Kamala Harris
California Sen. Kamala Harris delivered the keynote address at this year’s Madeleine Albright Luncheon.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — California Sen. Kamala Harris, the first Indian American woman ever elected to Congress’s upper chamber, was selected to deliver the keynote address at this year’s Madeleine Albright Luncheon, held annually in the nation’s capital to inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Nearly 250 attendees packed a venue at Washington D.C.’s Ritz Carlton Hotel for the event, meant to promote the political empowerment of women worldwide. It was hosted by the National Democratic Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 1983 “to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.”

Sen. Harris, during her address, credited her Indian grandmother, Rajam Gopalan, and mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, for serving as the finest role models and inspirations in her quest to lead America’s populous.

“I come from a long line of tough, trailblazing, phenomenal women,” she said. “My grandmother would go into villages in India with a bullhorn, telling poor women how to access birth control. My mother came to the U.S. at the age of nineteen to study endocrinology at the University of California, Berkeley, and eventually became a leading breast cancer researcher.  There’s no way I could have begun my political journey without strong role models like them to inspire me.”

Harris began her crusade of raising the bar higher when she became the first woman to be elected District Attorney of San Francisco. She recalled how the naysayers told her it was something that could not be achieved.

“It’s not your turn. It’s not the right time,” she said people told her, adding, “it’s going to be really hard.”

Her advice?

“Do not listen,” she said. “I did not listen.”

Harris ultimately served two terms as San Francisco’s top cop before running for the same position of the state of California. She, again, became the first woman elected to the position of the country’s most populated state.

Now, she serves proudly in the United States Senate.

“From this platform – and every step along the way – I have tried to live another lesson my mother taught me: ‘You may be the first, but make sure you aren’t the last,’” she said.

Albright, who was in attendance of the event that bears her name, served as the first female Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. She is now a distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and chairs the NDI.

A vocal critic of President Trump, Albright noted, “the cause of supporting democracy has never been more important. Here in the U.S. and around the world, the principles of NDI are being tested,” she said, referring to the rise of nationalism, and an erosion of confidence in national and global institutions.  “Almost everywhere, new technologies are making it easier for the public to express anger, but not for governments to solve problems,” she said.