Shelley LEE Lai-kuen
2006 Honorary Fellow
Ms Shelley Lee Lai-kuen joined the Civil Service in 1971, as an Executive Officer. She rose to the rank of Administrative Officer Staff Grade A1 in September 2004 and retired from the position of Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs in October 2005.
Ms Lee was born and grew up in Hong Kong and is an alumna of Maryknoll Convent School, and of the University of Hong Kong where she studied English Literature. She obtained a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University in 1985, attended Tsinghua University in 1996, and the Harvard Business School in 2000.
She has had an illustrious career in the Civil Service and made exemplary contributions to the development of Hong Kong. Her many important posts include being the first female officer to take on the post of Director of the Home Affairs and helped see the community through the transfer of sovereignty in 1997. She has been active in promoting women’s rights and welfare within the civil service and without. She is a founding member and former Chairman of the Association of Female Senior Government Officers formed in 1979 to fight for equal remuneration terms for married women in the civil service. This was achieved in 1981.
She is known fondly to the public, particularly in the education, health and welfare sectors as the ‘Community Godmother’, reflecting her voluntary commitments to our young people. She first acquired her nickname when she went out of her way to care for the young victims of the disastrous Pat Sin Range hill fire in 1996. Together with three fellow female senior civil servants, she set up and raised over 80 millions dollars for the ‘We Care Education Fund’ in 2003 to support the children orphaned by SARS. Ms Lee has recently been invited to join the Board of the Hong Kong Community Chest.
Ms Lee has had a special relationship with the Academy, enthusiastically supporting the establishment and the developments of the Academy since the 1980s. She was a member of the Council from 1989 to 1991 when she was the Commissioner for Recreation and Culture. She has been an active member of the Society of the Academy for Performing Arts and has raised much needed funds (over $1 million) for scholarships for Academy students.
Ms Lee was awarded the ‘Honorary University Fellowship’ by the University of Hong Kong in 2004 for her contributions in community services.