Eleanor Smith, a theatre nurse from Birmingham, has been elected president of the union Unison, becoming the first black woman to hold the office.
Ms Smith started her nurse training at the age of 19 at George Eliot Hospital and currently works at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
As Unison president, she said she plans to focus on equality and the government cuts.
She said: “I am proud to be president of the union as we face some of our biggest challenges. Tackling inequality in the workplace and promoting fairer access to public services has always been a priority for me, but is even more important now that Tory-led cuts are driving a wedge through local communities.
“Everyone is suffering, and women, young people, and ethnic minorities even more so as the vital public services, and jobs they rely on are being taken away.”
Her union career began in 1990 when she became a NUPE shop steward.
In 2003, following NUPE’s merger with Unison, she became Unison’s convenor for the West Midlands region. In 2004 she was elected to the National Executive Council, Unison’s ruling body, to represent the West Midlands.
Ms Smith has been active in the union working on the Trades Union Congress race relations committee since 2005, representing Unison on the TUC general council and working as the vice-chair of the Midlands TUC.