Madeleine Korbel Albright, sworn in as the 64th United States Secretary of State in 1997 after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, became the first female Secretary of State and the highest ranking woman in the United States government. As Secretary of State and as U.S. representative to the United Nations before that, she has created policies and institutions to help guide the world into a new century of peace and prosperity.
Concentrating on a bipartisan approach to U.S. foreign policy, she attempted to create a consensus on the need for U.S. leadership and engagement in the world. Among her achievements were ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention and progress toward stability in Eastern and Central Europe.
Albright has dedicated her life to international study. After receiving her B.A. at Wellesley College, she studied international relations at Johns Hopkins University before earning her M.A. and Ph.D. at Columbia University. Before her appointment as Secretary of State, she had a diverse career. Albright was Sen. Edward Muskie’s Chief Legislative Assistant; a Woodrow Wilson fellow; president of the Center for National Policy, a nonprofit research organization; and Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Women in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. During President Clinton’s first term, Albright served as the United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of Clinton’s National Security Council.
As a refugee whose family fled Czechoslovakia, first from the Nazis and later from the Communists, Albright represents the highest ideals and aspirations of immigrants who come to America seeking to make major contributions to our society. As a leader in international relations, she has helped change the course of history and, in so doing, has also set a new standard for American women and for women around the world.
After leaving the Secretary of State post in 2001, she authored several bestsellers, launched a private investment fund, and provides global strategy consulting. In 2012, Albright received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.