Gwen Ifill, co-host of PBS' "NewsHour" program and a moderator of the show "Washington Week," died Monday after months of treatment for cancer. She was 61.

Ifill's recent contributions

Ifill was known as one of the industry's most prominent and important journalists. Her work on PBS garnered her major publicity, not just for filing impactful and heartfelt reports, but by doing so from the perspective of a black female, a demographic that has sometimes struggled to have their voice heard.

She took a leave from being a broadcaster in May due to her health problems and missed most of PBS' coverage of the election, where she likely would've had a prominent role.

Ifill served as the moderator of the vice presidential debate in both 2004 and 2008 and was seen as portraying the candidates in a fair and equal light. She also moderated a debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton for this year's Democratic primaries.

Ifill was set to be given the 2016 John Chancellor Award from Columbia University on Wednesday, which is awarded for excellent in journalism reporting.

A life of telling the truth

Ifill was born in New York and attended the all-female Simmons College.

Her first major obstacle came during an internship with the Boston Herald-American, where she was faced with racial epithets and calls to quit her job. Instead, she reveled in the opportunity to overcome the hatred and rise in the journalism world. She was also famously accused of being unable to report on President Obama's candidacy because of their shared race, a charge the rebutted with the idea that nobody ever questioned a white reporter's ability to cover a white candidate.

Ifill's first book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” was released on the day of Barack Obama's first presidential inauguration and is seen as one of the more definitive looks at how President Obama became the first African-American president of the United States.

President Obama praised Ifill upon learning of her death on Monday, concluding his thoughts by saying, "Gwen did her country a great service."

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