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Former Sec. of State Albright Celebrates Women's History Month with the CIA

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright addresses the CIA workforce at a Women's History Month celebration.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright addresses the CIA workforce at a Women's History Month celebration.
“A career in public service, especially as a representative of the American people, is all anyone can ever ask for,” stated former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the CIA’s Women’s History Month celebration on March 19. During the event, Albright shared lessons from her years in public service and thoughts about implementing recommendations to improve career progression for women at CIA. Dr. Albright played a leading role in helping the Agency craft a report on women in the Agency [PDF 78.7KB].

In introducing Secretary Albright, D/CIA John Brennan noted the crucial contributions of women to national security. “During my three decades in government—including 25 years here at CIA—I’ve seen firsthand the knowledge, leadership, courage, and dedication that women bring to the table in meeting the most difficult missions.”

He said the Agency has made much progress during those years in recognizing and promoting women to positions of authority, but that “as an organization, we can and must do better.”

D/CIA Brennan also announced that the report’s ten recommendations and much of its findings would be released to the public. “While most aspects of our intelligence mission need to remain classified, we should be open, honest, and proud of our efforts to ensure that all employees have the opportunity to reach their full professional potential,” he said.


5 Career Tips for Women

Albright began her professional career at age 39 after raising three children and obtaining her PhD. In 1997, she became the first female Secretary of State and the highest-ranking woman in the federal government. “I never imagined that I would one day become Secretary of State,” she said. “It’s not that I lacked ambition. It is just that I had never seen a Secretary of State in a skirt.”

Albright said career success stems from making the most of opportunities and offered five suggestions to Agency officers:

  • Speak up: “It is better to risk being thought rude than to give the impression you have nothing to say.”
  • Lead: “In any group, someone has to lead—and it might as well be you—and you have to be prepared to do so.”
  • Don’t be obsessed by the clock: “When it comes to generating results, experience and character count far more than a wrinkle-free face.”
  • Chart your own course: “No one can make that choice for you, and no path is inherently right or wrong … Act out of hope, not fear, and take responsibility for whatever you decide.”
  • Help one another: “None of us get to where we are on our own and none of us will get to where we want to go unless we move forward together.”

To read an unclassified complete transcript of the event, click here.


Albright Honored to Lead Review Effort

Secretary Albright said she was pleased to have been part of the Directors Advisory Group on Women in Leadership, which involved distilling the experiences of thousands of Agency officers. “I hope that the report will be received in the same spirit with which it is offered, and that its implementation will benefit both the Agency and its vital mission,” she said in the report’s foreword.

She also thanked the men and women of the Agency for their dedication, saying her many years as a consumer of intelligence gave her a deep understanding of CIA’s work.  “Collectively, you still know more about everything than most of us know about anything,” she said. “You make enormous contributions each day to the safety and security of our people.”

D/CIA Brennan closed the event by presenting Secretary Albright with a certificate of appreciation.


To learn more about the Directors Advisory Group on Women in Leadership and previous Women’s History Month events, check out these resources:

Director's Advisory Group on Women in Leadership Unclassified Report (March 2013) [PDF 178.7KB*]

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright Speaks at CIA in Honor of Women's History Month

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Posted: Mar 28, 2013 01:35 PM
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2013 01:27 PM