Who was the United States of America’s first female secretary of state?

And the answer: Madeleine Albright.    

Albright served on the National Security Council under President Carter, then taught at Georgetown University. In 1993, she became the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton. She held that position until 1997, when she succeeded Warren Christopher as Secretary of State.

Photo credit: Carnegie.org

From a tumultuous childhood to first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright's rise to prominence in the political sphere has earned her an immortalized place in American politics. Born Marie Jana Korbel in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), Korbel spent her early years fleeing from Nazi-occupied territories in eastern and western Europe. In 1997, Korbel learned that the motivation for her family's relocation was her Jewish heritage and the loss of her grandparents to concentration camps.

In 1948, Korbel settled in the United States. By 1958, she had graduated from Wellesley College and married Joseph Albright, a member of the Medill newspaper-publishing family. Albright earned her masters from Columbia University, and with it, promptly entered the political sphere. However, it wasn't until Bill Clinton was elected president that her name grew in its recognizability. Named ambassador to the United Nations, Albright's reputation was one of a tough, no-nonsense advocate for American interests. Consequently, her appointment to Secretary of State was unanimous in 1997.

In office, Albright remained a fierce advocate for human rights and global democracy. Today, she remains active in the political sphere. Learn more about Madeleine Albright and her legacy here.

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