Women in Diplomacy: A Conversation with Former Female Foreign Ministers

Join this moderated panel discussion featuring four formidable female leaders.

The panelists have all broken new ground in the path to gender equality. María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila was the first female Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador as well as the country’s first president of a private bank and of an insurance company. Susana Malcorra is a founding member of the Argentine Chapter of the International Women’s Forum and GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion, which advocates for women’s engagement in multilateral decision making. Margot Wallström was the first person to hold the position of United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Madeleine Albright, the Albright Institute’s namesake, was the first female Secretary of State of the United States. 

President of Wellesley College Paula Johnson, who has herself been at the forefront of research to advance gender equality, will lead this panel in which the distinguished speakers will share their perspectives on female leadership, the path to gender equality, and promoting the next generation of women leaders.


  • Madeleine Korbel Albright, Secretary of State, United States of America (1997-2001)
    Madeleine K. Albright is a professor, author, diplomat and businesswoman. In 1997, she 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. 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. She is a Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Dr. Albright is Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group and of Albright Capital Management LLC. She also chairs the National Democratic Institute, serves as the president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. In 2012, she was chosen by President Obama to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in recognition of her contributions to international peace and democracy.
  • Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila, Minister of Foreign Affairs, El Salvador (1999-2003)
    María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila is a Salvadoran lawyer who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for El Salvador from 1999 to 2003. She is also the first woman to become president of a private bank and an insurance company in El Salvador, as well as the first woman to sit on the Board of the Central American Institute of Business Administration (INCAE). For a decade after 2007, she was Head of the pioneering Corporate Sustainability function at HSBC Latin America. She currently heads Inversiones Vision, her executive coaching and consulting firm.
  • Susana Malcorra, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Republic of Argentina (2015-2017)
    Susana Malcorra is the Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs and was previously Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship for the Republic of Argentina back in 2015. After her resignation in July 2017, she served as Minister Advisor to the President until December 2017. As such, she presided over the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires. Ms. Malcorra began her corporate career as a systems engineer at IBM, eventually becoming the CEO of Telecom Argentina. She left Telecom in 2002, and in 2004 joined the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) where she became the chief operating officer. In May 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed her Under-Secretary General of the recently created Department of Field Support.
  • Margot Wallström, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden (2014-2019)
    From 2014-2019, Margot Wallström was Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Löfven Government, spearheading the country’s feminist foreign policy. She was also Sweden’s Minister for Nordic Cooperation from 2016-2019. Ms. Margot Wallström began her political career in 1979 when she was elected to the Swedish parliament. In 2007, Ms Wallström became Chair of the Ministerial Initiative of the Council for Women World Leaders. In 2010, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon appointed her the first Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
  • Paula Johnson, President, Wellesley College
    Paula A. Johnson is the 14th president of Wellesley College. She is an innovator recognized globally for advancing, promoting, and defending the education, health, and well-being of women. This critically important work is deeply informed by her broad range of experience as a pathbreaking physician-scientist and educator who is an expert in health care, public health, and health policy.