Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dies at 84

The first woman who served as U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, has died.

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Albright was 84 years old.

Her death was confirmed via email to staff at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm she had founded, CNN reported.

Her family said she died from cancer, The Associated Press reported.

They also posted a statement on her official Twitter account that said she died surrounded by family and friends.

“We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend,” they wrote.

Albright served as the first female secretary of state after being nominated by former President Bill Clinton on Dec. 5, 1996. She was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 22, 1997, and sworn in the next day, according to her official State Department biography.

She served as secretary of state for four years, leaving the position on Jan. 20, 2001.

During her tenure, Albright promoted the expansion of NATO into the former Soviet bloc nations.

Prior to being secretary of state, Albright served the Clinton administration as the ambassador to the United Nations.

Albright was born Marie Jean “Madlenka” Korbel on May 15, 1937, in Prague, Czechosloviakia. But because of where she was born, she was not able to be part of the presidential line of succession, despite being secretary of state, which is fourth in line, since she was not born in the U.S., the AP reported.

Her family came to the U.S. after a communist coup in 1948, settling in Denver, Colorado. She changed her name to Madeleine and became a citizen in 1957.

She graduated with honors from Wellesley College in 1959 with a bachelor of arts in political science. She had a Ph.D. in public law and government from Columbia University, graduating in 1976.

Albright went on to serve as a chief legislative assistant to Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) from 1976 to 1978. She was a White House staffer under President Jimmy Carter and was on the National Security Council under National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

She was appointed research professor of international affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and served as director of its Women in Foreign Service Program.

After she left her position as secretary of state, she remained outspoken on how the federal government operated internationally.

She criticized President George W. Bush for using “the shock of force” instead of diplomacy, the AP reported.