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Portrait of Madeleine Albright.

Madeleine K. Albright is best known as the first female Secretary of State for the United States of America. Appointed by President Bill Clinton with unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, she served as Secretary of State from January 23, 1997 to January 20, 2001. At the time, she was the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government and was fourth in the line of succession to become President of the United States of America.  Prior to her term as Secretary of State, Ms. Albright served as the 20th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations between 1993 and 1997. During her terms in the State Department and United Nations, she established women’s issues as central tenets to American foreign policy from a national security perspective, stating, “Societies are better off when women are politically and economically empowered.”


Ms. Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. As a child, she spent time in England and then moved back to Czechoslovakia prior to immigrating to the USA in 1947. She earned her B. A. in Political Science from Wellesley College in 1959. Ms. Albright then studied Russian and International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University Paul A. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in the 1960s. She earned her M. A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. She was also the Keynote Speaker at the SAIS Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies’ 30th Anniversary Celebration in 2016. She is fluent in English, Czech, French, Polish, and Russian.

Her 2010 Ted Talk interview entitled “On Being a Woman and a Diplomat” grew out of her long-time advocacy for increasing the representation of women in international relations. She founded the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College. Well known for her mentorship to younger women, Albright says, “My motto is that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

Ms. Albright frequently wore decorative pins to convey subtle and not-so-subtle messages during diplomatic meetings. The multicolored glass pin she wore during her TED Talk interview represented “breaking the glass ceiling.” She credits the inspiration for her brooch collection to Saddam Hussein who compared her to an “unparalleled serpent.” The next time she spoke about Iraq, she wore a snake pin. After discovering an electronic listening device planted in her room, she wore a large bug pin to a meeting with Russian diplomats. Her book, “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Toolbox.” shares stories of her pin collection and how she used them.

Madeleine K. Albright is the author of five books, including "Madame Secretary: A Memoir." She is the Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, the National Democratic Institute, and the Albright Capital Management LLC. She is also a Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.


Madeleine's bio contributed by TAMARA L. HENDRICKSON, PhD.


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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
About the Project.
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