United States Secretary of State Elizabeth Adams McCord, Ph.D., is a fictional character and the protagonist of the CBS TV series Madam Secretary. She is portrayed by Téa Leoni.
Born in Virginia, Elizabeth attended Houghton Hall Boarding School, where she was co-captain of the debate team alongside Bahrainian Crown Prince Yousif Obaid (Aasif Mandvi). She attended the University of Virginia, and one of her professors was future Chief Justice of the United States Frawley (Morgan Freeman).
In 1990, Elizabeth married a man named Henry McCord (Tim Daly). They have two daughters, Stephanie "Stevie" (Wallis Currie-Wood) and Alison (Kathrine Herzer), and a son, Jason (Evan Roe). She also has a brother, Dr. Will Adams (Eric Stoltz), who is married to Sophie Adams, and with whom he has a 5-year-old daughter, Annie; both of her parents are deceased. She speaks fluent French, German, Arabic, Farsi and “a year of high school Spanish”.
Elizabeth worked for the CIA as an analyst for 20 years until she resigned from her position due to an ethical dilemma, just as she was being considered for promotion to Station Chief, Baghdad. She then taught at University of Virginia as a Political Science Professor. After the death of Vincent Marsh (Brian Stokes Mitchell) in a plane crash, President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine) (her former mentor at the CIA) asked her to be the US Secretary of State. Not a natural politician, Elizabeth frequently clashes with the White House Chief of Staff Russell Jackson (Željko Ivanek).
As the Secretary of State, her first year in office was spent investigating her predecessor’s death.
In “Tamerlane”, Elizabeth is in the home of Iranian Foreign Minister Zahed Javani (Usman Ally) when a coup d’état orchestrated by Secretary Marsh, CIA Director Andrew Munsey, and CIA analyst Juliet Humphrey, is attempted; during the attack, both Minister Javani and her personal bodyguard, DS Agent Fred Cole, were killed. In the aftermath, Elizabeth was left with some post-traumatic stress and has been seeing Russell Jackson’s personal therapist.
In “The Show Must Go On”, during a communications blackout on Air Force One with both the President and the Speaker of the House on board, and with the Vice President in surgery and President pro tempore of the Senate found to be incompetent after a series of mini-strokes earlier in the year, Elizabeth is sworn in as Acting President for a number of hours.
In “You Say You Want a Revolution”, Elizabeth and her Cuban counterpart are instrumental in the restoration of Cuba–United States relations, including the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Havana and the repeal of the embargo against Cuba. This has been viewed as a significant milestone in the Dalton presidency.
With the exception of her personal assistant, Blake Moran (Erich Bergen), Elizabeth inherited her entire senior staff from her predecessor, Vincent Marsh.
Her personal staff consists of:
- Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth) – Chief of Staff
- Daisy Grant (Patina Miller) – Press secretary
- Matt Mahoney (Geoffrey Arend) – Speechwriter
- Jay Whitman (Sebastian Arcelus) – Policy advisor
- Blake Moran (Erich Bergen) – Personal assistant
In “Blame Canada”, she fired Allen Bollings (John Finn), the chief negotiator responsible for peace talks with Iran for threatening military action rather than the trade ban relaxations she authorized, and then lying to herself and the President about it.