Madeleine Korbel Albright '59

Alumnae Achievement Awards 1992

Madeleine Korbel Albright '59
U.S. Secretary of State


Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 was the first woman to serve as the United States Secretary of State and has led a distinguished career, serving in a variety of roles pertaining to foreign policy and international affairs.

Dr. Albright, born in Czechoslovakia, graduated from Wellesley College with honors in political science. She continued her education at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, received a certificate from the Russian Institute at Columbia University, and obtained her master’s and doctorate from the department of public law and government at Columbia University.

From 1976 to 1978, Dr. Albright was a member of the U.S. Senate staff, serving as the chief legislative assistant of Senator Edmund S. Muskie. She continued her role in U.S. politics when she became a staff member of the National Security Council in 1978. As a member of the council, Dr. Albright focused her responsibilities on national security and foreign policy legislation. In 1981, Dr. Albright was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institute. She won the award after submitting her writings on the role of the press in political changes in Poland during the early 1980s.

Dr. Albright joined the faculty of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1982, where she served as a research professor of international affairs and as the director of the program for women in the Foreign Service. These positions allowed her to teach graduate and undergraduate courses in international affairs and foreign policy, and she was also able to implement and develop programs to encourage women’s opportunities in international affairs. 

Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State, Dr. Albright served as the president of the Center for National Policy and as the United States permanent representative to the United Nations. In 1996, she was nominated as the 64th secretary of state by President Clinton, and during her tenure, Dr. Albright strengthened American alliances and influenced foreign policy decisions, particularly in the Middle East and the Balkans.

Since 2001, Albright has returned to Georgetown University to be the Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, and she serves on the board of directors for the Council on Foreign Relations. She has also participated in White House discussions of foreign policy with Bush administration officials and other former secretaries of defense and state. Currently, Dr. Albright is the chairperson of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation.


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