The Albright Institute for Global Affairs has an active presence on campus; its fellowship has been providing students interested in global affairs training and support for 15 years, guiding them into careers full of global knowledge and unique outlooks on life. As President Paula Johnson said in last year’s Albright Institute luncheon, “[the Institute’s] mission is very simple: to educate women in international affairs.” That spirit of innovation, education and leadership was celebrated in the 15th anniversary celebration of the Institute this January.
The Albright Institute was officially founded in 2010, and ever since, they have been providing their annual chosen fellows with an opportunity to learn about being international leaders. From the Wintersession intensive, where they work across disciplines and in lectures on global issues, to internships where they can bring their newfound knowledge to real-world situations, the Albright Institute has always emphasized learning from others and then growing as individuals. Fellows also work with the Mary Jane Durnford ’59 Distinguished Visiting Professor, a position held by former Danish Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj this year.
Ellen Margrethe Løj was born Oct. 17, 1948 in Gedesby, Denmark. After achieving a master’s degree in economics from Copenhagen University, she began working in the Danish Foreign Ministry, obtaining diplomatic skills that she brought with her throughout her career. Then, she became First Secretary of the Danish Permanent Mission to the UN in New York City, followed by serving as Counsellor within the European Commission in Brussels, then Head of Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But Løj found her calling in 1989 when she became an ambassador to Israel, which paved the way for her to become the Ambassador to the United Nations. From there, she became the United Nations Secretary-General as Special Representative for Liberia, using her diplomatic skills and international experience to focus on development and humanitarian issues. She has praised the benefits of a well-rounded, social sciences education; she said in an interview with the University of Copenhagen that “a social science education provides a solid foundation that can be used in an international context.”
Not only do fellows get the opportunity to work closely with an experienced global leader such as Løj, they also get the opportunity to hear from former fellows that are making waves all over the world. The Institute chose to bring back the 2016 MaddyTalks, featuring Wellesley and Albright alumni that tell the Wellesley community what they have learned and achieved after their experiences with the Institute. Fellows from the 2016 event gave talks on topics such as “Women Leading Peace,” “The Power of Relationships in Healthcare” and “Lessons on Solving Global Challenges, From the Large Hadron Collider to the West Wing.” They spoke about how the Institute has changed them and their perspective on the international stage, and they were grateful for the foundation the Albright Institute gave them.
Alexandra Day, Class of ’15, remarked during their MaddyTalks presentation, “It’s not enough to tell ourselves to think outside of the box. We need to realize there shouldn’t be a box in the first place.”
This year, the Albright Institute for Global Affairs celebrates its 15th anniversary. An interview with Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj, as well as the revival of MaddyTalks, will soon be available to the public online, and the Institute encourages all students to watch and learn from some of Wellesley’s best. More importantly, they hope viewers will become inspired, and continue to contribute their ideas into the Wellesley community, which in turn introduces them into the global community.
Rebecca Turkington, Class of ’12, summarized her thoughts on the Institute, “We are all part of strong networks of women: The Wellesley Network, the Albright Institute Network that we’re here to celebrate today. And when the opportunity comes to make a difference, these relationships will be our most powerful assets.”