Did you know that Madeleine Albright was once a refugee? Born in Czechoslovakia, her family fled to Britain during the Nazi reign because of the danger associated with her father, Josef Korbel's and his connection to the Czech leader Edvard Benes. She even debuted in a documentary as a child refugee to entice public sympathy. She was given a stuffed animal as payment for her acting skills.
When the war was over and they returned to Prague her father was worried that the current communist environment would inculcate her with communist ideals and so he sent her to a finishing school in Switzerland where she changed her name from "Marie Jana" to "Madeleine", a nickname given to her by her grandmother. When the Soviet Union helped the Czechoslovakia government to take over, forcing Josef to resign, her family rode the SS America to Ellis Island and after her father was granted political asylum, they began their new life in America. She spent her teen years in Denver and while in high school she started Kent Denver School's first International relations club and her skills for leadership first developed. She received a full ride scholarship to Wellesley College where she studied political science.
During an internship at the Denver Post she met her husband Joseph Patterson Albright. They married just days after her college graduation (a family tradition) and later settled in NJ where she had twin daughters, Alice and Anne. During her pregnancy and shortly after she began studying Russian as a distraction and continued her political studies. She received her Ph. D. from Columbia University and gave birth to her third daughter Katherine in 1967.
Eventually Albright became a professor at Georgetown University and was director of their Women in Foreign Service program. But it was after her experiences in a few political campaigns she found herself serving as Geraldine Ferraro's foreign policy adviser which led to her nomination as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
During her time as an Ambassador she says she learned that she must speak out as a woman. Often the only woman in the room, she found that opportunities to speak were not handed to her but that she must interject herself in order to be heard. She said, "Women have to be active listeners and interrupters - but when you interrupt, you have to know what you are talking about."
In 1997 she made history when she was sworn in as the first female Secretary of State, making her the highest ranking female in the U.S. government of the time.
One trademark of her time in office was her use of jewelry to make personal statements. She was often seen wearing beautiful pins on her blouses that regularly had meanings. For example when she was appointed Secretary of state she wore an antique eagle to represent America or after allegations of the Russian secret service "bugging" the the State Department she wore jewel encrusted bugs to her meeting with the Russian Prime Minister. Her pins became so famous that they even had a showing at the Smithsonian Institute and a book published, entitled: Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box.
Albright is an exceptional woman with many accomplishments in a life, accomplishments that could have been thwarted had her family not been so blessed and aided as refugees. She knew the value of an education and pursued every opportunity to gain as much knowledge as possible early in life. She manage to balance mom life and a professional career in a time when not many women were given the chance. Her hard work and dedication set her apart and allowed her to blaze new trails for women to follow. She wasn't afraid to face fears and challenge herself. We love this trailblazing woman and are happy to add her to our collection.