Born and educated in New Zealand, Judith Mayhew Jonas graduated LLM from the University of Otago, where she lectured before moving to the UK as a lecturer in law at King's College, University of London. Here she set up and became Director of the Anglo French Law Degree (Sorbonne), the first joint degree in Europe.
In 1989, Judith entered private practice as an employment lawyer, and became Special Adviser to the Chairman at Clifford Chance, the world's largest law firm, before resigning to concentrate on her other roles. In 2006 she was appointed to the Board of Directors of Merrill Lynch in New York.
She was elected to the City of London Corporation in 1986 and became Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee in 1996. She held this position of Leader of the Council for six years during which time she was a board member and chairman of several regeneration partnerships.
She currently chairs the London New York Dialogue and the British Dutch Dialogue, The Apeldoorn Conference. In 2008 she was appointed Chairman of The New West End Company.
She was Deputy Chairman of the London Development Agency and chaired the business committee, and a Vice President of London First. In 2009 she was appointed to the Mayor of London's Promote London Council which resulted in the creation of London & Partners, an economic development and promotional company for London. In 2011 she was appointed as its Chairman.
She has also served on a number of boards of educational and cultural institutions in recent years, including Birkbeck College, Imperial College London, Gresham College and the Natural History Museum. From 2003-06 she was Provost of King’s College Cambridge.
She was Chairman of The Royal Opera House from 2003-08 and from 2008-11 she was Chairman of the Independent Schools Council. She is a Trustee of The Imperial War Museum and chairs its redevelopment committee.
She was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in the 2002 Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to the City of London.