Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as the top US diplomat, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84, her family confirmed, listing the cause of death as cancer.
“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 cause was cancer,” said in a statement posted on Albright’s Twitter account by her relatives.
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The family called Albright a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights” and a refugee “who rose to the heights of American policy-making, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the nation’s highest civilian honor.”
At the time of her death, Albright was a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, head of the consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group, and chair of the National Democratic Institute and the US Defense Policy Board, a civilian Pentagon advisory group.
Albright served as the US secretary of state – the first woman ever to hold the job – during President Bill Clinton’s second term, 1997-2001. During the Democrat’s first term, she represented Washington in the UN.