The Death of Madeleine Albright

On March 23, 2022, 84-year-old Madeleine Albright passed away. As the first woman to serve as the United States secretary of state, she paved the way for women in politics.

Madeleine Albright, originally named Marie Jana Korbel, was born May 15, 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She was the daughter of a Czech diplomat, and when the Nazi’s occupied Czecgoslovakia, their family had to escape to England but came back after the war. By 1948, they came to the United States for her father’s job.

Her family valued education, and in 1959, Albright graduated from Wellesley College with a BA and married journalist Joseph Albright. Albright went back to school and earned her Master’s from Columbia and worked for Democrat Edmund Muskies presidential campaign. After his loss to Nixon in the 1968 election, Muskie hired her to serve as his chief legislative assistant in the Senate. Albright then went back to Columbia for her Ph.D, and worked under Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor. When Carter lost the vote for re-election in 1980, Albright went to Washington, D.C. where she continued to be involved in politics, research, and nonprofits, while teaching at Georgetown University. She also worked as a democratic foreign policy advisor for Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Due to her excellent work in D.C., in 1992, Bill Clinton was elected and Albright worked to transition to the new administration at the National Security Council. In 1993, Clinton nominated her to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. There, she was known as a hard working, tough, and intelligent woman who fought for American interests. After re-election in 1997, Clinton nominated Albright to serve as his Secretary of State, the second highest-ranking government position for naturalized citizens, which was then unanimously approved by the Senate. She became the first female U.S. Secretary of State and the highest-ranking woman in U.S. government history at the time. During her time in office, she focused on American foreign policy, human rights, and democracy.

After Clinton’s term, Albright founded a consulting firm in D.C., and served on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations. She went on to write many books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, the highest civilian award reserved only for those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Madeleine’s work in politics has not only been groundbreaking in her policies, but has also been an inspiration for generations of young women. After her death, Clinton released a statement saying, “She was one of the finest Secretaries of State, an outstanding UN Ambassador, a brilliant professor, and an extraordinary human being.” Though she is no longer with us, she lives on through her dedication to making the world a better place.