Dame Sandra Prunella Mason is the first president of Barbados. She is a mother of one and patron of the Soroptomist International of Barbados.
From the independence of Barbados from Britain on November 30, 1966 to November 30, 2021, Barbados’s head of state is the Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. Domestically, she was represented by Barbados’s governor-general.
Born in East Point, Saint Philip, Barbados, Mason attended the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill in Cave Hill, Barbados. Here are 13 more things about her:
- In 1958, she left St. Catherine’s Primary School and attended Queen’s College, where she successfully obtained seven GCE O Level qualifications and A Level qualifications in French and English.
- In 1968, she started teaching at the Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. In 1969, she worked for Barclays Bank as a clerk.
- In 1973, she earned her law degree from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, making her one of the university’s first graduates. In 1975, she became the first Barbadian female attorney-at-law to have graduated from the Hugh Wooding Law School, Trinidad where she earned her certificate of legal education.
- On November 10, 1975, she became the first female member of the Barbados Bar Association. From 1975 to 1976, she worked for Barclay’s Bank DCO in Barbados as a trust administrator.
- In 1978, she started working as the Magistrate of the Juvenile and Family Court while tutoring in family law at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill.
- In 1988, she completed a judicial administration course from the Royal Institute of Public Administration (RIPA) in London, England, United Kingdom.
- From 1991 to 1999, she served on the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child. She was the vice chair from 1993 to 1995 and chair from 1997 to 1999. In 1992, she left the family court and became the first female magistrate from Barbados to serve as an ambassador to Venezuela. From 1993 to 1994, she served as Barbados’s ambassador to Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Brazil. She was appointed as chief magistrate for Barbados in 1994 and became the registrar of the supreme Court in 1997.
- In 2000, she completed studies on alternative dispute resolution at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In 2001, she completed a fellowship with the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and an advanced dispute resolution at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill.
- In 2005, she was appointed as Queen’s counsel to the Inner Bar of Barbados. In 2008, she was sworn in as an appeals judge, making her becoming the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.
- In 2012, she became the acting governor-general of Barbados for three days. On January 1, 2014, she first Barbadian to be appointed to membership in the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal, which operates among members of the Commonwealth of Nations to resolve issues concerning contract disputes. In 2017, she became the tribunal’s first female president and she was appointed a Dame Grand Cross in the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George and as the eighth governor-general of Barbados.
- Her term as Barbados’s eighth governor-general started on January 8, 2018.
- In September 2020, she announced government policy in the throne speech written by the government of Barbados’s eighth prime minister Mia Mottley, which stated that Barbados would become a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
- On October 12, 2021, Mottley and Barbados’s opposition leader jointly nominated her as a candidate to become the first president of Barbados. On October 20, 2021, she was elected as the first president of Barbados. She was 72 years old when her term started on November 30, 2021.