Madeleine Albright, On Her 80th Birthday, Is Still Unstoppable by the Forward

Madeleine Albright, On Her 80th Birthday, Is Still Unstoppable

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Former Secretary of State and current badass Madeleine Albright turns 80 on May 15, 2017. Here are 8 things about her worth celebrating:

1) Her incredible career

Albright wasn’t just the first female Secretary of State. She’s been a professor of International Relations at Georgetown University for decades, served as an Ambassador to the United Nations and was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.

2) Her fierce and often controversial feminism

Albright started advocating an assertive feminism, demanding a seat at the table, long before Sheryl Sandberg was telling folks to “Lean In.” While Albright remains a feminist icon, she came under fire for a forceful speech she gave at a rally for Hillary Clinton in 2016. “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Albright told the crowd. “It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

3) Her secret Jewish history

Raised a Catholic, Albright didn’t learn she was Jewish, or that two dozen of her relatives had died in Holocaust concentration camps, until she was being vetted for her job as Secretary of State. In her book “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War,” she speaks of this discovery and how it has impacted her since.

“I had been brought up to believe in a history of my Czechoslovak homeland that was less tangled and more straightforward than the reality,” she wrote in the book. “I had much still to learn about the complex moral choices that my parents and others in their generation had been called on to make.”

4)Her serious academic chops

In addition to her work at Georgetown, Albright, the daughter of a rockstar professor Josef Korbel, holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She also serves as chair of the advisory council for The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

5) She is frank about politics and diplomacy

Pat Mitchell’s 2010 TEDWomen interview Albright will make you laugh, think, and appreciate how far women have come.

6) She ate waffles with Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation” and it was magnificent

Well, technically, Knope ate her waffle. But she still called it “a lot of fun.”

And speaking of food,

7) She’s not afraid to eat humble pie

After her “undiplomatic moment” at the aforementioned Hillary Clinton rally, Albright took to the pages of The New York Times to dish out a healthy dose of humility. “I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line,” she wrote.

8) She’s not going anywhere

Even as an octogenarian, Albright is still teaching — and tweeting. “Thanks for the birthday wishes,” Albright tweeted this morning. “I may be getting old but I’m not going mute. Going to keep speaking out for American values & our democracy.”

Madeleine Albright, On Her 80th Birthday, Is Still Unstoppable

Madeleine Albright, On Her 80th Birthday, Is Still Unstoppable

Laura E. Adkins is the Forward’s contributing network editor. Contact her at or on Twitter, @Laura_E_Adkins.

Madeleine Albright, 80, Is Still Unstoppable


Laura E. Adkins

Laura E. Adkins

Laura E. Adkins is the Forward’s Deputy Opinion Editor and runs Scribe, the Forward’s Contributor Network. She holds a B.A. in Economics from NYU and grew up in Southwest Missouri. She writes about data, orthodoxy, kosher wine and builds interactive maps — though usually not all at the same time. Contact Laura at, like her page on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

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