madeline albright speaking at graduation
Category: Fall 2022, Georgetown Magazine

Title:Georgetown celebrates the life of Madeleine Albright

Author: Bhriana Smith
Date Published: September 26, 2022

It is always an honor to know someone who changes the trajectory of history. Georgetown was lucky to know Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright, the first woman U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and cherished professor, who died earlier this year at the age of 84.

Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Albright was a distinguished diplomat, author, business leader, and human rights champion. A Georgetown Law parent, she joined the university as a faculty member in 1982, serving as the Michael and Virginia Mortara Endowed Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is remembered as someone who never missed a day of class, despite her global commitments and life work.

madeleine albright shaking hands
Photo: Lisa Helfert

Her course “America’s National Security Toolbox” was a rite of passage for generations of students. Toward the end of each semester, her students put their knowledge to the test in an all-day simulation where they developed a U.S. response to a foreign policy crisis. Her commitment to her students was evident through the pandemic, when she moved the entire course online and even added elements of the real-world crisis—the pandemic—to the curriculum.

Albright’s commitment to excellence and change extended beyond the classroom. From 1993 to 1997, she served as a member of President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council and White House staff, as president of the Center for National Policy, and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In 1997, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first female Secretary of State. She became the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government during that era. In 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.

Albright will always be remembered as a committed teacher, a leader in global diplomacy, and an agent of change.

madeleine albright talking with dean hellman
Photo: Lisa Helfert

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