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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Melinda French Gates Shifts Focus from Gates Foundation to Women’s Advocacy

Melinda French Gates has announced her departure from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic powerhouse she co-founded with her former husband, Bill Gates, nearly 25 years ago. Her decision to step down marks a significant transition for the foundation, now known simply as the Gates Foundation, which has been instrumental in reshaping global public health and development.

In a statement released on Monday, Ms. French Gates, 59, expressed her intention to resign from her role as co-chair of the foundation and devote herself fully to her philanthropic work on behalf of women and girls. She emphasized that the foundation was in strong shape and that it was the right time for her to embark on the next chapter of her philanthropy journey.

As part of her transition, Ms. French Gates will receive $12.5 billion in resources to direct towards her philanthropic endeavors. She intends to utilize these funds to further her work on behalf of women and families, a cause she has championed passionately for years.

Ms. French Gates has long advocated for the empowerment of women, asserting that their upliftment benefits society as a whole. Her pivot towards women’s rights and gender equality is expected to have a significant impact on the landscape of philanthropy.

Amir Pasic, the dean of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, described Ms. French Gates’s move as a milestone in the evolution of the Gates Foundation. He highlighted the potential influence of her contributions, particularly in light of the limited focus on women’s and girls’ organizations in philanthropic giving.

Ms. French Gates’s philanthropic work has primarily been channeled through Pivotal Ventures, a firm she established in 2015. Unlike a traditional foundation, Pivotal Ventures operates as a limited liability company, enabling it to engage in a wide range of activities, including grant-making, investments, and advocacy efforts. The firm, headquartered in Kirkland, Wash., focuses on issues such as paid family and medical leave, female representation in politics, and other initiatives aimed at advancing women’s rights.

In recent years, Pivotal Ventures has collaborated with prominent figures such as Michelle Obama and Mackenzie Scott, advocating for policy changes and making substantial financial commitments towards its causes. With the infusion of $1 billion in commitments thus far, the additional funds received by Ms. French Gates are expected to amplify the impact of Pivotal Ventures significantly.

Bill Gates expressed regret over Ms. French Gates’s departure but acknowledged her immense contributions to the foundation’s vision and work. He emphasized her instrumental role in shaping the foundation’s trajectory and reaffirmed his commitment to its mission.

Moving forward, Mr. Gates will assume the role of sole chair of the Gates Foundation, overseeing its operations and initiatives. Meanwhile, Ms. French Gates is poised to embark on a new journey focused on addressing the challenges faced by women and families, both in the United States and globally.

Ms. French Gates’s departure signals a pivotal moment for the Gates Foundation and the broader philanthropic community. As one of the world’s largest private foundations, the Gates Foundation’s future direction will undoubtedly be influenced by Ms. French Gates’s continued advocacy and contributions to women’s empowerment.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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