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Madeleine Albright Interview

In Conversation with David Rubenstein

16th Annual Dolley Madison Legacy Event

On May 7, 2021, Montpelier’s Dolley Madison Legacy Event was honored to feature Madeleine Albright, who served as the first female Secretary of State and currently serves as Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Albright was joined in conversation by David Rubenstein, one of the most patriotic philanthropists in America, having made transformative gifts for the restoration and preservation of historical sites, including James Madison’s Montpelier. 

The conversation, titled “Evolving Women: Leadership in Our Nation,” was an entertaining, informative exchange between Dr. Albright and Mr. Rubenstein, whose 40+-year relationship began when they were both young staffers in the Carter White House. Growing up in the Czechoslovakian Republic, Dr. Albright’s father was the Czeck ambassador to Yugoslavia during her childhood, and her path to diplomacy began as a child dressed in the national costume, handing out flowers at the airport. 

Dr. Albright traces her history growing up in a family where foreign policy was a constant source of conversation, but she never dreamed she would hold the positions of power that she did. Educated in the United States, she studied political science, foreign policy, diplomatic history, and economics. As a young parent of twins and working on her dissertation, she also worked for Sen. Ed Muskie as his chief legislative assistant, before taking a position under Zbigniew Brzezinski on the National Security Council. She served in that position until 1981, when President Jimmy Carter left office. She served in the Clinton White House as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, where she discovered that as only one of seven women in a room of 183 men, she had to learn to interrupt, speak firmly, and know what she had to say.  She succeeded Warren Christopher as Secretary of State, serving in that capacity until Clinton left office in 2001. Dr. Albright’s journey is filled with tales of holding her own as the only woman in rooms filled with powerful men, overcoming sexism, and learning how men and women think differently and using her observations to her advantage.

Enjoy the full video of the interview.

Madeleine Albright in conversation with David Rubenstein and Q&A

About Madeleine Albright

Madeleine K. Albright is Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group and a professor, author, diplomat and businesswoman. In 1997, Dr. Albright was named the first female Secretary of State and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Obama on May 29, 2012.

From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Albright served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and was a member of the President’s Cabinet. From 1989 to 1992, she served as President of the Center for National Policy.

Dr. Albright is a Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; and is Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets.

Dr. Albright is a seven-time New York Times bestselling author. Her most recent book is Hell and Other Destinations (April 2020).

About David M. Rubenstein

David M. Rubenstein is a Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest and most successful private investment firms. Mr. Rubenstein is active in many organizations, including: Chairman of the Boards of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Council on Foreign Relations; a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution; and a Trustee of the National Gallery of Art and the National Constitution Center.

Mr. Rubenstein is an original signer of The Giving Pledge, a significant donor to all of the above-mentioned non-profit organizations and many others, and a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, and the MoMA’s David Rockefeller Award. He has been a leader in the area of Patriotic Philanthropy, having made transformative gifts for the restoration or repair of numerous sites of national significance. 

Mr. Rubenstein is the host of The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations on Bloomberg TV and PBS, and Leadership Live with David Rubenstein by Bloomberg Media. His most recent book is How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers (Simon & Schuster, September 2020).

The Dolley Madison Legacy Luncheon Over the Years

For the past 16 years, the Dolley Madison Legacy Event has been the premier fundraiser for James Madison’s Montpelier. Proceeds from this year’s event will support The Montpelier Foundation’s mission as the center for constitutional education and preservation of the legacy of Dolley and James Madison.

To learn more about the history of the Dolley Madison Legacy Luncheon, as well as its speakers and topics, read our story here.

Host Committee:

Trish Crowe, Co-Chair
Pam Edmonds, Co-Chair

Gail Babnew, Signe Bowling, Suzanne Bresee, Bridget Bryant, Betsy Chesler, Sharon Donovan, Katherine Douglas, Shelby Fischer, Florence Fowlkes, Catherine Gillespie, Darby Gingery, Mariel Goss, Alice Handy, Molly Hardie, Ada Harvey, Mary Howard, Peyton Lewis, Carolyn Quinn, Norma Sanford, Mary Lou Seilheimer, Mary Jane Shackelford, Mary Lew Sponski, D. Page Sullenberger, Alexandra Thomas, Jasmine Warren

Event Sponsors:

Museum Patrons

Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney, Mr. and Mrs. Franklin S. Edmonds, Jr., Molly and Robert Hardie (H7 Foundation), Nina Lesavoy, Anonymous (2)

Curator Patrons

Mr. and Mrs. Frank B. Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Brewster, Mrs. Joe Grills, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony and Lara Ignaczak, Ms. Alice Handy and Mr. Peter Stoudt, John F. Macon, II, Stephanie and Rob Meeks, Cora Simpson, Martha A. Zaritsky

Collection Patrons

Berenice D. Craigie, Peggy Rhoads

Research Patrons

Drs. J. Temple and Mary Lynn Bayliss, Leslie and Larry Bouterie, Wendy B. Brown, David and Betsy Chesler, Trish and David Crowe, Ms. Sharon Donovan, Michael and Barbara Eisenson, Julie Finley, Mrs. Florence Bryan Fowlkes, Catherine Gillespie, Darby Gingery, Mariel Goss, Mr. and Mrs. A. Dandridge Gregg (Grelen Nursery), Ada S. Harvey, Mrs. John T. Hazel, Jr., Ruth Hill, Mary Howard, Ivy Nursery, Peyton Lewis, Elizabeth V. Lodal, Kelley MacDougall, Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. McDaniel, Peter McHugh and Louise McNamee, Mary Bryan Perkins, Nicole H. Perry, Elizabeth Trapnell Rawlings, Cristina Rother, Normie Sanford, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Seilheimer, Jr., Ms. Pamela Russ and Ms. Nancy Stutsman, Zan Thomas, Elsie Wilson Thompson, Laurie Turner, Irene A. Waddill

Special Thanks To:

Barboursville Vineyards, John Berry Photography, Gregory Britt Design, Feast!, Lyle Sanford of The Music Room on Main.

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As the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Architect of the Bill of Rights, Montpelier's mission is to communicate Madison's role in creating our modern, democratic government.