Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state, has died of cancer at age 84, according to media reports.
President Bill Clinton chose Albright as the country's top diplomat in 1996, and she served in that capacity for the last four years of the Clinton administration, The Chicago Tribune noted. She had previously been Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations.
As secretary of state, Albrighta refugee from Czechoslovakiaplayed a key role in persuading Clinton to go to war against the Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic over his treatment of Kosovar Albanians in 1999. Also, she helped win Senate ratification of NATO's expansion and a treaty imposing international restrictions on chemical weapons.
In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, saying her life was an inspiration to all Americans.
Albright supported the LGBTQ+ community in various ways. In 2010, Windy City Times reported on her speaking at the Palmer House Hilton at Chicago House and Social Service Agency's Speakers Series Luncheon. (Clinton spoke the previous year.)
In 1999, she swore in James Hormel as the first openly gay U.S. ambassador.
In a statement, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, "I am deeply saddened to hear of Madeleine Albright's passing and offer my sincerest condolences to her loved ones. As the first woman to hold the position of U.S. Secretary of State, she was a trailblazer for women across the globe and an inspiration to those working to bolster democracy in their respective nations. Albright was guided by a deep-rooted belief that everyone is entitled to peace and safety.
"As U.S. Secretary of State, she fought to end violence in the Balkans and was critical in influencing President Clinton to intercede in Kosovo to prevent genocide. Throughout her retirement, Albright continued to advocate for democracy around the world as a teacher and prolific writer. Through her powerful speeches and presence, which was often accentuated with one of her famous brooches, Albright spoke up for those who could not speak for themselves. In her own words, 'It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.'"