Newswise — WELLESLEY, Mass. (January 9, 2019) — This January, Wellesley College’s Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs is hosting some of the world’s most influential thinkers—including Samantha Power, Cass Sunstein, Judy Woodruff, John Podesta, Bill Reilly, and Madeleine Albright herself—at its 10th annual three-week Wintersession program, part of the Institute’s broader efforts to educate the next generation of women leaders.

The Albright Institute allows Wellesley students to use their liberal arts education to solve problems in the international arena. This year’s theme focuses on the ways the ascension of authoritarianism and the disruption of new technologies are challenging democracies around the world. The 52 featured speakers and panelists will address this issue from national, international, historical, economic, and cultural angles.

2019 Wintersession Event Highlights:

The events below are closed to the public but will be live-streamed via To request media credentials, please email [email protected].


  • Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, joined Wellesley College Provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56 Dean of the College Andrew Shennan.
  • Wednesday, January 16, 1:30–2:30 p.m.: Climate Disorder: Lessons from the Past for the Current World Order
  • John Podesta, chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and founder of the Center for American Progress, will join Bill Reilly, Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President George H.W. Bush.
  • Tuesday, January 22, 10:30–11:10 a.m.: A Conversation with Samantha Power
  • Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power will join Takis Metaxas, Wellesley College professor of computer science and faculty director of the Albright Institute.
  • Wednesday, January 23, 7–8:15 p.m.: Challenges to Democracy: A Dinner Dialogue
    • Featuring former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, and Harvard University Professor Cass Sunstein. Moderated by Stacie Goddard, Wellesley College professor of political science.


“Democracy has faced challenges from authoritarian leaders and technology in the past, but this stands out as an unusually perilous moment, and the challenges we confront today carry the risk of long-lasting, fundamental change,” said Takis Metaxas, professor of computer science at Wellesley and faculty director of the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute. “By engaging with these big issues, the Albright Fellows will undertake their internships around the world this summer with a greater sense of urgency.”

“The Albright Institute is preparing its students to meet tomorrow’s challenges head-on, and the world has never needed them more,” said Wellesley College President Paula A. Johnson. “The Institute is educating the next generation of global leaders with its interdisciplinary, experiential approach to learning and its expert faculty, talented students, and the powerful and influential women leaders it brings to Wellesley’s campus, including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Wellesley class of 1959.”

This year’s cohort of 40 Albright Fellows is made up of Wellesley students representing 15 countries and 23 majors. Secretary Albright, who founded the Institute, is very involved in shaping the content for the annual Wintersession.

About the Albright Institute: The Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College supports the College’s mission of educating students for leadership in an increasingly complex and interconnected global environment. The program combines the intellectual resources of faculty from Wellesley College, researchers from the Wellesley Centers for Women, and leading alumnae and other practitioners and policy makers in the fields of international relations and public policy.

About the featured speakers:

Madeleine K. AlbrightMadeleine Albright, Wellesley class of 1959, is an American politician and diplomat and was the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. Albright holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and numerous honorary degrees. In May 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Secretary Albright is currently a professor of International Relations at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and chair of the National Democratic Institute.

John Podesta

John Podesta is the founder and a board member of the Center for American Progress. He is the former chairman of Hillary for America, was a counselor to President Barack Obama, and served as chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. Podesta is the author of The Power of Progress: How America’s Progressives Can (Once Again) Save Our Economy, Our Climate and Our Country and is a distinguished visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Samantha Power

Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and professor of practice at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017, Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and was a member of President Obama’s cabinet. Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Her book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is currently completing a memoir, The Education of an Idealist, which will be published by Harper Collins in September 2019. She has twice been named to Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list.

William Reilly

Bill Reilly has enjoyed careers in public service, non-governmental organizations, and private sector finance. He was the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1989 to 1993; during his tenure there he led efforts to pass a new Clean Air Act. He has served as president of the World Wildlife Fund and chairman of its board; president of the Conservation Foundation; director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth; and chair of the board of the Global Water Challenge and Climate Works Foundation. Reilly currently serves on the executive committee of the U.S. Water Partnership, the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Sunstein has testified before Congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations.

Judy Woodruff

Broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff is the anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour. She has covered politics and other news for more than four decades at NBC, CNN, and PBS. Woodruff is a graduate of Duke University, where she is a trustee emerita. She is the recent recipient of the Radcliffe Medal, the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University.

About Wellesley College: Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 83 countries.


Press Contact: Casey Bayer, Wellesley College, 781.283.3321, [email protected]

Chief Communications Officer: Elizabeth Gildersleeve, Wellesley College, [email protected]