In honor of Women’s History Month, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition is honoring five women who have trailblazed their own path to influence U.S. foreign policy.
Madeleine Albright was the first woman to ever serve as Secretary of State, trailblazing a path for women in foreign policy. Albright was born in Czechoslovakia where her father was a member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Service and later served as Ambassador to Yugoslavia. After the communist coup, Albright’s family emigrated to Colorado where she became a U.S. citizen in 1957. After a distinguished academic and political career, Albright was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations by President Clinton in 1993 and served in the position until her appointment as Secretary of State in 1996. As Secretary of State, Albright promoted diplomacy and democracy in the expansion of NATO eastward into the former Soviet bloc nations and in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics to rogue nations.
Condeleezza Rice began her career in academia where her specialty was eastern and central Europe and the Soviet Union, including military and security affairs. She joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1981 and in 1993 began a six-year tenure as Provost, markedly improving the financials of the University. In 1999, Rice left the University to join George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and upon his election was named head of the National Security Council. Rice was the first woman to ever hold this position. Rice made history again in 2005 when she succeeded Colin Powell as Secretary of State as the first Black woman to hold that position. After leaving office in 2009, Rice returned to academia and eventually became the head of the Hoover Institution.
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón was born in the Dominican Republic and emigrated to the United States in 1982, where she grew up in New York City. Pantaleón developed a career at an international law firm, earning a respected reputation in foreign policy by publishing in English and Spanish on issues relating to comparative law, regulatory reform, community organizing, immigration policy, and Latin American politics. Pantaleón served as Chief of Staff to First Lady Jill Biden, and Co-Chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, an entity that seeks to address discrimination and sexual harassment, enhance economic opportunity for women, and reduce the wage gap, including in the federal government. Currently, Pantaleón serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra and uses her diplomatic skills to further American leadership abroad.
Dr. Mable Newcomer was a respected tax economist and educator at Vassar College. In addition to her academic success, Newcomer was the first woman Vice President of the American Economic Association and often served as an advisor to the U.S. Treasury. In 1944, Newcomer became the only American woman to serve in the delegation to the United Nation Conference at Bretton Woods and was often the only woman representative at the table. At the conference, Newcomer served on the committees that established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, later called the World Bank. Newcomer’s expertise can be credited to helping develop the global economic institutions of today.
Shalonda Spencer is the Executive Director of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), an organization dedicated to advancing the leadership and development of women of color in foreign affairs. WCAPS has chapters all around the globe. Spencer has used her voice to advocate for justice and equality throughout her academic and professional career. An expert in women’s rights, Spencer has been recognized for her contributions to advocacy and public service, and she continues to advocate for women of color around the world.