Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates are giving themselves a two-year trial period to continue co-chairing their massive charitable foundation.
When the couple announced their divorce two months ago, they said they would both stay on as co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But on Wednesday, the foundation’s CEO announced a contingency plan “to ensure the continuity of the foundation’s work.”
“If after two years either decides they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” CEO Mark Suzman said.”In such a case, French Gates would receive personal resources from Gates for her philanthropic work. These resources would be completely separate from the foundation’s endowment, which would not be affected.”
To reflect their commitment to continue the Gates Foundation together, Gates and French Gates announced an additional $15 billion to the foundation’s endowment. Gates Foundation CEO 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 CEO Warren Buffett’s resignation as trustee in June.
The foundation also will add more trustees, according to the announcement.
“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,” said French Gates. “Every success we’ve seen is a testament to our partners and a broad coalition of government leaders, global experts, community organizers, activists, advocates, healthcare 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. 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.”
Gate and French Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
“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.”