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Liberia’s US envoy-designate: An exceptionally qualified and experienced diplomat

Liberia’s ambassador-designate Ms. Gurly Teta Gibson

NEW YORK – With what some in the United States are heralding as an excellent choice, President George M. Weah of Liberia expands women leadership in his administration by appointing Ms. Gurly Teta Gibson as Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Ms. Gibson is an experienced diplomat and international trade and investment Consul with over ten years of practical experience. She brings a wealth of knowledge in diplomacy, international trade negotiations, global economics, and women’s rights advocacy. Furthermore, Ms. Gibson pledges to work with Liberians in the diaspora and the United States government to support President Weah’s pro-poor policies.

While women are still outnumbered by men in many prestigious positions in Africa, the news of Ms. Gibson’s appointment as Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States further fulfills President Weah’s campaign promise of gender equality in leadership roles within his administration.

Although Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa still lead Africa in areas of women in leadership and politics, with participation of 63.8%, 42.7%, and 41.9% respectively, it appears the President of Liberia, H.E. George M. Weah intends on moving Liberia from its poor ranking of just 11% over the past decade (ranked 113 out of 138 countries according to the Brookings Institute) to a more respectable level with his gender equality appointments.

Ms. Gibson is a knowledgeable and qualified policy expert with experience in negotiating highly effective international and domestic trade agreements between the Government of Liberia and many foreign corporations. She is also well known in international circles as a strong partner in advancing foreign direct investment to Liberia.

Many in U.S. business and investment circles recognize her selection as one of the exceptional diplomatic appointments Liberia has had to the United States, Canada, and Mexico in the last decades.

The newly appointed Liberian ambassador-designate possesses the recommended characteristics often needed in a result-driven diplomat. As Liberia’s First Secretary and Consul for International Trade and Investment in the U.S. Canada and Mexico, Ms. Gibson demonstrated integrity, honesty as well as an appropriate measure of humility. She posses the ability to inspire Liberians living in North America while simultaneously connecting Liberia’s interest to that of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Liberian diplomats should focus on development and investment diplomacy to help the president and the Liberian government attract investments and investors as well as international development aid to the country. Ambassador-designate Gibson fits the bill.

From 2006 to 2015, she was considered as one of the first top Liberian diplomats in North America with an in-depth understanding of the public policy process and the “culture and language” of the host country. Throughout her work and activities in the U.S., she has shown to possess the knowledge and experience an ambassador needs to succeed in bringing foreign direct investment to Liberia – a prerequisite for job creation.

As First Secretary and Liberia’s Consul for International Trade and Investment to North America from 2006 to 2015, she successfully negotiated and set up trade deals for Liberia amounting to millions of dollars between companies from the US, Latin America, Canada, the Middle East, India, Holland, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. She also participated in several global conferences on international trade as well as on governmental affairs with the aim of creating opportunities for development in Liberia.

Ms. Gibson’s experience and commendable contribution to Liberia’s development include work with the Mayor of Philadelphia’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrants Affairs and the City of Philadelphia Revitalization Education Program (PREP). The PREP program made it possible for Liberians to travel to the U.S. to obtain technical skills which they took back to Liberia to support development efforts.

Among other activities implemented included a business forum for Liberia; a microcredit program to promote and improve business activities in Liberia; collaborating with the Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on Africans and Caribbean Immigrants Affairs as well as other American principalities to promote Liberia as a destination for tourism, commerce, trade, culture, and private sector investments.

Ambassador-designate Gibson is also a trained, experienced and passionate advocate, mediator, protagonist, and campaigner for Liberian communities in the United States, Canada and other parts of North America.  She is considered as a warm, caring, and generous person who used her past diplomatic role to advocate for, defend and counsel Liberians.  These efforts facilitated cooperation and harmony in Liberian communities in the USA, Canada and between various Liberian communities and authorities in North America.

Ms. Gibson seated advocating for the “Free Liberians” at the City Hall in Philadelphia, USA on behalf Liberians to travel freely during the Ebola Crisis.

