At the time of the Cylon attack, Laura Roslin was the secretary of education. She was being escorted by a coterie of military vessels led by Lee Adama when the attack wiped out much of humanity including the government. 43rd in line of succession she is sworn in as the new president.
Although the role was thrust on her in time of crisis and she is still adjusting, Roslin is well-suited to the task. She is highly intelligent, politically and diplomatically savvy, is smart enough to surround herself with strong advisors and is open to admitting when she doesn't know something or is wrong.
DID YOU KNOW: Roslin is somewhat spiritual and relies on the priestess Elosha to help guide the fleet in its mission to find earth.
Shortly before the attack Roslin was diagnosed with breast cancer which she is keeping a secret from everyone, including Admiral Adama. Only Dr. Cottle knows of her condition.
Although her relationship with Admiral Adama gets off to a somewhat rocky start the pair come to a more friendly place. She also becomes close with Lee "Apollo" Adama and relies on him as a trusted advisor.
Roslin wisely presents an undaunted face of resolve to the fleet but is privately wracked with concern over the wisdom, or potential futility, of the mission and the fate of the survivors.