Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State
John McLaughlin, Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies
October 3, 2016
Many students at Johns Hopkins SAIS will fret about their transition from the academic world to the policy world. In this regard they have good company in Madeleine Albright.
From her days as a Johns Hopkins SAIS student in 1963, Secretary Albright returned to campus to share advice about building a career in public service, part of John McLaughlin's Defense Against the Dark Arts series. Albright made a strong case for the versatility of studying international relations: her original plan was a career in journalism, but learning Russian made her realize she wanted to change course and go to graduate school. Her dissertation became an influential study of the Soviet diplomatic corps, which opened many doors in an illustrious career culminating in her appointment by President Clinton as secretary of state.
Albright explained her approach to making foreign policy less foreign, including her famously outspoken fashion accessories which became the subject of her bestselling book, Read My Pins. The audience was delighted to hear the backstories behind some of her more (and pointedly less) diplomatic moments involving these pin choices. McLaughlin asked how today's pin was selected and naturally, a "devil" was the perfect fit for a "dark arts" discussion.
Albright also shared her strategies for balancing family and career, discussed America's changing role in world affairs, and her take on an unusual presidential campaign season. In conclusion, McLaughlin presented her with Hedwig, Harry Potter's owl sidekick, in recognition for her inspiring career amidst the bureaucratic and political challenges of the Washington world.