During the Ebola crisis in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, ambassador designate Gibson was the leading Liberian diplomatic voice to the North American audience and the government of the US, Canada, and Mexico in relations to practical steps needed to address the crisis as well as in defending Liberians and others against the prejudice derived from the Ebola incidence.

Diplomacy is defined by the U.S. Department of State as “the art and practice of conducting negotiations and maintaining relations between nations; skill in handling affairs without arousing animosity.”

If all agree to this standard, it would be conclusive to suggest that Ms. Gurly Teta Gibson is the right person to take up the role at this critical period as Liberia’s ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  She is patient, decisive, and understanding, and has unquestionable credibility and Liberia national interest at heart.  She would bring to her new role comprehensiveness, perceptiveness, circumspection, perseverance, confidence, and clarity.  She also has a first-hand understanding of the countries and region she is being assigned, having served as Liberia’s Consul for international trade and investment in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for a decade.

As the Liberian ambassador-designate, and based on her prior experience, and individual character, she is poised to be proactive, goal-oriented and responsive to an array of foreign policy challenges facing Liberia in relations to its ties to North America while shaping conditions to accomplish Liberia’s vital national interests.  She is expected to reach out to and be known by various ‘think tanks’ in Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and Silicon Valley promoting Liberia’s business, trade, investment and geopolitical interest with emphasis on job and wealth creation, innovation and information technology.

Ambassador-designate Gibson is bound to be successful as head of the Liberian diplomatic mission because of her formidable outreach skills and abilities which she hopes to use with the US, Canada and Mexican authorities including Congress, the Canada parliament, and the Mexican parliament is a plus.

Ambassador-designate Gibson possesses an abiding interest in and passion for the art and craft of diplomacy, international relations, trade, and investment. She has also demonstrated an analytical temperament over the years; is verbally fluent and concise; pays meticulous attention to details; is a tough and effective negotiator that is skilled in building long-term political, diplomatic and trade relationships.  As a First Secretary and Consul for international trade and investment for ten years, she cultivated policy resilience, acquired the relevant diplomatic work experience and had been loyal and truthful to her bosses no matter the circumstances. While her loyalty, honesty, and truthfulness had her at odds with some in the past Liberian administration, they are the right and distinctive attributes any good and practical diplomat needs to possess since they are the hallmark of diplomacy.

Ambassador-designate Gurly Teta Gibson holds a graduate degree in human services and has vast working experience in Diplomacy, International Trade Negotiations, Global Economics, Women Rights and Advocacy, and Therapeutic Support Services (STS).  She is unquestionably a high performing executive with a proven track record of accomplishments in negotiating several mutually beneficial international and domestic trade agreements between the Government of the Republic of Liberia and many foreign corporations.  She is also bilingual, fluent in English and French.

One inside source in Washington, DC said ambassador-designate Gibson is expected to have a good relationship with the Trump administration considering that she knows the ins and outs of her assigned diplomatic environment and is already familiar with key advisers and policymakers in the administration.  Ms. Gibson’s first task and engagement with the Trump White House is to smoothen ties and the misunderstanding of Liberia’s controversial vote against the U.S. and Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in December last year. She is also expected to have a sustained engagement of the US Senate and the Congressional Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Sub-Committees on Africa.  Unlike previous Liberian envoys to Washington, DC. in last decade, the newly appointed Liberian envoy is not new to North America.

Among some of the priorities she plans to initiate as ambassador include establishing a database for Liberians in the US, Canada, and Mexico, ensuring that consular and related services offered by the Liberian mission are easily accessed online, and engaging with Silicon Valley in California so that Liberians and Liberia benefit from the array of development in information technology.  Developing a database of Liberians in the US, Canada and Mexico will assist the Liberian Mission to connect well and favorably with Liberians living in these countries as well as solve problems and misunderstanding arising from various and diverse viewpoints.  The newly appointed Liberian envoy also promises to establish an ‘open door’ policy for Liberians and non-Liberians at the mission.

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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.
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