Gwen Ifill, one of the most prominent African-American journalists in the country, has died, according to PBS. She was 61.
Ifill, the host of PBS’ Washington Week, was a veteran Washington journalist who covered seven presidential campaigns and moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.
Ifill was also the best-selling author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
In 2013, Ifill was named co-host of the PBS NewsHour. In an interview with The New York Times, she reflected on what her appointment could mean to a new generation.
“When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,” she said. “I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy [Woodruff] sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal — that it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all.”
Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, said Ifill was “a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the world.”
“Her contributions to thoughtful reporting and civic discourse simply cannot be overstated,” Kerger said. “She often said that her job was to bring light rather than heat to issues of importance to our society. Gwen did this with grace and steadfast commitment to excellence.”
Ifill started her journalism career as a print reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald American. She went on to become a national political reporter for The Washington Post and the White House correspondent for The New York Times.
Ifill died after a battle with cancer.