This fall, the first woman to become U.S. Secretary of State will speak at Boston College. On Nov. 4, Robsham Theater will host politician and diplomat Madeleine Albright for a colloquium sponsored by the Council for Women of Boston College (CWBC).
In 1997, during the Clinton administration, Albright became Secretary of State. Before, during, and after her tenure as secretary, Albright strongly advocated for a wide range of issues, including the spread of democracy and military intervention in developing countries.
Before making her way to the top position in the Department of State, Albright was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. In this role, she was well-known for her adamant stances on foreign affairs.
Kathleen McGillycuddy, a 1971 graduate of Newton College of the Sacred Heart (which merged with BC in 1975), the chair of the CWBC, and the former chair of the BC Board of trustees, believes this strong-willed mindset fits well with the goals of the CWBC, a network of alumnae that uses programming to create a social atmosphere that encourages female agency.
“The goal is to advance the role of women as leaders at Boston College,” McGillycuddy said.
The Council works with both undergraduate students and alumni as part of its mission to promote leadership among all women involved in the University’s community. Through mentorship, it provides the resources and teaches the skills any woman might need to reach her full potential after graduation, in the career-oriented world. The CWBC has also donated a significant amount to the University via fundraising events.
“The Colloquium is meant to bring outstanding speakers to campus to address various aspects of women and leadership,” Mary Crane, Rattigan professor of English, said in an email. “They especially hope that students at BC will be inspired by these speakers.”
Looking at Albright’s previous achievements and current projects, McGillycuddy and her fellow members of the board decided that she would be the ideal choice as speaker for this event because she embodies the strong, positive influence they wanted to have on the school community as a whole—not just females.
“She is so directly involved,” McGillycuddy said, referring to Albright’s continued position in world affairs.
One of the priorities for a speaker is someone who remains engaged. Albright exhibited such involvement in the work she has done in the U.S. and abroad since the end of her term in 2001. This involves her current role as chairwoman of the Albright Stonebridge Group, an international business advisory firm, as well as founder of Albright Capital Management.
Born in Prague, her family fled then-Czechoslovakia 10 days after it was invaded by the Nazis in 1939. They escaped the conflict, and soon her father, a Czech diplomat, was granted political asylum in the U.S. She continued her education overseas, attending Wellesley College and Columbia University, and later began her political career as a White House staffer.
In 2008, she began documenting her childhood as well as parts of her political life in books including, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box and Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War: 1937-1948.
In presenting an inaugural speaker with such experience, the Council hopes to interest a variety of people, McGillycuddy explained.
The colloquium will be open to the public, so members of the greater Boston area who are interested can also attend, she said.
“I would love to hear her perspective of advice she would give women today. A lot has changed since she took on that role as Secretary of State, and a lot hasn’t,” McGillycuddy said.
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