Anita Datar, 41, was one of at least 21 killed Friday -- according to the Mali Ministry of Interior -- when gunmen attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako. The United Nations reported Friday at least 27 were killed.
"It's unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of terrorism," the statement said. "She loved her family and her work tremendously."
According to her family, Datar worked as a senior manager at the consulting firm Palladium Group and was a founding board member of Tulalens, a non-profit "connecting underserved communities with quality health services."
Datar, who had a son, originally was from western Massachusetts and grew up in New Jersey. She served in the peace corps in Senegal from 1997-'99 "and has spent much of her career working to advance global health and international development, with a focus on population and reproductive health, family planning, and HIV."
"Everything she did in her life she did to help others— as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend," the statement said. "And while we are angry and saddened that she has been killed, we know that she would want to promote education and healthcare to prevent violence and poverty at home and abroad, not intolerance."
A family member said that she was in Mali "doing what she loved -- strengthening public health."
It was not clear how Datar died during the siege, during which at least three gunmen stormed the hotel, which was popular with Westerners and the UN.
Also killed was a Belgian Member of Parliament, Geoffrey Dieudonné as well as two attackers, officials said.