3 minute read

Madeleine Korbel Albright

Further Readings

Madeleine Korbel Albright served from 1997 to 2001 as U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, the government's highest-ranking foreign relations officer. She has the distinction of being the first woman to serve in this position. Albright, who has also taught international affairs, has had a long association with DEMOCRATIC PARTY presidential candidates, advising them on foreign policy.

Albright was born on May 15, 1937, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the daughter of a Czech diplomat. In 1939 her family left Czechoslovakia for London, arriving shortly before the outbreak of WORLD WAR II. After the war ended in 1945, the family returned to their homeland but left again in 1948 following the Communist takeover of the Czech government. The family settled in the United States in 1949.

Albright earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Wellesley College in 1959 and then studied at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She then entered the graduate program at Columbia University, receiving her master's degree and doctorate from the university's Department of Public Law and Government. While working on her advanced degrees, Albright served in the diplomatic corps, acting as counselor for economic affairs at the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, from 1969 to 1972. She also worked for the EXPORT-IMPORT BANK.

After receiving her doctorate in 1976, Albright joined the staff of Democratic Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, serving as his chief legislative assistant until 1978. She became a staff member of the NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL in 1978, serving President JIMMY CARTER until he left office in 1981.

Albright shifted her focus in 1981 to academia. She was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian (1981-82), following an international competition in which she wrote about the role the press played in the political changes that occurred in Poland during the early 1980s. Her findings were published in Poland, the Role of the Press in Political Change (1983). Albright also served as a senior fellow in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, conducting research in developments and trends in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. From 1982 to 1993, Albright taught at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, lecturing on international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, and Central and Eastern European politics. She was also responsible for developing and implementing programs designed to enhance women's professional opportunities in international affairs. From 1989 to 1993, Albright was president of the Center for National Policy, a nonprofit research organization formed in 1981 by representatives from government, industry, labor, and education to promote the study and discussion of domestic and international issues.

Albright began working with Democratic presidential candidates in 1984 when she advised Walter F. Mondale on foreign policy. She served in a similar role for 1988 nominee Michael Dukakis and did the same for BILL CLINTON in 1992. After he was elected president, Clinton named Albright chief U.S. representative to the UNITED NATIONS, a cabinet-level position.

After President Clinton was reelected in 1996, he made changes in his cabinet. In December 1996 Clinton nominated Albright as secretary of state. After being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she was sworn in as secretary of state on January 23, 1997.


The outspoken and dynamic Albright reinforced U.S. alliances, promoted American trade and business, and sought to establish international standards on trade and HUMAN RIGHTS. Albright advocated for the expansion and modernization of NATO and helped coordinate NATO's successful campaign to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. She helped to promote

peace in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, and the Balkans.

Albright sought the expansion of democracy in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America; she traveled to China to promote trade with the United States and also to address human rights issues. In June 2000 Albright and representatives from all over the world convened the first ever Conference of the Community of Democracies. Albright also led the fight to reverse a decade-long drop in funding for U.S. embassies and overseas operations by helping to persuade Congress to increase funding by 17 percent.

In May 2001, Albright returned to Georgetown University where she accepted an endowed chair in the School of Foreign Service. She lectures at COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES and has appeared on numerous television news commentary programs since leaving the STATE DEPARTMENT.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Air weapon to Approximation of laws