Shirley Williams

Emeritus Board Member

Rt. Hon. Professor Shirley Williams is co-founder of the Liberal Democrats and recently retired from the House of Lords after 50 years in politics to focus on a number of issues including Europe and climate change. In the House of Lords, she was leader of the party from 2001 to 2004. She is professor emeritus of elective politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and advises the Prime Minister on issues of nuclear proliferation. She is a member of the International Commission on Nuclear Non Proliferation and Disarmament.

Williams began her career as a journalist for The Daily Mirror and The Financial Times and in 1960 became secretary of the Fabian Society. She served as a member of the House of Commons, as well as a Labor cabinet minister of education and science. In 1981, she broke away from the Labor Party to co-found the Social Democratic Party, which in 1988 merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats, now the third party in British politics. She became Baroness Williams of Crosby in 1993 and was spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the Lords from 1998 to 2001.

Williams’ past endeavours include: directing the Harvard-based Project Liberty, which focused on Eastern Europe; member of the Advisory Council to the UN Secretary General on the Fourth World Women’s conference; member of the European Commission’s Comite de Sages on social and civil rights; and co-president of Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs), 2002 to 2006.

Williams is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation and the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is a trustee of the Century Foundation in New York and the IPPR in London.

She is the author of several books including Politics is for People (1981), A Job to Live (1985), God and Caesar (2003) and Climbing the Bookshelves (2009).