|Who is it?||Actress, Soundtrack|
|Birth Day||March 20, 1956|
|Age||64 YEARS OLD|
|President||José Manuel Barroso|
|Preceded by||The Baroness Amos|
|Succeeded by||The Baroness Royall of Blaisdon|
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Spouse(s)||Peter Kellner (m. 1988)|
|Education||Bedford College, London (B.S., 1977)|
But now the 57-year-old baroness is suddenly at the center of world diplomacy. And whenever she is mentioned, she earns praise for her hard-nosed negotiating skills, her stamina and her diplomatic talents. It is said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has much faith in her. "She is discrete and perceptive, but also tenacious. That makes her an ideal negotiator", says Alexander Graf Lamsdorff, the head of Germany's business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament and a member of its Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Catherine Ashton was born at Upholland, Lancashire, on 20 March 1956. She comes from a working-class family, with a background in coal mining.
Between 1977 and 1983, Ashton worked for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) as an administrator and in 1982 was elected as its national treasurer and subsequently as one of its vice-chairs. From 1979 to 1981 she was Business manager of the Coverdale Organisation, a management consultancy.
As of 1983 she worked for the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work. From 1983-89 she was Director of Business in the Community, working with Business to tackle inequality, and she established the Employers' Forum on Disability, Opportunity Now, and the Windsor Fellowship. For most of the 1990s, she was a freelance policy adviser. She chaired the Health Authority in Hertfordshire from 1998 to 2001 and she became a vice-president of the National Council for One-Parent Families.
Ashton lives in St Albans with her husband, Peter Kellner, the President of an online polling organisation, YouGov. Ashton and Kellner have been married since 1988. Ashton has two children and three stepchildren.
She was created a Labour Life Peer as Baroness Ashton of Upholland in 1999, under Prime Minister Tony Blair. In June 2001 she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills. In 2002 she became Minister responsible for Sure Start in the same department, and in September 2004 she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, with responsibilities including the National Archives and the Public Guardianship Office. Ashton was sworn of the Privy Council in 2006, and she became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the new Ministry of Justice in May 2007.
She was awarded an honorary degree from the University of East London in 2005.
After a confirmation hearing by the Trade Committee of the European Parliament, Ashton was approved by the Parliament on 22 October 2008 by 538 to 40 votes, with 63 abstentions. She took office on 1 December 2009 for a five-year-term.
Ashton was questioned by Members of the European Parliament in 2009 about her role as national treasurer in the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s, amid claims by its opponents that it may have had financial links to the Soviet Union. Ashton responded that she had not taken any “direct money from communist countries”. Much of the organisation’s funds had been “collected in buckets" at marches and demonstrations, she said, adding that she was the first to order an audit of CND’s finances. Her spokesman said: "She never visited the Soviet Union, she had no contacts with the Soviet Union and she never accepted money from Soviet sources ... She has never been a member of the Communist Party".
Ashton was said in February 2010 to be angry over what she perceived as the "latent sexism" among some of her European peers that underpinned some of the criticisms aimed at her. She told the press that her work was sometimes hampered by the limited resources provided to her. She is not, for Example, provided with her own aeroplane: something taken for granted by U.S. Secretaries of State.
The Polish Minister for European and Economic Affairs, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, stated in 2011 that criticism of Ashton was "a lot of hot air" and that "she has an impossible job to do and she is doing it well. At the end of her time in office, people will be more positive about what she has done. She will leave a real legacy."
In counterpoint to earlier criticism of Ashton for not traveling enough, in September 2012 the Daily Telegraph criticised her for not being present in Brussels for enough European Commission meetings, reporting that Ashton had missed 21 out of 32 regular weekly meetings held so far that year. To the paper's complaint that Ashton's absences were "leaving Britain without a voice" at such meetings, European diplomatic officials said that, under EU treaties, commissioners serve as representatives not of individual member countries but of the European interest. Ashton's staff also pointed to her personal involvement in nuclear negotiations with Iran as among the international responsibilities that had kept her away from Commission meetings.
In February 2013, Ashton was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.
Reflecting on her record, in July 2014, Adam Boulton in the UK's Sunday Times concluded:
She was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 2015 New Year Honours List for services to the European Common Foreign and Security Policy.
In January 2017, Ashton became Chancellor of the University of Warwick, succeeding Sir Richard Lambert and becoming Warwick's first female chancellor.
Catherine Ashton is a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization that works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former Leaders to today’s national Leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with heads of government on governance-related issues of concern to them.