Madeleine Albright, the 64th U.S. Secretary of State and the first woman to serve in that position, has died from cancer at 84, according to a statement from her family.
Albright served as Secretary of State from 1997-2001 under former President Bill Clinton, who had previously named her as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations after his inauguration in 1993. In 2012, former President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s top civilian honor.
Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1937, and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1948. She became a U.S. citizen in 1957 and graduated two years later from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 1975, she earned her doctoral degree from Columbia University with a thesis on the Prague Spring.
Afterwards, she worked as an aide to former Sen. Edmund Muskie, D-Maine, before taking a position on the National Security Council, a position she served until 1981.
At the time of her death, Albright was a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a business strategy firm.
“We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend,” her family said in their statement.