Dame Jennifer Smith

dame_jennifer_smith_3Dame Jennifer Meredith Smith earned her place in Bermuda’s history as the first Progressive Labour Party [PLP] Premier, the first female Senator and the first female Deputy Speaker.

In addition, in 1972, Dame Jennifer became the youngest woman to run in a general election [1972] and in 1980, she became the youngest member of the Senate. She led the PLP to two general election victories on November 9, 1998 and July 24, 2003.

She was born in 1947 in Bermuda, and raised as a member of the African Methodist Episcopal church. She attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and earned an Associate’s degree in 1970. Upon returning to Bermuda, she began work as a political reporter and editor for the Bermuda Recorder newspaper

She elected to the House of Assembly of Bermuda representing St Georges in 1989, and was elected deputy party leader in 1994, and succeeded to the leadership two years later upon the death of L. Frederick Wade.

In 1998, when the PLP was elected she became Premier of Bermuda. This was notable on an international level, as it was one of the few instances that a female leader was succeeded by another female, as Dame Jennifer followed after Dame Pamela Gordon of the UBP.

In November 2010, Dame Jennifer Smith was sworn in at Government House, taking on the position of Minister of Education. Dame Jennifer had previously held the position of Deputy Speaker of the House, which she resigned in order to accept a Cabinet position. This is the second time she has served in this role, as Dame Jennifer was the first PLP Education Minister. This is her first Cabinet position since resigning as Premier in 2003.

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Dame Jennifer has served as a member of the Board of Trustees or been involved in many organizations including the Bermuda National Gallery, Bermuda Dance Foundation, De Boys Day Out Club, Boys and Girls Club of Bermuda, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Bermuda Society of Arts, Masterworks Foundation of Bermuda and the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, Bermuda Heritage Association, Bermuda TB Cancer and Health Association, St. George’s Jaycees, Friends of the Bermuda College Library, Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Bermuda Business & Professional Women’s Club, Berkeley Educational Society, Masterworks Foundation, Bermuda Zoological Society; Amnesty International, Bermuda Debate Society, Keep Bermuda Beautiful and Richard Allen AME Church.

Some of the awards she has received include:

  • Made a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in the June 2005 Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition for her service to Bermuda and its people.
  • Received Honourary Degrees from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA (June 2003) (DHumL), Morris Brown College, Atlanta Georgia, USA (May 2000), and Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (October 2000)
  • Received the “Woman of Great Esteem” award from Q-Kingdom Ministries New York, USA (March 2001)
  • Received an award from the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Washington, D. C. USA (September 2001).

Dame Jennifer speaking at a 2007 election rally:

Below Dame Jennifer is sworn into Cabinet in November 2010:

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