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Among the most influential stateswomen of her generation, Madeleine Albright died Wednesday of cancer at age 84, her family announced.
Having come to the United States as an 11-year-old political refugee, Madeleine Albright served as the country’s top diplomat under president Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001.
Madeleine Albright’s family said in a statement that she died “surrounded by family and friends,” and paid tribute to her as “a loving mother, grandmother, sister, and friend,” as well as a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights.”
In 1937, Madeleine Albright was born in Prague to Jewish parents who fled ahead of the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 – first to England, then to America a decade later.
Her family members were exterminated by the Nazis.
Upon graduating from college, Madeleine Albright began her career as a fundraiser, then as a congressional aide before joining President Jimmy Carter’s administration as Zbigniew Brzezinski’s national security advisor.
In 1993, Clinton appointed Albright as his ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1996, he appointed her secretary of state.
As a member of a new generation of women serving in public service, Albright was compared to Margaret Thatcher when she was at the peak of her career.
The only way a woman could express her foreign policy views was by marrying a diplomat and then pouring tea on an offending ambassador’s lap, said Madeleine Albright once.
Women are now involved in every aspect of global affairs.
Former department spokesman Ned Price remembered Albright as “a trailblazer as the first female secretary of state who literally opened doors for many people in her department.”
Several people in this building are grieving and will grieve today, he said.