Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Danish pronunciation: [hɛlə ˈtˢoɐ̯neŋ ˈsmet]; born 14 December 1966) is a retired Danish politician who served as the 26th Prime Minister of Denmark from 2011 to 2015, and Leader of the Social Democrats from 2005 to 2015. She is the first woman to hold each post. Following defeat in 2015, she announced that she would step down as both Danish Prime Minister and Social Democratic party leader. Ending her political career in April 2016, she is the chief executive of the NGO Save the Children.Thorning-Schmidt served as a Member of the European Parliament for Denmark from 1999 to 2004 before being elected to the Danish Parliament in 2005. She was elected to replace Mogens Lykketoft as Leader of the Social Democrats after the 2005 parliamentary election, leading her party through the 2007 parliamentary election, which was won by the centre-right alliance, and the 2011 parliamentary election, after which she was appointed Prime Minister by Queen Margrethe II. Thorning-Schmidt holds degrees in political science from the University of Copenhagen and a graduate degree from the College of Europe.