Mother, Wife, Politician, Senior Elected, Member of Parliament, Advocate, Entrepreneur, Columnist, Communications Specialist, Crisis Manager.
Lisa Hanna is a respected, courageous Politico in CARICOM, a leader in the People’s National Party, a former Cabinet Minister of Youth and Culture, a Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the 4 term elected member of parliament for the constituency of South East St. Ann, but that is not how her story began. A humanitarian, thought-leader and strong Jamaican woman, Lisa grew from humble beginnings in Jamaica and holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications from the University of the West Indies (UWI).
During her lifetime she was appointed United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Am- bassador (September 1993), reigned as Miss World 1993, and serves as Director of Lydford Logistics, Ja- maica’s premier value-added agriculture and food processing facility, but she’s best known as a pas- sionate activist, helping marginalized people, women, and at-risk youth–a message she’s championed since she was a teen. Lisa is also a loud advocate for maximizing the export of value-added goods and services into the global economy with the aim of reducing income inequality in Jamaica.
Lisa became Jamaica’s youngest female Member of Parliament when she was elected in 2007 to rep- resent South-East St. Ann. She dove into her new post with zeal, building the state-of-the-art Health Centre of Excellence that continues to service the primary, neo-natal/post-natal, dental and other healthcare needs for members of the community who cannot afford private health care.
When Lisa learned that many SESA residents had no access to potable water, she implemented several water solutions including petitioning the Jamaican government for IDB funds to build a major water well that now provides potable water for another 12% of her constituency.
Cementing her commitment to women and children, Lisa launched a housing project for single/ at-risk mothers, so they could provide a safe home for their children and gain some financial independence. Lisa also continues to support small farmers in SESA by providing access to training, farming tools and simple irrigation systems so they can build their businesses and sustain themselves and their families.
Lisa’s ability to fearlessly face and surmount challenges with grace, integrity and loyalty to her constit- uents and her capacity to engage diverse interests, has placed her at the forefront of Jamaica’s and the region’s political leadership.
As Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa quickly made her mark as a protector of disadvantaged children, earning high favorability ratings among Jamaicans.
Her policy interventions, between 2013-2015, increased the number of children in state care qualifying for tertiary education by 30 times. She removed children from adult correctional facilities and built child-friendly spaces at several police stations across the country. Lisa also placed 855 children with foster families and cleared the 900 case backlog that allowed children to be adopted into safe and loving homes.
Recognizing the need for mental health interventions, Lisa engaged counsellors and clinical psycholo- gists in the assistance of over 2,000 children, 805 of whom were referred to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists for ongoing treatment and medication.
In 2016, Lisa convinced the US Embassy to sponsor Jamaican-born, internationally acclaimed Dr Na- dine Burke Harris, former Surgeon General of California and founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in California, to come to train the staff at the Child Protective and Family Services Agency in Jamaica.
That same year, Jamaica moved up 52 places on the UNICEF Kids Rights Index to be ranked 51 out of 163 countries, proving that Lisa’s combined efforts yielded tangible rewards.
On the side of Culture, Lisa spearheaded the successful lobby for Jamaica’s first-ever election to UNES- CO’s World Heritage Committee, leading to Jamaica’s first and only official World Heritage Site inscrip- tion: ‘The Blue and John Crow Mountains.’
As Minister of Youth & Culture, Lisa made many positive strides towards her goal of protecting children, educating them and giving them opportunities for advancement, but even she will tell you that there is still more to be done. She remains passionate about her causes and continues to this day, to advocate for the welfare and development of future generations of Jamaicans.
As Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Lisa provides constructive insight, analysis and declarative policies for Jamaica’s Loyal Opposition on bi-lateral, multilateral and global geopolitical affairs and trade, for the benefit of all Jamaicans.
In March 2022, Lisa was appointed to APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council (IAC), and joined more than 100 recognized global leaders in business and industry, academics, world-class journalists and editors; NGO and nonprofit pioneers; diplomats and policy experts with invaluable real-world knowledge, who understand the complex issues because they have encountered similar opportunities and challenges — and successfully conquered them — in their own careers.
Lisa’s task on this prestigious council will be to expand the Caribbean and Latin American focus, in particular on food security, trade, and the global economy and matters concerning gender and other kinds of security related to gender. Lisa will also focus on building out government relations for trade and development within these regions.
Personally, Lisa enjoys a rich family life. She is mother to Alexander Panton, wife to Richard Lake, and an avid dog-lover. She continues to proudly represent her SESA constituents and works energetically towards bettering their lives on a daily basis.
In 2021, Lisa added Newspaper Columnist to her resume. She began writing a stirring weekly column in the Jamaica Observer where she shares solutions about how to build a stronger Jamaica with her readers. Lisa believes that each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of those around us. People around the world respect what she has to say in parliament and publicly, which makes her a sought after public speaker for real female empowerment, with her solution-oriented forward-thinking, purposeful actions.