A Tribute to the United States’ First Female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright

Just over a month ago, former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, passed away from cancer at the age of 84. Madeleine Albright was an amazing woman and is most famous for being the first woman who was positioned as secretary of state. Many admired her for paving the way for women to find their way into government seats. A memorial service was held for her on April 27, 2022, and many attended including the First Family and the Clintons. 

Madeleine Albright was born Marie Jana Korbel to her parents in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) on May 15, 1937. Her family was Jewish when the Nazi’s occupied her home, so her family fled to England only to return for a short while before fleeing to the United States from the communist regime in post-WWII. 

Madeleine graduated from Wellesley College in 1959 and married her husband, Joseph Albright shortly thereafter. Continuing her education at Columbia University, she received a masters degree and PHD in public law and government. 

Albright’s career was nothing short of amazing. After working at a couple of publishing companies with her husband, she moved into the political world. Albright served as a chief legislative assistant to Senator Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) from 1976 to 1978. She then was a White House staffer under President Jimmy Carter, and was on the National Security Council under National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. During the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Albright worked for many non-profit organizations as she opened her home to Democratic politicians and policy makers. She also worked as a professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University from 1982 to 1993. 

Once President Bill Clinton was elected into office, Albright’s career took a brighter turn when he named her ambassador to the United Nations in 1993. At the UN she gained a reputation for tough-mindedness as a fierce advocate for American interests, and she promoted an increased role for the United States in UN operations, particularly those with a military component. Her nomination to the position of secretary of state was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 1997.

While serving as Secretary of State, Albright was a major proponent of military intervention and a champion of human rights. Most notably in 1999 Albright pushed for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombings in Yugoslavia to halt the ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serbian forces. This war was known as Madeleine’s war and ended after 11 weeks when Yugoslavia agreed to NATO’s terms. 

After she left her position as Secretary of State, Madeleine started the Albright Group, a consulting firm in Washington D.C. and was an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2016. At her memorial service, Hillary Clinton thanked the Albright family for sharing their wife and mother. President Joe Biden said that Albright “never forgot where she came from or who she was” and that she was a “truly proud American.”

Madeleine Albright was an incredible woman who stood by her beliefs. Hillary Clinton read a passage from Albright’s autobiography at the memorial service which summed up Albright’s worthwhile career: “there is no shortage of worthwhile work to be done and no surprise of seasons in which to do it.”

Leave a Reply