200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effects: Judith Mayhew Jonas, Solicitor, local politician and former chair of Royal Opera House

Judith Mayhew Jonas was the first woman to hold a number of public roles in the United Kingdom such as a two-year term as Provost of King’s College, Cambridge and chair of the Royal Opera House. Born and educated in New Zealand, she moved to the UK as a lecturer in law at the University of Southampton, then King’s College London. She was appointed chair of governors at Birkbeck in 1999. She was Provost of King’s College, Cambridge from 2003 to 2005, the first woman to hold this post. She was also the first woman to chair the Royal Opera House.

She was closely involved in the running of the City of London from 1986. In that year she was elected to the City of London Corporation and chaired the Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee from 1996–2003. From 2001 she was City and Business Advisor to Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2002 Birthday Honours “for services to the City of London”. In 2004 she was made New Zealander of the Year in Britain. She was Global Award Winner at the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards in 2015.


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