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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright succumbs to cancer at 84-years-old

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MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Madeleine Albright, the first woman ever to serve as secretary of state, has passed away from cancer at the age of 84-years-old, according to a statement from her family.

"Madeleine Albright, born Marie Jana Korbelova, was a native of Prague who came to the United States as a refugee in 1948 and rose to the heights of American policy-making, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the nation's highest civilian honor," the statement said.

Albright served as secretary of state from early 1997 until early 2001, during a portion of Democratic President Bill Clinton's tenure. Albright had previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

"Hillary and I are profoundly saddened by the passing of Madeleine Albright. She was one of the finest Secretaries of State, an outstanding UN Ambassador, a brilliant professor, and an extraordinary human being," Clinton said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported that Albright's family departed Czechoslovakia in 1939 and lived in London during World War II — the outlet reported that the family went back to Czechoslovakia following the war, and then immigrated to the U.S. in 1948.

"A tireless champion of democracy and human rights, she was at the time of her death a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, part of Dentons Global Advisors, chair of Albright Capital Management, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, chair of the National Democratic Institute, chair of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, and an author," the family's statement noted. "She founded the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College, served as a lifetime trustee of The Aspen Institute, and was a member of the chapter of the Washington National Cathedral."

President Joe Biden said in a statement that Albright "was always a force for goodness, grace, and decency—and for freedom."

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