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Melinda French Gates can resign from foundation in two years

Melinda and Bill Gates in 2017.
Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates plan to continue working together as foundation co-chairs after their divorce, but there is a contingency plan in case they can’t.
(Kamil Zihnioglu / Associated Press)

Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates will continue to work together as co-chairs of their foundation even after their planned divorce. However, if after two years Gates and French Gates decide they cannot continue in their roles, French Gates will resign her positions as co-chair and trustee, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday.

If French Gates resigns, Gates would essentially buy her out of the foundation, one of the world’s largest private charitable organizations, and she would receive resources from him to do her own philanthropic work. The resources received would be separate from the foundation’s endowment, according to the announcement.

To reflect their commitment to continue the Gates Foundation together, Gates and French Gates announced an additional $15 billion for the foundation’s endowment. Foundation Chief Executive Mark Suzman also announced that the foundation would expand its board of trustees. Currently, only Gates and French Gates are on the board of trustees, after Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett’s resignation as a trustee in June.

Warren Buffett is resigning as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a few weeks after the Gateses announced their divorce.

“Our vision for the foundation has grown over time, but it has always been focused on addressing inequity and expanding opportunity for the world’s poorest people,” Bill Gates said in a statement. “These new resources and the evolution of the foundation’s governance will sustain this ambitious mission and vital work for years to come.”

Gates and French Gates announced in May that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage.

“I am deeply proud of all that the foundation and its partners have accomplished over the past two decades to bring us closer to a world where everyone, everywhere has the chance to live a healthy and productive life,” French Gates said in a statement. “These governance changes bring more diverse perspectives and experience to the foundation’s leadership. I believe deeply in the foundation’s mission and remain fully committed as co-chair to its work.”


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