Madeleine Albright, the 64th U.S. secretary of state and the first woman to ever serve in the role, has died of cancer.
She died at age of 84.
Albright was a central figure in President Bill Clinton’s administration, first serving as US ambassador to the United Nations before becoming the nation’s top diplomat in his second term.
News of her death broke while Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesman, was holding a daily briefing for reporters.
“The impact that she has had on this building is felt every single day in just about every single corner,” adding, “she was a trailblazer.”
Albright rose in American politics before becoming the secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton in 1997. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement Wednesday calling Albright “an extraordinary human being.”
“Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served,”
“As a child in war-torn Europe, Madeleine and her family were twice forced to flee their home. When the end of the Cold War ushered in a new era of global interdependence, she became America’s voice at the U.N., then took the helm at the State Department, where she was a passionate force for freedom, democracy, and human rights.” Clinton said.
Albright was born Marie Jana Korbelova in Prague in 1937. Her parents were Jewish and fled the Nazi-occupied country just two years after her birth. They moved to Britain and converted to Catholicism. More than two dozen of Albright’s relatives, including three of her grandparents, were murdered in the Holocaust. Albright was unaware of her history — even that she had Jewish heritage — until it was uncovered by The Washington Post in 1997.