Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State in U.S. history, died Wednesday of cancer, according to CNN. She was 84.

Albright served as the 64th Secretary of State from 1997-2001 under President Bill Clinton. She was credited with helping steer U.S. foreign policy after the Cold War, and in 2012 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

She was born on May 15, 1937 in Czechoslovakia, and she and her family moved to the United States in 1948. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1957, then attended Wellesley College and studied political science, graduating in 1959. After getting her PhD from Columbia, she worked for several politicians in Washington, D.C., conducted international research and went on to be a major foreign policy advisor for the Democratic Party.

Geraldine Ferraro and Michael Dukakis both enlisted Albright as an advisor in 1984 and 1988, and in 1993 Clinton nominated her to be a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. During his second term, Albright became the first female Secretary of State and was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government at that time.

During her tenure, she played a major role in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she pushed for the growth of NATO into former Soviet nations of Eastern Europe. In the early 2000s, Albright became one of the first and highest-level Western politicians to meet former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during an official visit, and she pushed for the eradication of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

After her time in the White House ended, Albright founded the Albright Stonebridge Group, an international strategy consulting group in Washington, D.C. She was a professor at Georgetown University, 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. In Hollywood, Albright appeared on episodes of “Gilmore Girls” and “Parks and Recreation.”