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Melinda Is Resigning From The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair Of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo: Collected

Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair Of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo: Collected

Melinda French Gates, one of the world’s preeminent philanthropists, said Monday she would resign as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that she has helped lead since 2000. The foundation has made nearly $78 billion worth of grant payments in the nearly 25 years since its founding.

French Gates made the decision “after considerable reflection, based on how she wants to spend the next chapter of her philanthropy,” the foundation’s CEO, Mark Suzman, wrote in a statement Monday. “Melinda has new ideas about the role she wants to play in improving the lives of women and families in the U.S. and around the world. And, after a difficult few years watching women’s rights rolled back in the U.S. and around the world, she wants to use this next chapter to focus specifically on altering that trajectory.”

As part of her separation agreement from former husband Bill Gates, French Gates said she will receive an additional $12.5 billion for her charitable work.

“This is not a decision I came to lightly,” she said in a statement posted on X. “I am immensely proud of the foundation that Bill and I built together and of the extraordinary work it is doing to address inequities around the world.”

French Gates said she plans to leave the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on June 7, and she will share more about her future charitable plans in the near future.

The organization will change its name to the Gates Foundation, and Bill Gates will become the sole chair, Suzman said.

“I am sorry to see Melinda leave, but I am sure she will have a huge impact in her future philanthropic work,” wrote Bill Gates in a separate statement Monday, also posted on X.

“Looking ahead, I remain fully committed to the Foundation’s work across all our strategies, and to realizing the opportunities we have to continue improving the lives of millions around the world,” he wrote.

French Gates’ planned exit

French Gates’ exit had been telegraphed for several years. Bill Gates and French Gates announced their divorce in May 2021. They said at the time they would allow themselves a kind of trial period through 2023 to determine if they could continue working with one another to oversee their massive charitable foundation.

Suzman announced in July 2021 a contingency plan “to ensure the continuity of the foundation’s work.”

“If after two years either decides they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” Suzman said.

Gates will remain in control and, essentially, buy French Gates out of the foundation, Suzman said at the time. French Gates would receive “personal resources” from Gates for her own philanthropic work — resources that would be “completely separate from the foundation’s endowment.”

In January 2022, the foundation announced four new members to its board of trustees to help bolster the foundation’s governance in the wake of the divorce. It marked the first time the Gates foundation added outsiders to the charity’s board in its two-decade history. The charity had no trustees beside Bill and Melinda French Gates since Bill Gates Sr.’s death in 2020 and Warren Buffett’s resignation in June 2021 after 15 years on the board.

“I want to reassure you that the millions of people our work serves and the thousands of partners we work alongside can continue to count on the foundation,” said Suzman in a post on the foundation’s website Monday afternoon. “The foundation today is stronger than it has ever been.”

“I know we all wish Melinda the best in her next chapter,” he added, noting that French Gates “will not be bringing any of the foundation’s work with her when she leaves.”

Giving it all away

The $75.2 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s mission is to improve health care in developing countries, enhance educational opportunities and reduce poverty by providing grants and support to various initiatives and organizations around the world.

French Gates also founded Pivotal Ventures, a separate charity that focuses on removing barriers for minorities and women in the United States, in 2015. She committed $1 billion to the organization in 2019.

The Microsoft cofounder and French Gates have both pledged to donate the vast majority of their wealth to the foundation as well as to other philanthropic endeavors.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in January, Gates said he and partners like Buffett have given away about $100 billion into the foundation. With plans to spend $9 billion a year, Gates anticipates he’ll have given away all of his money in about 20 years._CNN

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