EJS Center Welcomes 3rd Cohort of Amujae Leaders -Moriah, Sona Join 10 Other Accomplished African Women

MONROVIA – The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, otherwise known as the EJS Center, has announced its third cohort of accomplished African women that comprise 12 women leaders from 10 countries across the African continent. They include current government ministers, members of parliament, senior government advisors, and activists engaged with issues ranging from economic development to gender equality and youth empowerment.

Among the 12 accomplished African women leaders who make up the 2023 Amujae cohort under the EJS flagship program of the Amujae Initiative are two of Liberia’s own: firebrand lawyer, feminist, and political activist Moriah Kou Dwehde Yeakula; and Sona Traore Sesay, an educational leader with a mission-driven mindset to create ethical and effective leadership in educational settings while building authentic partnerships with stakeholders.

Other members of the Amujae Initiative third cohort include Chilando Nakalima Chitangala, Mayor of Lusaka, Zambia, and Vice Chairperson of the Covenant of mayors in sub-Saharan Africa (cOmssa); Chipokota Mwanawasa, Policy Advisor to the President of Zambia and Deputy Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit; Dr. Grace Aynsu-Danquah, a gender advocate, humanitarian surgeon, educationist, and philanthropist who hails from Ghana; Emma Theofelus, a lawyer and member of Parliament, and Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology in the Republic of Namibia; Fatou Jagne Senghore, founder of the Center for Women’s Rights and Leadership in the Gambia, and a human rights advocate with over 20 years of experience; Gladys Wanga, Governor of Homa Bay County, in Kenya; Joanah Mamombe, a molecular biologist and member of Parliament for Harare West Constituency, Zambia; and Joyce Chitsulo, member of parliament, Mwanza West Constituency, Malawi.

Welcoming the new cohort, EJS Center founder and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said: ““I am incredibly proud to be welcoming the EJS Center’s third cohort of Amujae Leaders. These 12 women have already demonstrated staggering success over the course of their careers and have the ambition and commitment to enact real change as public leaders.

“They follow in the footsteps of our first and second cohorts who continued to go from strength to strength and will undoubtedly serve as sisters and supporters as our new leaders embark on their Amujae journey.”

According to the EJS Center, these talented women will build upon the foundations laid by the first two cohorts of Amujae Leaders and will be supported by a distinguished group of Amujae Coaches, including former heads of state and leaders of international institutions, who provide insight and guidance drawn from their invaluable experience in public leadership.

Buttressing EJS Center’s statement, interim EJS Center Executive Director, Oley Dibba-Wadda, added: “There is no program like the Amujae Initiative out there, and it fills me with hope that another 12 brilliant African women will be joining the sisterhood to continue their development as public leaders.

“As an Amujae Leader myself, I know all too well the enriching and joyous journey our third cohort is about to embark on. Their first and second cohort sisters stand ready and waiting to welcome and support them on their own unique leadership journeys.”
“We’re excited to work with these exceptional leaders to continue our mission to inspire and prepare African women to ascend to the highest levels of leadership, charting a path for others to follow. Stay tuned for more updates about the Amujae Leaders,” the EJS Center Team further noted.

As the flagship program of the EJS Center, the Amujae Initiative’s objective is to inspire and prepare women to unapologetically take up roles and excel in the highest echelons of public leadership, and to bring other women along.

‘Amujae’, pronounced ӓ mōō jāēē, means ‘we are going up’ in Kru, a Liberian language. Launched on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020, the vision for the Amujae Initiative is to shift the landscape for women in public leadership in Africa, moving from a culture of tokenism to one that truly values women leaders.

Selected from across the continent, Amujae Leaders represent women from diverse backgrounds with a similar track record of achievements in public life and a shared passion for uplifting African women and girls and the continent as a whole.

Moriah Kou Dwede Yeakula who made the list of the 12 Amuaje cohorts is a Lawyer, Political Activist, Feminist and Administrator. She is currently the Chief of Staff to Liberian presidential candidate Mr. Alexander B. Cummings (former Coca-Cola Executive Vice President) and Junior Legal Counsel for the CIH Group Ltd. She previously worked in public service in senior administrative roles at both the municipal and national government levels.

Moriah began her career in administration over a decade ago at Liberia’s National Port Authority, in the Office of the Managing Director, providing support to the Board of Directors. She later worked with the City Government of Monrovia serving as Executive Assistant to the Mayor. In 2014 she was appointed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Assistant Minister for Administration (Ministry of Labor. She transitioned to the private sector in 2018 and began law practice with the Heritage Partner & Associates (HPA) Law Firm, a leading law firm in Liberia. The focus of her law practice is family and public interest law and providing pro-bono legal services to indigent women and girls. She has also provided legal consultancy to several national and international women-led NGOs in Liberia with focus on creating awareness on women’s rights and access to justice.

As a woman in politics, member of the opposition and feminist, Moriah advocates for good governance, anti-corruption, women political participation & rights, ending gender inequality and all forms of violence against women and girls in Liberia. She became the Communications Director and a member of the National Executive Committee of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), and of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). She was instrumental in getting the CPP to include a mandatory 30% quota for women representation in its framework document and to exceed the quota in Liberia’s 2020 Senatorial election by 33%. She’s helped plan and attend protests against rape and worked with other female lawyers on a legal analysis document against the proposed amendment of Liberia’s New Rape Law, which sought to reduce punishment.

In 2016, she co-founded and served as Executive Director of the Liberia Cancer Resource Initiative (LCRI), a non-profit organization providing awareness and assistance for screenings and treatment to women battling breast and cervical cancer. LCRI hosts Liberia’s Annual Breast Cancer Walk every October and is currently the lead on aUS$100,000 grant for health justice and the fight against cancer in Liberia. As a feminist and champion for women, Moriah recently launched an Annual Women in Leadership event dubbed “The Gathering”, to create a safe space for women in leadership to share experiences, celebrate each other and inspire the younger generation of women.

Moriah is a member of the Liberia Feminist Forum (LFF) and a founding member of the Liberian Women Humanitarian Network (LWHN), and has served on several boards, including member of the Board of Trustees of the Nimba County Community College (NCCC), and is a current member of the Board of the Girls for Change organization. She holds a Masters of Law degree in Civil Litigation and Advocacy from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, USA, a Bachelor of Law degree from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, and two Bachelor of Art (B.A) degrees in Economics and Sociology respectively, from Wayne State University in Michigan, USA. She is a Counsellor-at-Law of the Liberian Supreme Court Bar, a member of the Liberian National Bar Association and the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL). She is a lifetime member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and a proud mother of a 10-year-old boy.

The second Liberian among the 12 Amujae cohorts is an educational leader with a mission-driven mindset to create ethical and effective leadership in educational settings while building authentic partnerships with stakeholders. 

Ms. Traore Sesay is currently the Executive Director of the LEAD Monrovia Football Academy, a non-profit organization that uses football as a hook to provide quality education, break down gender barriers, and prepare students to lead positive change in Liberia. She has over five years of leadership experience in organizations where she made her mark by inspiring many girls and women to occupy space and become better versions of themselves.

Prior to this role, she served as a teacher and life skills program officer at LEAD Monrovia Football Academy and as a leader in education who demonstrated different strategies which improved the learning performances of young people.

Ms. Traore Sesay holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy from Boston College and a BSc in Early Childhood Education from Gaziantep University. This is in addition to several certificates she has in public speaking, leadership, mentorship, and improving educational outcomes.

She is an advocate for gender equity, women’s participation in leadership, equity and inclusivity in education, and redefining the role of educators in Liberia.

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