As a little girl, she attended the Marlie Hill Primary School that served the district of Woodhall in the parish of St. Catherine. After high school and commercial college, she became a secretary, working in the field of social service. Perhaps that is where Portia found her passion, her life for service to the less fortunate, her uncanny ability to see the world through the eyes of those she sought to serve. This is called empathy.
What better arena than politics where she could broaden her horizon and do so much more for so many more? So, in 1976 Portia Simpson became the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of South West St. Andrew. And this was her launching pad that culminated in her singular honour of becoming the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica and the third in the English-speaking Caribbean, after Prime Ministers Janet Jagan of Guyana and Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica. She served for two terms; 2006-2007 and 2012-2016.
But there were several achievements between MP and Prime Minister. She served as Minister in several portfolios – Labour, Social Security and Sports; Tourism; Government; Defence; Development and Information. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration; Certificates in Public Relations and Advanced Management and was awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Union Institute of the USA – her alma mater – and the Northern Caribbean University of Jamaica.
Another of her passions, was her legendary love of sports, to the extent that when she became Prime Minister she kept the portfolio. She was a presence at all external events in which Jamaica participated and even opened the national stadium in Kingston for children of all ages to showcase their athletic prowess at the national level. In 1995, she established the Sports Development Foundation, to provide resources to support the development and implementation of sports in Jamaica.
In 1998 she married a business executive Errald Miller and in 2006 she was vested with the Jamaican Order of the Nation, Jamaica’s second highest national honour. But to us she will always be our beloved ‘Sista P’ a woman of love, compassion, dedication and excellence. Truly a Unique Woman of Substance.
Unique: One of a kind, unlike anyone else.