Updated Mar 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died

Photo by Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Photo: Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright died Wednesday at the age of 84, her family said in a statement.

Driving the news: Albright, who served as the first female secretary of state, died of cancer, her family said.

  • "She was surrounded by family and friends. We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend," her family said.

The big picture: Albright served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton. As secretary, she promoted the expansion of NATO and military intervention in Kosovo.

  • Albright received the Medal of Freedom in 2012 from former President Barack Obama.
  • "As the first woman to serve as America’s top diplomat, Madeleine’s courage and toughness helped bring peace to the Balkans and paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world," Obama said when presenting her with the award, Politico reports.
  • Albright came to the U.S. as a refugee at 11 years old.
  • "The idea that a daughter of Czechoslovakia born shortly before the outbreak of global war would one day become America’s first woman Secretary of State once could not have been imagined," she wrote in her 2003 book, "Madam Secretary: A Memoir."

What they're saying: President Joe Biden called Albright "a force" in a statement.

  • "Working with Secretary Albright during the 1990s was among the highlights of my career in the United States Senate during my tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee," Biden said. "As the world redefined itself in the wake of the Cold War, we were partners and friends working to welcome newly liberated democracies into NATO and confront the horrors of genocide in the Balkans. When I think of Madeleine, I will always remember her fervent faith that America is the indispensable nation."
  • "I can say that the impact .... that she has had on this building is felt every single day in just about every single corridor," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday. "She was a trailblazer as the first female secretary of state and quite literally opened doors for a large element of our workforce," he added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper