Global Icon Will Speak to Local Leaders to Raise Money For Student Scholarships

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Former U.S. Sec. of State will likely speak about education, world issues

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will speak to a full-capacity crowd at Cleveland’s Renaissance Hotel, Oct. 2, and will raise an anticipated $1 million for student scholarships at Tri-C. Portrait by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

“Madeleine Albright speaks with humor, insight, and eloquence about her life and career.” – The Washington Speakers Bureau.

By Bronson Peshlakai

People called her “Madame Secretary,” the first woman to be a U.S. Secretary of State, and she will offer insight and wisdom at this year’s Presidential Scholarship Luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel downtown Cleveland, Tuesday, Oct. 2., at 11:30 a.m.

“Madeleine Albright speaks with humor, insight, and eloquence about her life and career,” according to the Washington Speakers Bureau. “She provides audiences with a unique, no-holds-barred account of service at the highest levels of the American government.”

Albright will speak to a packed house full of area business and civic leaders, philanthropists, and students. The pay-per-plate, or -table, fundraiser is expected to raise more than $1 million to fund the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation’s coffers that help students pay to attend Tri-C.

“We thought Madeleine Albright would be interesting to be the next speaker, to move on from where Tony Blair left off,” said Gloria Moosmann, vice president for development and the Tri-C Foundation. “He gave us a wonderful perspective (last year) on education, and where we are going. We thought we should pose this topic to Madeleine Albright.”

Tony Blair was the Luncheon speaker in 2011. He spoke eloquently about how education needs to be the centerpiece for social policy, and that it needs to be available to all levels of a community, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Blair said Americans need to phase out thinking on the spectrum of left- or right-wing politics, and to start thinking either with an open-mind or closed-mind thought process.
“We need to adapt to a new world,” Blair said. “You have to be open-minded about global change or be closed and hunker down and be afraid,” he said last year.

A little history on this year’s speaker. Albright was born May 15, 1937, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and grew up “in the business” she soon would aspire to that would eventually make her the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government. Her father was a member of the Czechoslovakian diplomatic service, someone who dealt with international affairs.

In 1948, Albright moved to New York with her family, while her father worked for the United Nations in India. She was 11 years old when she and her family were given political asylum by the United States after Communists, who overthrew the Czechoslovakian government, killed her father.

Albright attended Wellesley and Columbia University. She served as policy adviser to several presidential nominees in the 1980s, and in 1992, was the senior foreign policy adviser to presidential nominee Bill Clinton during his campaign. When he became president, he selected Albright to be U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

History was made twice on Jan. 23, 1997. After being nominated by President Clinton, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Albright was sworn in as the first female U.S. Secretary of State and became the highest-ranking woman in the federal government.

On Tuesday, Albright will join a league of world leaders, national television journalists, entertainers, and others, who have spoken on behalf of many Tri-C students’ needs to make ends meet with college costs.

Moosmann said booking some speakers for the presidential luncheon is a lengthy process, and sometimes, it takes persistence, and a nudge from a previous speaker to get them to Cleveland for this fundraising effort.

“Colin Powell turned us down several times,” Moosmann said. “He accepted after Tom Brokaw spoke here. Gen. Powell got up in front of the audience and said, ‘Somebody (Brokaw) said to me that I should come here and get it over with because they will start stalking me.’”

Albright will become the third U.S. Secretary of State to address the Luncheon’s audience. In 2010, it was Condoleezza Rice, and in 2007, it was Colin Powell.

The Presidential Scholarship Luncheon was created in 1992 to help students afford school at Tri-C and commenced right after current President Jerry Sue Thornton was inaugurated as the college’s third president.

Since the Luncheon started, more than $8.6 million has been raised for student scholarships, and capacity crowds have reached more than 1,200 community members in recent Luncheons, according to the Foundation’s website.

While some students were selected by their Student Life office to attend the event, there are no more tickets available. Students interested in applying for a Foundation scholarship can fill out the online application at

Former speakers at the Presidential Scholarship Luncheon

2011 Tony Blair – Former Prime Minister Great Britain
2010 Condoleezza Rice – Former U.S. Secretary of State
2009 George Stephanopoulos – ABC News
2008 Bob Costas – NBC Sports
2007 Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) – Former U.S. Secretary of State
2006 Tom Brokaw – NBC News
2005 Tim Russert – NBC News
2004 Edward Norton – Movie Actor
2003 Peter B. Lewis – Founder of Progressive
2002 Oprah Winfrey – Talk show host
2001 Sam Donaldson – ABC News
2000 Ed Bradley – CBS News 60 Minutes Correspondent
1999 U.S. Sen. John Glenn – First man to orbit Earth
1998 Cokie Roberts – ABC News
1997 Hank Aaron – MLB Player
1996 Harry Belafonte – Music Artist
1995 Maya Angelou – Poet
1994 Mark McCormack – In charge of ING at the time.
1992 Robert Lewis

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