The Most Hon. Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, ON, MP
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica
Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller is a Jamaican politician and leader of the People's National Party. She is the seventh Prime Minister of Jamaica, currently serving since 5 January 2012, and previously from March 2006 to September 2007. She was Leader of the Opposition between her two terms.
While serving as Prime Minister, Simpson-Miller retained the positions of Minister of Defence, Development, Information and Sports. She had served as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport, Minister of Tourism and Sports and Minister of Local Government throughout the years. Following her second election win in December 2011, when her party defeated the Jamaica Labour Party, she became the second individual to have served non-consecutive terms, the first having been Michael Manley.
Early life and education
Portia Simpson Miller was born on 12 December 194 in Jamaica. She pursued her education up to the secondary level in Jamaica, before reading for her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration at the Union Institute and University in the United States of America, which later awarded her an Honorary Doctorate. She completed the Executive Programme for Leaders in Development at the prestigious John Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller was Jamaica’s seventh Prime Minister and the first Jamaican woman to serve in that capacity. She assumed office on March 30, 2006. Simpson Miller’s appointment as Head of Government came after seventeen years as a senior Cabinet Minister. She was Minister of Labour, Welfare and Sport; Minister of Tourism and Sport; and Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport.
During her tenure as a Minister of Government and before becoming Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller presided over the most significant expansion of the Jamaican Overseas Work Programme and the unprecedented increase in the National Insurance Fund. Simpson Miller transformed the National Insurance Scheme into a major component of the Government’s social welfare system.
Simpson Miller’s love of sports and Jamaica’s athletes is well-known. As Sports Minister 1989 to 2007, she used her tremendous influence to motivate the Jamaican sporting community and promoted sports as a social unifying force. Simpson Miller was instrumental in creating partnerships between government agencies and the private sector, to support sports development in Jamaica. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), which was designed to provide financial assistance to national sporting associations, as well as emergency financial assistance to national and international-level athletes.
As Minister of Tourism, Portia Simpson Miller was the leading architect of Jamaica’s Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development. The plan sets the strategic policy framework for the expansion of the country’s tourism sector. Her work in deepening community participation and involving communities in policy decision, led to fundamental reforms in local government and the subsequent establishment of the Portmore Municipality, with the election of the first and only directly elected Mayor in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean.
As Parliamentary representative for the urban constituency of South Western St. Andrew, Portia Simpson Miller has been a vigorous campaigner on behalf of the poor. She is a consistent advocate for urban renewal and community development.
Portia Simpson Miller’s career in representational politics began in Local Government in 1974 as a Councillor of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). Simpson Miller made the transition to the House of Representatives when she was elected Member of Parliament for South Western St. Andrew in 1976. She was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister in 1977.
Portia Simpson Miller has the distinction of serving as the first female Vice-President of the People’s National Party, a position she held between 1978 and 2006. She was President of the People’s National Party Women’s Movement from 1983 to 2006. In February 2006, Portia Simpson Miller became the first woman to be elected as head of the People’s National Party. She took the Oath of Office as Prime Minister on March 30, 2006.
The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller has had a distinguished record of service at the regional and international level. She was Vice President of the Organization of American States’ High-Level Inter-American Network on Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation (RIAD). She was also the Chairperson of the Caribbean Forum of Ministers responsible for Decentralization, Local Government, Community Development and Citizen Participation and is a Board Member of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and CIFAL Atlanta. As Jamaican Prime Minister, she served as Chairman of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on External Negotiations.
Simpson-Miller's PNP lost to Andrew Holness by a two-seat majority on 25 February 2016. A recount then granted her party an additional seat, resulting in a one-seat loss with the PNP holding 31 seats to the Jamaican Labour Party's 32. As a result, Simpson-Miller will be serving as Opposition Leader for a second time.
Following calls from within her own party for her to step down as party leader, Simpson-Miller announced she would not seek re-election on December 4, 2016. She was succeeded by Dr. Peter Phillips, the Shadow Minister of Finance and former rival, on 26 March 2017. She stepped down as an MP in June 2017.
Simpson-Miller is married to Errald Miller, formerly CEO of Cable & Wireless Jamaica Ltd. On 29 May 2006 she was vested with the Jamaican Order of the Nation, giving her (and her husband) the title "The Most Honourable".