WOMENS-symbolToday I begin a new segment on my site.  Throughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways.  Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women.  There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them.  Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include?  I welcome your suggestions.  Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women?  Let me hear from you.

Today for the first post, meet Madeline Albright.

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright

On May 15, 1937, Madeleine Jana Korbel was born in Prague, Czech Republic.  Based on what we know about this area of the world at the time of her birth, it is not surprising that the toddler fled Czechoslovakia when her native country was invaded by the Nazis.  She would lose three of her grandparents during the Holocaust.

Madeleine Albright, flanked by grandmothers Růžena Spieglová (left) and Olga Körbelová. (Courtesy Madeleine Albright and Harper Collins)

Madeleine Albright, flanked by grandmothers Růžena Spieglová (left) and Olga Körbelová. (Courtesy Madeleine Albright and Harper Collins)

 

She was raised as a Catholic after her parents converted from Judaism.  Ten years later when the communists took power, the Korbel family left for good and settled in Colorado in the United States.  Her father, Josef Korbel became a distinguished professor at the University of Denver and one of his favorite students was another future secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.  Madeleine grew up learning about world affairs at her father’s side.  He was also a diplomat for much of her early life.

Madeleine Korbel (the future Madeleine Albright) and her father Josef Korbel are pictured on Christmas Eve 1943 in England.

Madeleine Korbel (the future Madeleine Albright) and her father Josef Korbel are pictured on Christmas Eve 1943 in England.

Madeleine studied at Wellesley College after receiving a scholarship where she edited the school newspaper and pursued politics.  Interning at the Denver Post, she met another intern, Joseph Albright, a publishing heir. 

Joseph and Madeleine Albright, June 11, 1959

Joseph and Madeleine Albright, June 11, 1959

They married in 1959 and raised three daughters. 

Madeleine Albright and her three daughters at the unveiling of her portrait

Madeleine Albright and her three daughters at the unveiling of her portrait

While Joseph worked as a journalist, Madeleine was a stay at home mom but also continued her education.  At Columbia University in 1968,  she earned a certificate in Russian studies and completed her Ph.D in 1976.

1959, Massachusetts, USA --- Senior Portarit from Wesley College of Madeleine Albright --- Image by © Sygma/Corbis

1959, Massachusetts, USA — Senior Portarit from Wesley College of Madeleine Albright — Image by © Sygma/Corbis

Madeleine first entered the political arena as a legislative assistant to Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie in 1972. Four years later, she was hired by her former professor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, to work for the National Security Council during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. The Democrats fall from power in the early 1980s meant that Madeleine moved to the private sector. She became a professor at Georgetown University, winning its Teacher of Year Award four times.

Also around this time, Madeleine and her husband divorced after he left her for another woman; however she rose above it in her career and her social life.   As host, she brought together the top of the Democratic party to discuss issues of the day at her townhouse.  She soon became one of the party’s leading authority on foreign policy.  Madeleine served as an advisor to Michael Dukakis during his failed 1988 presidential bid.

President Bill Clinton appointed Madeleine as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations where she filled the post in January 1993.   During her four years in the position, she became an advocate for “assertive multilateralism.” She lobbied for the United States to expand its military involvement in the Balkans — a move that she publicly clashed with Colin Powell over. She also supported U.S. intervention in Haiti. According to The New Republic, she said that “U.S. leadership in world politics and in multilateral organizations is a fundamental tenet of the Clinton Administration.”

In December 1996, President Bill Clinton demonstrated his confidence in Madeleine’s foreign policy authority again when he nominated her to be the first female secretary of state and she was sworn in the following January.

Madeleine Albright sworn in as first female secretary of state. ABCNEWS.com. Image from. Jan. 23, 1997

Madeleine Albright sworn in as first female secretary of state. ABCNEWS.com. Image from. Jan. 23, 1997

During her time as secretary, she worked on a broad range of issues which included a campaign for human rights and the fight to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. A champion of NATO, she sought to expand the organization’s membership. She also worked to bring peace to the Middle East.

After leaving her post as secretary of state in 2001, Madeleine wrote several books, including Madam Secretary: A Memoir (2003) and The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs (2006).   Known for her symbolic use of jewelry on the job, she also wrote Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box (2009).

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One of her most recent works is Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 (2012).

With her international expertise, Albright launched a private investment fund in 2007. Albright Capital Management seeks to make long-term investments for its clients in emerging markets. Albright also serves as the co-chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm.

Albright has received numerous honors for her contributions to diplomacy, democracy and world affairs. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama

Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama

Source: “Madeleine Korbel Albright.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 16 May 2014.

 

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8 responses

  1. This is going to be an interesting series, which I look forward to learning from. It interests me that in Albright’s early career she was surrounded by men in the political arena of little stature when it was all said and done. I wonder if anyone has written about that? May I suggest Laura Bush, who’s many accomplishments were often buried on the back pages of the newspapers, if at all.

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  2. Sheryl says:

    I look forward to your new series. It will be interesting to see which women you end up featuring. I don’t have specific suggestions, but think that it would be interesting to read about women with a wide range of backgrounds and interests–science, humanitarian, the arts, political and advocacy, etc.

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  3. Birgit says:

    This will be great to read about and great way to start it off. I always liked her even though I don’t consider myself knowing much about politics. I would love to hear about Eleanor Roosevelt, Marion Anderson and Eleanor of Aquitine-I hope I spelt these right:)

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  4. Crooked Tracks says:

    I am so glad that I found your blog through Sheryl 🙂 Judy

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