Madeleine Albright, the first woman to hold the office of the U.S. Secretary of State, was born as Marie Jana Korbelová to the family of Czechoslovak diplomat Josef Korbel. During her childhood, she and her family went into exile twice, the first time fleeing from Hitler to London, the second time and for good escaping the communist totalitarianism to the United States. There she graduated and began an impressive academic and political career that culminated in the post of U.S. Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton administration 1997-2001. Before that, she held the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Her diplomatic activity helped the Czech Republic become a member of NATO in 1999. Madeleine Albright received a number of high awards, including the Czech Order of the White Lion and the American Presidential Medal of Freedom. After retiring from the government, she worked as a consultant, university professor and author of books.