Gordon Brown promoted Baroness Ashton of Upholland to Leader of the House of Lords in his first reshuffle.
The 52-year-old was also made Lord President of the Council and took up briefs as the Government's spokeswoman for equality and the Cabinet Office in the Lords.
It marked the latest in a line of jobs since the former Catherine Ashton was given a life peerage in 1999.
In 2001 she was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills, taking charge of Sure Start in 2002.
In 2004 she took up a similar role at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, before her promotion last year. She also became a Privy Councillor in 2006.
Born in Upholland, Lancashire - from where she takes her title - Baroness Ashton studied economics at London University.
She spent six years tackling inequality in the business community and later chaired Hertfordshire's health authority.
Married to journalist and pollster Peter Kellner since 1988, she has two children and three stepchildren.
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