She moved to Washington D.C., and served as Vice President of both the African Regional Office of Citibank, in Nairobi, and of (HSCB) Equator Bank, in Washington. From 1992 to 1997 she worked as assistant administrator, then Director, of the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa. Back in Liberia civil unrest was stirred and Samuel Doe was killed by a splinter group from Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia. Initially supporting Charles Taylor's bloody rebellion against President Samuel Doe in 1990, she later went on to oppose him. An interim government was put in power, lead by a succession of four un-elected officials. By 1996 the presence of West African peacekeepers created a lull in the civil war, and elections were held, spurring Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to return once more to contest the elections. She came second in a controversial election, losing to Charles Taylor who got 10% of the vote. Many observers said the election was fair, though Johnson-Sirleaf was soon charged with treason.
By 1999 civil war had returned to the region and Taylor was accused of interfering with his neighbours, fomenting unrest and rebellion. On 11 August 2003, after much persuasion, Charles Taylor handed power over to his deputy Moses Blah. The new interim government and rebel groups signed an historic peace accord and set about installing a new head of state. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was proposed as a possible candidate, but in the end the diverse groups selected Charles Bryant, a political neutral. Johnson-Sirleaf served as head of the Governance Reform Commission. Johnson-Sirleaf played an active role in the transitional government as the country prepared for the 2005 elections, and eventually stood for president against her rival the ex-international footballer, George Weah as leader of the Unity Party. Johnson-Sirleaf won a majority in the election through Weah disputed the results. The announcement of the new leader was postponed until further investigations were carried out.
On 23 November 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was declared the winner of the Liberian election and confirmed as the country's next president. Her inauguration, attended by many foreign dignitaries, including US First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, took place on Monday 16 January, 2006.
"It would have been much easier for her to quit politics and sit at home like others have done but she has never given up".
In the first round of 2005 voting, she came second with 175,520 votes, putting her through to the runoff vote on November 8 against former soccer player George Weah. On November 11, the National Elections Commission of Liberia declared Johnson Sirleaf to be president-elect of Liberia. On November 23, they confirmed their decision saying that Johnson Sirleaf had won with a margin of almost 20% of the vote. Independent, international, regional, and domestic observers declared the vote to be free, fair, and transparent. Her supporters said she had two advantages over the man she faced in the run-off - former football star George Weah - she is better educated and is a woman. Her inauguration took place on January 16 2006; foreign attendees of the ceremony included Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and Michaëlle Jean.
On March 15 2006, President Johnson Sirleaf addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress, asking for American support to help her country “become a brilliant beacon, an example to Africa and the world of what love of liberty can achieve.”
Uncomfortably for Johnson Sirleaf, former President Taylor's followers remain in large numbers in Liberia's government. Taylor's estranged wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, is in the Senate. So is Prince Johnson, whose gruesome torture and murder of President Samuel Doe in 1990 was captured on a widely-distributed videotape.
On July 26 2007, President Johnson Sirleaf celebrated Liberia's 160th Independence Day under the theme "Liberia at 160: Reclaiming the future." She took an unprecedented and symbolic move by asking 25 year old Liberian activist Kimmie Weeks to serve as National Orator for the celebrations. Kimmie became Liberia's youngest National Orator in over a hundred years and delivered a powerful speech. He called for the government to prioritize education and health care. A few days later, President Sirleaf issued an Executive Order making education free and compulsory for all elementary school aged children.
Other previous positions:
Her granddaughter attended North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, GA