Dame Jennifer Smith was the Premier of Bermuda from 1998 until 2003, and was the first premier who was not a member of the United Bermuda Party.
Affectionately referred to as "Dame Jennifer", she has marked her place in Bermuda's history as the first woman to lead a political party to an election victory, the first Progressive Labour Party Shadow Minister of Education, the first and so far only leader of the PLP to lead the party to win two consecutive general elections, the first female Speaker of the House of Assembly and the second woman to serve as Premier.
Smith was born in 1947 in Bermuda and later enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, from which she earned an Associate degree in 1970. Upon returning to Bermuda, she began work as a political reporter and editor for the Bermuda Recorder newspaper.
Dame Jennifer Smith first got involved in frontline politics in 1972, running as a Progressive Labour Party candidate, the youngest person to run for elected office in Bermuda's history. Smith was appointed to the Senate of Bermuda in 1980, becoming Bermuda's youngest Senator and serving in that capacity until 1989. Dame Jennifer was elected to the House of Assembly of Bermuda in 1989 as a member of the Progressive Labour Party. She was elected deputy party leader in 1994, and succeeded to the leadership two years later upon the death of L. Frederick Wade.
From 1996 until 1998, Dame Jennifer served as the Leader of the Progressive Labour Party and as Bermuda's Opposition Leader. After two years as Opposition Leader, Smith led her party to victory in parliamentary elections in November 1998, in which the United Bermuda Party, which had dominated elections since autonomy was gained in 1968, suffered an unprecedented defeat. The Progressive Labour Party again won parliamentary elections in July 2003, but less than a week later, Smith was forced to resign as premier following a coup within her own party. She was replaced by W. Alex Scott, but then was elected as Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Smith was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005.
Image via the Royal Gazette