As the 64th U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Korbel Albright became the highest-ranking woman in the history of our nation’s government and one of the world’s most powerful women.
In addition to founding The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm, she currently serves as chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, as the first Michael and Virginia Mortara Endowed Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and the first Distinguished Scholar of the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan’s Business School.
Albright’s father, Josef Korbel, was a highly-regarded diplomat in the Czechoslovak government. Once World War II erupted, the family fled to England, but returned home after the war. Korbel continued his diplomatic service, first as the Ambassador to Yugoslavia and then as a member of the United Nations Kashmir Commission. The communist coup in Czechoslovakia forced the Korbels to seek refuge in the United States. They arrived in New York in 1948 and later moved to Denver, Colorado, where Korbel became a professor.
Madeleine received a full scholarship to Wellesley College where she majored in political science and met Joseph Albright. The two were married three days after her graduation. Two years later, Madeleine gave birth to twin girls, Ann and Alice. Daughter Katie was born in 1967. Unlike many women at the time, the future Secretary of State juggled motherhood with being a full-time graduate student, earning her master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University’s Department of Public Law and Government, as well as a certificate from the Russian Institute.
Albright served as chief legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie for two years before joining President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council and the White House staff in 1978.
Albright took a leave from government service in 1982 and began teaching at Georgetown University, where she also directed the Women in Foreign Service Program. From 1989-1992, she was president of the Center for National Policy, a non-profit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., and in 1983 was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton nominated Albright to be secretary of state. As the nation’s chief diplomatic officer from 1997-2001, Albright reinforced America’s alliances, advocated democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade and business, labor, and environmental standards abroad.
Madeleine Albright remains on the faculty at Georgetown University‘s Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. She is on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations and the advisory council for The Hague Institute for Global Justice. She also serves as an honorary chair for the World Justice Project. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.