Jackie Ballard was born in Dunoon, Argyll. She joined the Liberal Party in the 1980s and was elected a councillor for South Somerset District Council (1987-91) and Somerset County Council (1993-97). In parliament Ballard was a vocal opponent of fox and stag hunting and this was seen as one reason she narrowly lost her seat. She was a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats after the resignation of Paddy Ashdown but was eliminated in the third round. After leaving parliament, Ballard served as Director General of the RSPCA, Chief Executive of RNID and Chief Executive of Womankind Worldwide.