Madeleine Albright, First Female U.S. Secretary of State, Dies at 84

Trailblazer served as top diplomat for President Bill Clinton during his second term

Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright in 2009 (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, has died at age 84.

Albright’s family confirmed the news, posting a statement to her Twitter account.

“We are heartbroken to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, the 64th U.S. Secretary of State and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today,” the statement reads. “The cause was cancer.

“She was surrounded by family and friends. We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend,” the statement continued.

Albright, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, first served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before becoming the nation’s top diplomat in Clinton’s second term.

Born Marie Jane Korbelova, Albright came to the United States from Prague as a refugee in 1948. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2012 after a notable career in the world of American policy-making.

At the time of her death, Albright served as a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, part of Dentons Global Advisors, chair of Albright Capital Management, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, chair of the National Democratic Institute and chair of the U.S. Defense Policy Board.

She was also a lifetime trustee of The Aspen Institute as well as a member of the chapter of the Washington National Cathedral.

Albright founded the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College, and books she has written include “Fascism: A Warning” and “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948.”

Albright is survived by three daughters, Alice, Anne and Katie, whom she had with former husband Joseph Medill Patterson Albright. They divorced in 1983. Albright is also survived by a sister, Kathy Silva, a brother, John Korbel, and six grandchildren.

Albright was remembered as “a lovely, great, proud American who always understood the importance of democracy here and abroad,” as author and historian Michael Beschloss wrote on Twitter.

Many others took to Twitter to post their own tributes.