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Melinda French Gates Steps Down from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda French Gates, a leading figure in global philanthropy, announced on Monday her resignation as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a role she has held since its inception in 2000.

Since its founding, the foundation has disbursed nearly $78 billion in grants over almost 25 years.

The foundation’s CEO, Mark Suzman, stated that French Gates’s decision follows extensive reflection and is influenced by her vision for the next phase of her philanthropic endeavors.

“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 divorce agreement with Bill Gates, French Gates will receive an additional $12.5 billion for her charitable initiatives.

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“This is not a decision I came to lightly,” she stated 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 will officially leave the foundation on June 7, and she plans to share more details about her future philanthropic plans soon.

The foundation will be renamed the Gates Foundation, with Bill Gates becoming the sole chair, Suzman confirmed.

“I am sorry to see Melinda leave, but I am sure she will have a huge impact in her future philanthropic work,” Bill Gates expressed in a separate statement 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 added.

French Gates’ departure has been anticipated for several years. Following their divorce announcement in May 2021, the couple allowed themselves a trial period through 2023 to see if they could continue co-managing their foundation.

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Suzman had announced a contingency plan in July 2021 to ensure the foundation’s continued work. He explained that if either party decided they couldn’t continue as co-chairs after two years, French Gates would step down. Bill Gates would then retain control and provide French Gates with resources separate from the foundation’s endowment for her own philanthropic work.

In January 2022, the foundation added four new members to its board of trustees to strengthen its governance following the divorce. This was the first time the foundation included external members on its board, which had been solely comprised of Bill and Melinda French Gates after the death of Bill Gates Sr. in 2020 and Warren Buffett’s resignation in June 2021.

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