Melinda French Gates to Resign From Gates Foundation

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Melinda French Gates, one of the world’s most influential philanthropists and the ex-wife of the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, announced Monday that she would leave the foundation that she and her former husband founded nearly a quarter-century ago.

In a post on X, Ms. French Gates, 59, said she was “immensely proud” of the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which the former couple started in 2000 with an endowment of around $20 billion after merging two separate foundations.

“After careful thought and reflection, I have decided to resign from my role as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Ms. French Gates said in a statement. She added that the foundation was “in strong shape,” and that it was the right time for her to move “into the next chapter of my philanthropy.”

Ms. French Gates is leaving with $12.5 billion in personal resources to be used toward her philanthropic work, which focuses on women’s rights and gender equality. She said that her last day would be June 7.

The foundation will be renamed the Gates Foundation and Mr. Gates will become its sole chair, Mark Suzman, the foundation’s chief executive, said in a statement released Monday.

On X, Mr. Gates said he was “sorry to see Melinda leave,” but that she would “have a huge impact in her future philanthropic work.” He said Ms. French Gates was “instrumental” in helping shape the foundation’s vision, and that he remained “fully committed” to its work.

Ms. French Gates’s departure is the latest step in the evolution of the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private foundation. From public health and development to agriculture and education, the foundation is a highly influential player, giving away billions of dollars annually and shaping the world of philanthropy.

In a statement, Ms. French Gates said she would use the money she was leaving with to “commit to my work on behalf of women and families.” Mr. Suzman said Ms. French Gates would be dedicating her time to altering the trajectory of “women’s rights rolled back in the U.S. and around the world” over the past few years.

Her primary vehicle for her philanthropic work is Pivotal Ventures, a firm she founded in 2015.

Mr. and Ms. Gates announced their plans to divorce in May 2021, after 27 years of marriage. At the time, the foundation said that she would continue working with Mr. Gates as a co-chair of the foundation, and if they couldn’t work together, she would step down in May 2023 or later.

The divorce set in motion a number of changes at the top of the foundation as it sought to introduce stronger corporate governance mechanisms and professionalize its operations. In 2021, soon after the divorce, Warren E. Buffett, who had joined the foundation as its third trustee after announcing in 2006 that he would give to it a majority of his fortune, stepped down from his role, saying that his participation was not needed, but that he would continue to make contributions.

The following year, the foundation appointed its first board of trustees, an effort to improve its corporate governance structure and create a more professional operation in line with other entities of its size.

In recent years, Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates have been increasingly focused on their personal investing outfits — Mr. Gates at Gates Ventures and Ms. French Gates at Pivotal Ventures. .



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