The forerunner

As Canada’s only female prime minister, Kim Campbell has placed her commitment to justice and equality for women at the centre of her life.

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell. Illustration by Jordan Carson.

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell served as Canada’s 19th prime minister in 1993. She is a former Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans’ Affairs. She is the first woman to hold the justice and defence portfolios, the first woman to be defence minister of a NATO country and Canada’s first and only female prime minister.

While in office, Campbell participated in major international meetings including the Commonwealth, NATO, the G-7 Summit and the United Nations General Assembly. After her tenure as prime minister, Campbell was named a fellow at the Institute of Politics and the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Study of Press and Politics at Harvard University’s J.F. Kennedy School of Government. She also served as the Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2000.

In 2001, Campbell returned to Harvard as one of the inaugural fellows of the Center for Public Leadership at the J. F. Kennedy School of Government. Asked to join the faculty, she taught there for three years, developing courses focused on democratic transition and consolidation as well as gender and power. She also worked with many prominent leadership scholars and experts and also sat on the admissions committee for the Kennedy School.

Campbell is a founding member of the Club of Madrid, an organization of former heads of government and state who work to promote democratic values. She has served as its secretary general, acting president, vice-president and on its board of directors.

Campbell is a member and chair emerita of the Council of Women World Leaders. The council’s membership consists of women who hold or have held the office of president or prime minister. Campbell is a member of the International Women’s Forum, a global organization of women of significant and diverse achievement. She served as its president and was inducted into the IWF Hall of Fame in 2008.

Campbell continues to be involved in global issues. She is a Trustee of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Global Council of the Asia Society of New York. She is also a Senior Advisor to the Crisis Group and an honorary board member of the Climate Action Reserve. Campbell is a member of the board of directors for Athenex, a pharmaceutical company, and her corporate director experience includes the high tech, bio-tech and medical devices industries. She is also a founding member of the board of the Women’s Leadership Fund, an investment fund based in Zurich.

In 2014, Campbell was named the founding principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta. The College is part of the Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative, a collaboration with The Banff Centre aimed at creating one of the world’s preeminent leadership development programs.

In 2016 Campbell served as Chairperson for the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments.

Campbell is a Companion of the Order of Canada, a Member of the Order of British Columbia, and the recipient of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 1995, to honour her public service, Campbell was granted a personal coat of arms by Queen Elizabeth II.

Campbell earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA ’69) as well as a Bachelor of Laws (LLB ’83) from the University of British Columbia. From 1970–1973 she did doctoral studies in Soviet Government as a Canada Council Scholar at the London School of Economics, and in 1972 was a Canada Council Traveling Fellow in the Soviet Union. She is an honorary fellow of the London School of Economics and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. She also has received honorary degrees from the Law Society of Upper Canada, Brock University, Northeastern University, the University of British Columbia, Mount Holyoke College, Chatham College, Arizona State University, Trent University, and Simon Fraser University. In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from the U of A.


For almost as long as there’s been a Canada, there’s been a University of Alberta. Over the next year, in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, we’re proudly celebrating the people, achievements and ideas that contributed to the making of a confederation.