Liberians, indeed Africans throughout the world, rejoiced this week when they heard the announcement from the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund that Mrs. Rhoda Weeks-Brown, a Liberian honors graduate of Harvard Law School, had been appointed General Counsel and Head of the IMF’s Legal Department.
Announcing this great accomplishment by one of Africa’s leading lawyers, Madame Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, said Mrs. Weeks-Brown, in her 21-year service at the IMF, had “contributed to virtually all aspects of the Institution’s work. In addition to a sharp legal mind and deep legal experience, she brings a comprehensive perspective on the Fund’s role and the challenges facing our members in today’s rapidly changing economic and financial environment.
“During her career in the Fund’s Legal Department,” said Madame Lagarde, “Mrs. Weeks-Brown worked on a wide range of country and policy issues. She was particularly involved in leading the work related to the revamp of the Fund’s General Resources Account (GRA) lending toolkit and the transformation of the architecture of facilities for low-income countries. She also contributed to the design of a new income model for the Fund adopted in 2008, the 2008 and 2010 quota and governance reforms and the articulation of the Fund’s institutional view on capital flows.
As Deputy General Counsel, a position she earlier held,” said Madame Lagarde, “Mrs. Weeks-Brown was a key member of the Legal Department’s management team, helping to guide all aspects of the Department’s work. Most recently, she served as Deputy Director of the Fund’s Communication Department, where she has played a key role in developing the Fund’s communication strategy and its positioning on key issues.
She also had oversight of communications related to Europe, Africa and previously Asia.” Our yesterday’s front page story announcing Mrs. Rhoda Weeks-Brown’s appointment to one of the IMF’s most senior positions was not the first time this newspaper, the Daily Observer, has featured this brilliant and outstanding Liberian daughter. In 1983 we carried a back page story, written by one of our cub reporters, Rowena Gono (now Mrs. Rowena Wotorson), then a junior at Monrovia’s St. Theresa’s Convent.
Rowena was assigned to cover the commencement exercises of Ricks Institute, one of the nation’s leading high schools. In her article, Rowena reported that Rhoda Weeks, daughter of Dr. Rocheforte L. Weeks, former President of the University of Liberia and former Liberian Foreign Minister, had graduated valedictorian of her class, and walked away with most of the prizes on graduation day.
The story also said Rhoda had topped that year’s West African Examinations (WAEC) at Ricks. The following morning the Daily Observer Publisher, Kenneth Y. Best, met Rhoda’s father on Ashmun Street and asked, “Dr. Weeks, did you see this morning’s newspaper?” He quickly replied, “Yes, Kenneth; we loved the back page!”
Mrs. Rhoda Weeks-Brown’s great accomplishment this week serves a cogent (sound, convincing) lesson for all students, especially the students of Liberia and Africa.
One former Ricks schoolmate, after reading yesterday’s Observer story of Rhoda’s appointment, remarked to a group at the Finance Ministry, “I was there at Ricks and remember that Rhoda was an exceptionally brilliant student in all subjects—Math, Science, English, History—you name it!”
After her graduation from Ricks, Rhoda attended Cuttington College and Divinity School and later traveled to the United States, where she took the Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Howard University.
There her father had taken his first Law degree. Rhoda later entered Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts where, three years later, she graduated with honors, taking the degree Juris Doctor. One of her contemporaries at Harvard was Barrack Obama, the first black student to become Editor of the Harvard Law Review. It was that position that caused many to predict that this young man was destined for greatness.
Why do we say that Rhoda’s exceptional achievement serves a good lesson for all Liberian and African students? We say that because not all students take seriously the little gifts that God has given them, and make the very best use of these gifts. We all know of students we went to school with who were exceptionally gifted, but some of them did not take seriously their talents.
Albert Porte once told of a classmate at Old Cuttington in Cape Palmas in the early 1920s who was exceptionally brilliant—in all subjects. But he took to drinking and died young. Rhoda Weeks never took for granted her intellectual gifts. She remained highly FOCUSED throughout her academic career and ended up at the pinnacle (top) of legal education, Harvard Law School. When, some 21 years ago, she joined the IMF’s Legal Department, she remained focused, hardworking and resourceful.
It paid off because both her colleagues and her superiors were watching. Here she is today, at top of the IMF’s Legal Department. We thank God for what He has enabled Rhoda to accomplish and thank and congratulate her, too, for making great use of God’s gifts. We pray that the Almighty will grant her the wisdom, strength and humility to act well her part in this new undertaking, and others that may come her way in the years ahead.