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Women On Wednesday: Madam Secretary

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Women On Wednesday: Madam Secretary
“The world is a mess,” former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright said Monday. The comment was delivered in her typically frank, funny-because-it's-true tone. A naturalized citizen from Prague, Albright believes the US is an exceptional country, but it can't expect exceptions to be made for it in governance and the rule of law.
former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Photos: Lucas Flores Piran
We stopped by the St. Regis to hear the original Madam Secretary speak at Hogan Lovells' Global Women's Executive Summit. Her firstfull-time job didn't come until she was 39: legal assistant for Sen.Edmund Muskie. When she became ambassador to the UN Security Council 18 years later, she thought she'd let the 14 men in the room do the talking while she got used to things—but then realized that if she didn't speak, the US's voice wouldn't be heard. And so she has spent the rest of her life talking, once explaining the three monkeys (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) brooch she was wearing toVladimir Putin, telling him: “It's because of your policy in Chechnya.” In that case, he didn't like hearing what she had to say.

former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Madeleine with Hogan Lovells DC partner Ann Morgan Vickery. So what does she have to say nowadays? Americans don't like the word“multiculturalism” because it has too many syllables and ends in “ism,” but nuclear, dealing with terror without creating more terrorists, the gap between rich and poor, the environment, and thefinancial crisis are all problems that the country can't deal with on its own. Pakistan is the “international migraine” that worries her most.WikiLeaks was terrible, she says, endangering the ability of American ambassadors, who are supposed to be the President's eyes and ears, to be forthright in their private communication. The proliferation of information via the tech and social media revolutionis valuable, she says, but people need to be able to sift through the flood. Oh, and “sprightly,” as she often is called, is one of the “really great insults.”