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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Dies

The Medal of Freedom recipient was 84


Madeleine Albright, the United States’ first female secretary of state, died on March 23.

Her family cited the cause of death as cancer in an announcement shared on Albright’s Twitter page. She was 84 years old.

“We are heartbroken to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, the 64th Secretary of State and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today,” her family said.

Born Marie Jana Korbelova, Albright was born in Prague on May 15, 1937 and emigrated to America in 1948. Her family was granted political asylum in 1949 and moved to Denver, where her father, Josef, worked as a professor at the University of Denver.

She met her husband, Joseph Medill Patterson Albright, while working at the Denver Post. The couple married in 1959 and divorced in 1982. They had three daughters.

Albright earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in public law and government from Columbia University.

She taught at Georgetown University and advised Democrats on foreign policy.

Albright was the chief legislative aide to Democratic U.S. Senator Ed Muskie of Maine in 1976 and the National Security Council’s congressional liaison in 1978.

Albright was named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. During the Clinton administration, she was appointed secretary of state in 1996. She advocated for the expansion of NATO and for military intervention in Kosovo during her tenure. 

Although she was the highest-ranking woman in the government, Albright was excluded from the presidential succession because she was born in Czechoslovakia.

President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom in 2012.

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