Honoring Alumna Madeleine Albright '55

Kent Denver '55 alumna Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, passed away March 23 at the age of 84. Below is a statement from Head of School Dr. Rand Harrington.

The Kent Denver community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Madeleine Korbel Albright, a 1955 alumna of our school and the inaugural recipient of the Kent Denver Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.

She was a leader, a champion for democracy and a beloved member of our community.

As a student at the Kent School for Girls, the all-girls’ predecessor of today’s Kent Denver School, Madeleine Korbel founded the International Relations Club and served as its first president. When interviewed by Kent Denver students in 1997, she recalled, “I loved Kent, but I never dreamed that I could be Secretary of State. Kent was a girls’ school. We never thought that we could be in a position to make decisions for our country. My dream was to do well, speak English well, get good grades, and start more international relations clubs.”

Her trailblazing career as the first female Secretary of State—as well as an ambassador to the UN, professor and author—took her far beyond these early aspirations, yet Secretary Albright remained a steadfast supporter of KDS.

In the nearly seven decades since her own high school graduation, Secretary Albright regularly and generously shared her time and wisdom with Kent Denver students. She visited campus in 2005 when she received the Distinguished Alumni Award—meeting with several student groups and sitting down for an interview with then Head of School Todd Horn.

Most recently, she addressed our Class of 2020 as part of their virtual Commencement celebration in the early days of the COVID pandemic. Secretary Albright spoke with our graduating seniors about her memories of being a teenager in Colorado and her later experiences as a woman in government and a leader in the global community.

When asked by 2020 class president Mika Fisher for advice in navigating the future, Secretary Albright replied, “Be active participants in whatever path you choose. The opportunities are there for people who are curious and who want to make a difference.”

Secretary Albright embodied the mission of our school to demonstrate “Excellence in scholarship and character” and will be a deeply missed member of our community, but her legacy will live on in the next generation of Kent Denver students.

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