WebMD News Brief

Madeleine Albright, First Female Secretary of State, Dies at 84

photo of Madeleine Albright

March 23, 2022 -- Madeleine Albright, the 64th U.S. secretary of state and first woman to serve in that position, died in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

She was 84 years old.

The cause of death was cancer, her family confirmed in a Twitter statement.

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

Born Marie Jana Korbelova, Albright fled her home of Prague, Czech Republic, after Nazi troops and Czech Communists invaded the region. She came to the U.S. in 1948 as a refugee.

She rose through the ranks of the Democratic Party with her expertise in world affairs and national security.

Albright was secretary of state under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001. Before that, she was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997.

She was a professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service at the time of her passing.

Known by her family as a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights,” Albright served in several other roles, including as president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, chair of the National Democratic Institute and the U.S. Defense Policy Board, and was a lifetime trustee of the Aspen Institute.

In 2010, she founded the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College, which aims to shape “the next generation of global leaders.”

Albright received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2012.