Lucretia Torva, Jacinda, acrylic on canvas, 36"x48", 2019, $2,900
Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern, b. 1980
She is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has been called an “authentic” leader: open, honest and effective. She has recently received high praise for her handling of the COVID-19 crisis. “Her messages are clear, consistent, and somehow simultaneously sobering and soothing. And her approach isn’t just resonating with her people on an emotional level. It is also working remarkably well.”
Ms Ardern was on my shortlist as soon as I read about her handling of a mass shooting with assault rifles. It was at a mosque and 50 people were murdered. Within less than a week assault rifles were banned. To quote an article about her empathy balance with action: ‘Yet in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack, Ardern has voiced her nation’s grief with admirable compassion and resolve. Her caring and authentic response, firmly rejecting racism and erasing the attacker from the national debate, demonstrated a deep empathy when matched with her swift actions to enact comprehensive reform. It is this pairing of compassion with immediate action that has proven each to be genuine.”
I have pictured her smiling. As someone who has chosen the role of public servant and politician, I imagine her genuinely caring about everyone and always being ready with a heartwarming smile.