Fellows for the Future

Fellows for the Future

Photo by Richard Howard

Joanne Murray ’81 and Joe Joyce get a little choked up when they talk about the Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 Institute for Global Affairs and its network of alumnae around the world.

In 2010, the two of them—as founding director and faculty director respectively—launched the Wintersession program with 40 students representing many different majors and countries. The teachers for the innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum were the former secretary of state herself, Wellesley faculty, and alumnae practitioners and experts in the field of international relations and public policy. Students were organized into interdisciplinary teams to investigate topics such as the UN’s millennial development goals, and then followed their January experiences with summer internships in global affairs. The vision was large: to prepare women for global leadership and to initiate meaningful change in the world.

Since the get-go, the program has been wildly successful: The 40 Albright Fellow slots available each January are some of the most competitive and coveted opportunities open to students. Albright has returned each year to teach and give talks to the College community, and lecturers in the program have included heads of NGOs, ambassadors, businesspeople, admirals, and many more.

This February, seven years in, Murray and Joyce called all the fellows— alumnae and current students—back together for a reunion and symposium. They also invited some heavy hitters to speak on the weekend’s theme: global inequity. In addition to Albright, these included Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and COO of the World Bank; Mark Malloch-Brown, former deputy secretary general of the UN (all above, center); and others.

But it was the fellows themselves who made Murray and Joyce teary. They came back in droves, from as far as China and India; 72 percent of the seven cohorts, an extraordinary number. A group of them gave polished and professional “Maddy Talks,” modeled after TED Talks, about their post-graduate lives.

Joyce was thrilled at the strong bonds the fellows have. “The experience of being an Albright fellow did not end the day they graduated from Wellesley,” he says. “They really do come away with a larger vision of what they can accomplish, both individually and collectively.”

Murray says that seeing more than 200 fellows happily engaging with each other filled her with hope. “It was enormously gratifying to see what these individual women are able to do, are choosing to do—the amount of courage and talent that they have, and their sense of joy and connection that they had to each other,” she says. “These women are really doing good work in the world.”

Going forward, the institute will be formalizing career- and field-based mentoring for the fellows. “Our next step,” Murray says, “is to enlarge their paths forward in the world. It’s not enough for them to have a network that advances each other’s careers, [although that is] true. … How can this group, this cohort of women, create a more stable, peaceful society? Part of that is through advancing and promoting their leadership, and part of that is through always extending your hand to open more opportunity for other women.”

Albright, who calls her work with the institute “engrossing and rewarding,” also sees a big future for the fellows. “I am thrilled by what [the Institute] has become, and even more excited about what it will accomplish in the future,” she told the assembled fellows. “Because I have every expectation that one day, a future president or secretary of state will proudly recall her time as an Albright Fellow.”

The fellows laughed, duly noted the secretary’s prediction, and no doubt took it to heart.

After Albright

Seven returning Albright Fellows—plus inaugural presenter President Emerita Diana Chapman Walsh ’66 and host Aisling Grogan ’12—took part in the reunion’s “Maddy Talks: Global Ideas with Impact,” which showcased some of the important work in which Albright Fellows have engaged since graduating from Wellesley. Below are summaries of two of their talks.

Rebecca Turkington ’12

2011 Albright Fellow
Majors: International relations and history
Maddy Talk: Women Leading Peace

Women comprise barely 10 percent of peace negotiators, and only 4 percent of signatories to all peace agreements have been women. How do the women who make it to the table get there? Turkington—a program associate at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security who is also pursuing her master’s at Georgetown—was part of a team that tried to find out by interviewing over 100 women in Kenya, the Philippines, Guatemala, and Northern Ireland. The key to giving women a pathway to peace talks, Turkington and her colleagues discovered, was strong networks of other women. “If we want to build stronger, more durable peace across the globe, we must recognize the power of women’s networks. Our research showed in case after case that women succeed in impacting peace processes when they reached out to their civil society networks,” Turkington said. “Their voices made a difference, and they should serve as models for women who are trying to solve conflicts today.”

Christine Keung ’14

2013 Albright Fellow
Major: Economics
Maddy Talk: Lessons Learned from a Fulbright Year in Rural Northwestern China

Keung spent a year in rural Xi’an, China, on a Fulbright fellowship, researching ways to address severe water shortages caused by water contimination and overuse. She traveled to more than 60 villages and saw firsthand the haphazard dumping of used medical supplies and agricultural chemical waste. Keung realized that the key to reducing the amount of waste in the watershed is with women, who increasingly are the heads of household as men leave the countryside to become migrant laborers. With research partners in Xi’an, Keung designed a women-led community program that teaches safe methods of recycling hazardous wastes, and pairs women with village doctors and distributors of agricultural goods to implement a waste tracking system. Pointing at a photograph of herself with some of the villagers, Keung said, “These women, they’re not the faces of poverty. They’re the key to overcoming it. And my narrative is now interwoven with the lives of rural women, and in sharing my story, I aim to make opportunities to share theirs.”

You can watch the Maddy Talks online by clicking here.

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