Madeleine Albright, the first woman United States Secretary of State, died of cancer, according to her mother on Wednesday. She was 84 years old.
President Bill Clinton was named America's top diplomat in 1996, and she served in that capacity for the last four years of the Clinton administration. Clinton had previously served as Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations.
She was once the most-ranking lady in the history of the United States government. She was not in the line of succession for the presidency, however, because she was a native of Czechoslovakia, born in Prague.
"She was surrounded by friends and family," her family said on Twitter. "We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend." It claimed the illness.
President Barack Obama gave Albright the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2012, declaring that her life was an inspiration to all Americans.
Albright remained in touch throughout the years. After her departure, she criticised President George W. Bush for using "the shock of force" rather than alliances to promote diplomacy, claiming that Bush had driven away moderate Arab leaders and created the possibility for a dangerous clash with European friends.
As a refugee from Czechoslovakia, she was not a dove and played a key role in pressing for the Clinton administration to become militarily involved in the Kosovo conflict. She also reached an agreement with the United Nations, famously declaring that the Cuban shootdown of a civilian aircraft was not "cojones," but rather "cowardice."
She advised women "to act in a more compassionate manner" and "to ask questions when they occur and don't wait to ask."
It took me a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I will not be silent, she said of HuffPost Living in 2010.
When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked her in January 2007 whether she approved Bush's proposed "surge" in US troops in bloodied Iraq, she said: "I think we need a surge in diplomacy. We are seen in the Middle East as a colonial power, and our motives are suspect."
Albright was an internationalist who was influenced in part by her background. In 1939, the Nazis took control of their country, and she spent the last years in London.
Note: An earlier version of this AP story incorrectly stated Albright was 85. She was 84.