The Secretary of State
Madeleine Korbelová Albright, the first woman to serve as the United States Secretary of State and, hence, asthe highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government, was born in Prague in the inter-World War period. Her father, Josef Korbel, was a diplomat and loyal supporter of the democratic regimes of the first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and his successor President Edvard Beneš. After the communist takeover in 1948, Korbel moved his family to New York and obtained a teaching position at the University of Colorado, where he would later mentor another future U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Following the end of Albright’s term as Secretary, her good friend, Czech President Vaclav Havel speculated about the possibility of Albright succeeding him after he retired, which she declined. In May 2012, Madeleine Albright was honored by US President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.