Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation outlines leadership contingency plan amid divorce

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation outlined a new leadership contingency plan on Wednesday amid the couple's high-profile divorce announced earlier this year.

While Bill and Melinda previously said they would continue to work at the foundation together despite their separation, Melinda is now being given the option to resign from her position as co-chair and trustee if the pair is unable to continue to work together after two years, according to a news release.  

"In such a case, French Gates would receive personal resources from Gates for her philanthropic work," the organization noted. "These resources would be completely separate from the foundation’s endowment, which would not be affected."


In order to support the contingency plan, the foundation will add new trustees to its board, who will "bring new perspectives, help guide resource allocation and strategic direction, and ensure the stability and sustainability of the foundation." Bill, Melinda and Warren Buffett currently serve as the organization's three trustees, though Buffet is stepping away from his position.

The foundation's CEO Mark Suzman and chief operating officer and legal officer Connie Collingsworth will lead the executive leadership team as it works in consultation with both inside and outside experts as well as Bill and Melinda to develop recommendations for the number of new trustees and the selection process.

The new trustees are expected to be announced in January 2022, following approval of the foundation's governance changes by Bill and Melinda.


In addition, Bill and Melinda will dole out $15 billion toward new resources to help the foundation continue its work. Since 2000, the organization's endowment has contributed over $55 billion to the fight against poverty, disease and inequity in the U.S. and around the world.

The new donation marks Bill and Melinda's single largest contribution since 2000 – when they transferred $20 billion in Microsoft stock to the foundation – and brings the foundation's total endowment to approximately $65 billion.

"I'm grateful to the foundation's leadership team, employees and partners for their dedication to making the world healthier and more just," Gates tweeted following the announcement. 

Melinda said in a statement that she is "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." 

"Every success we’ve seen is a testament to our partners and a broad coalition of government leaders, global experts, community organizers, activists, advocates, health care workers, farmers, teachers, and researchers – all united in their efforts to promote a healthier, safer, more equal world. Their faith that progress is possible fuels mine," she continued. "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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