"While democracy in the long run is the most stable form of government, in the short run, it is among the most fragile."
Madeleine Korbel Albright (1937– )
LLD (hon.) 1995
The daughter of a Czech diplomat, Madeleine Albright fled her native land twice as a childfirst in 1938 to escape the Nazis, and finally in 1948 to escape the Communists. She was 11 when she came to the United States for good, but her worldview would be shaped by those early experiences: "My mindset is Munich," she said, referring to the infamous 1938 agreement that allowed Nazi Germany to occupy Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. "Most of my generation's is Vietnam." Appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by President Bill Clinton, Albright was the first woman to hold that position; she emphasized human rights and advocated U.N. military action to protect those rights and to prevent genocide. In January 1997, she became the first female Secretary of State and the highest ranking woman in the U.S. government. As secretary, she advocated an active international role for the United States - by then the world's only superpower - and an expanded role for NATO. Before joining the Clinton Administration, Albright held various positions in government and academia - as chief legislative assistant to Sen. Edmund Muskie, as a member of the National Security Council and White House staffs, and as a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University. After her nomination as Secretary of State, she was surprised to discover Jewish roots and to learn that three of her Czech grandparents had been killed in concentration camps.