Madeleine Albright’s Potent Legacy for Women

WASHINGTON, DC – I first met Madeleine Albright in 1988, when I was a very junior staffer on Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis’s presidential campaign and she was one of his foreign-policy advisers, alongside Harvard professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., who was already a star in the foreign-policy firmament. Madeleine was teaching at Georgetown, and was already a political veteran, having worked with Walter Mondale, Edmund Muskie, and Geraldine Ferraro.

Virtually anyone connected to the Dukakis campaign or Democratic foreign-policy circles would have predicted that Nye was going to become Secretary of State at some point, not Madeleine. But, eight years later, it was who Madeleine secured the post – the first woman ever to do so. She was working for a different president, Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary Clinton, was a passionate and effective feminist.

It was widely reported at the time that Hillary had lobbied hard for Madeleine’s appointment, just as of course men have lobbied for other men for centuries. But it was the first time I saw the power of networks of women in power, and it was a turning point for an entire generation of women in foreign policy.

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