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Madeleine Albright Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.


Birth date: May 15, 1937

Death date: March 23, 2022

Birth place: Prague, Czechoslovakia

Birth name: Marie Jana Korbelova

Father: Josef Korbel, diplomat

Mother: Mandula Korbel

Marriage: Joseph Albright (1959-1983, divorced)

Children: Katharine, 1967; Anne and Alice (twins), 1961

Education: Wellesley College, B.A., 1959; Columbia University, M.A., 1968; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1976

Religion: Raised Roman Catholic, converted to Episcopalian

Other Facts

The first female secretary of state of the United States.

Known for wearing brooches or decorative pins to convey her foreign policy messages.

Her family escaped Czechoslovakia 10 days after the Nazi invasion.

Albright learned later in life about her family’s Jewish heritage.


1976-1978 – Maine Senator Edmund Muskie’s chief legislative assistant.

1978-1981 – Serves as a White House staff member and congressional liaison for the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Carter administration.

1981 – Senior fellow in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

1982-1993 – Serves a dual appointment at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service: research professor of International Affairs and director of the Women in Foreign Service Program.

1984 – Works as foreign policy coordinator for the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Walter Mondale.

1984-1993 – Vice-chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

1988 – Senior foreign policy adviser for the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis.

1989-1993 – President of the Center for National Policy.

1990 – Works as an interpreter and adviser to Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel during his first state visit.

1992 – Foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

January 27, 1993 – Is confirmed as the US ambassador to the United Nations.

January 23, 1997 – Albright is sworn in as the 64th secretary of state.

April 23, 1997 – Testifies on NATO expansion in hearings before the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

October 23-24, 2000 – Visits Pyongyang, North Korea, becoming the highest-ranking US official ever to visit the country or meet its leader, Kim Jong II.

January 20, 2001 – Albright leaves office when Clinton’s second term ends and President George W. Bush is inaugurated.

2001 – Founds global strategy firm The Albright Group LLC.

Winter 2001-present – Serves as chairwoman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

2003 – Her book “Madam Secretary: A Memoir” is published.

March 23, 2004 – Testifies during the 9-11 Commission hearings on what she and the Clinton administration did to combat al Qaeda and terrorism during Clinton’s eight years in office.

2005-present – Faculty member at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

2006 – Her book “The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs” is published.

January 2007 – Forms a hedge fund specializing in emerging markets, Albright Capital Management.

2008 – Her book “Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership” is published.

2009 – Her book “Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box” is published.

2009 – The Albright Group LLC merges with Stonebridge International, creating global strategic advisory firm Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG). Albright serves as co-chair.

May 2010 – Albright chairs a NATO panel on the future of the coalition. The panel releases a report titled “NATO 2020: Assured Security, Dynamic Engagement.”

June 18, 2010 – “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection” an exhibition of over 200 of Albright’s famous brooches, opens at the Smithsonian.

2012 – Her book “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948” is published.

May 29, 2012 – Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

January 31, 2017 – Albright tells CNN’s Chris Cuomo she thinks President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban is “just flat anti-American,” and goes against America’s fundamental values.

April 10, 2018 – Her book “Fascism: A Warning” is published.

February 26, 2019 – During a House of Representatives committee hearing, states that she owes an apology to US Senator Mitt Romney for having mocked him when he said that Russia was America’s “geopolitical foe” during his 2012 presidential campaign. She says, “I think that we underestimated what was going on in Russia.”

April 14, 2020 – Albright’s book “Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st Century Memoir” is published.

February 23, 2022 – In a New York Times op-ed, Albright argues that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would be making “a historic error” in invading Ukraine and warns of devastating costs to his country.

March 23, 2022 – After battling cancer, Albright dies at age 84.

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