Catherine Ashton is a Life Peer in the House of Lords. Before joining the Lords she worked as a Director for Business in the Community, committed to Inner City Regeneration and supporting minority communities to get better employment opportunities. She was also the Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families. She has served as a minister in the Department for Education and Skills, and subsequently in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice. In 2005 she was voted House Magazine Minister of the Year and Channel 4 Peer of the Year. She became the first Stonewall Politician of the Year for her work on Equality .She was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen’s Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet in June 2007.
In 2008, she was appointed as the First Woman to be a British European Commissioner and became the first woman Commissioner for Trade. She concluded the S Korea trade deal, opened the Canada negotiations and resolved some long-standing disputes with the USA. In 2009, she became the European Union’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and won praise for her work as a negotiator in difficult international situations, particularly for her role in bringing Serbia and Kosovo to agreement in 2013 and in the nuclear talks with Iran, which she led for over 4 years.
She has received numerous Awards for her diplomatic work including the highest diplomat honors from the King of Jordan, from Slovakia and from Germany. She was nominated by both sides of the USA Congress together with the PMs of Serbia and Kosovo for the Nobel Peace Prize.. On leaving office she was awarded the Grand Cross of St Michael and St George [GCMG] by HM The Queen. In 2017 she received the Presidential Medal from Kosovo. She is Chair of the Global Europe Programme for The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC and is a member of the Global Leadership Foundation. She has been appointed the first woman Chancellor Warwick University in the UK and a Trustee of the Royal United Services Institute.