Valerie Ann Amos was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) and moved to England as a child. A member of the Labour Party, she was named a Life Peer by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 and became the first black Leader of the House of Lords. In 2003, she became the Secretary of State for International Development, making her the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet. Baroness Amos served briefly as the British High Commissioner to Australia before taking a post as Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs with the United Nations. In 2015, her appointment to Director of SOAS, University of London made her the first black woman to head a university in the United Kingdom.