St Kitts and Nevis: Lanien Blanchette has been elected as the new speaker of the House of Assembly of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, and she is now the third female speaker of the House. Blanchette is the successor of the second female speaker – Marcella Liburd, and the first female speaker pre-independence – Ada Mae Edward.
The speaker and the deputy speaker of the National Assembly were elected by the Members of Parliament during the opening of the New Session. According to Saint Christopher and Nevis Constitutions’ Section 32, “The speaker of the Assembly must be chosen when the National Assembly commences for the first time following any general election and before any other business is dispatched. The National Assembly members who are not members of the Cabinet or Parliamentary Secretaries, as well as individuals who are not Assembly members but meet the requirements to be elected as Representatives or appointed as Senators, may vote for the speaker.”
Lanien Blanchette was raised in the Saddlers area; she has spent the last 14 years living in her father’s hometown of Green Valley, Cayon. She is an ethical attorney at law. Lanien graduated from Monroe College in New York in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with honours. In 2009, after she returned, she was hired as a secretary by the government of Saint Christopher and Nevis’ Ministry of National Security. Her entry into the public sector fuelled a desire to serve others, and her work in the ministry introduced her to issues that further aroused her curiosity and compelled her to pursue her passion for criminal law and the justice system. At the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus (Barbados), Lanien Blanchette, in 2012, enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws programme. She held the positions of Vice President of the St. Kitts Nevis Student Association and Chairperson of the Law Society Sports Committee, allowing her to combine her studies with sports.
Speaker finished her degree with honours in 2015. Then she went on to the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica to continue a comprehensive legal education, where she eventually earned her Legal Education Certificate in 2017. She used her training and experience from her internships at the Intellectual Property Office, the Attorney General’s Chambers, and the Director of Public Prosecutions Office to serve her country as a Crown Counsel in the Director of Public Prosecutions Office, where she prosecuted criminal matters federally in the Magistrates and High Courts until June 2022. She was called to the Bar in November of that same year.
“Finish the race strong, no matter how long or hard, slow and steady at all times,” is her personal mantra. She is currently the business’s founder and Lead Counsel. The election of Lanien Blanchette to the position of Speaker of the House is aligned with the government’s commitment to making sure that gender equality is a top priority and that women and young people are given the opportunity to serve at the level of decision-making.