Melinda Gates to leave Gates Foundation, keeps $12.5bn for her work

Melinda Gates to leave Gates Foundation, keeps $12.5bn for her work
Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, arrives for a meeting with French President at the Elysee Palace in Paris on July 1, 2021. Melinda Gates said on May 13, 2024 she was leaving the philanthropy mega foundation that she established with her ex-husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. "After careful thought and reflection, I have decided to resign from my role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation," she wrote in a statement posted on social media, adding the resignation would become effective on June 7. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)


Philanthropist Melinda French Gates announced Monday she was leaving the nonprofit foundation she established with her ex-husband Bill Gates -- an organization that has become one of the most influential in the world.


The announcement from the 59-year-old French Gates comes three years after her divorce from the 68-year-old Microsoft co-founder.


Under the agreement between the former power couple, French Gates -- whose resignation will take effect on June 7 -- will receive $12.5 billion for use on her philanthropic efforts "on behalf of women and families."


"After careful thought and reflection, I have decided to resign from my role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation," French Gates wrote in a statement posted on social media.


"This is a critical moment for women and girls in the US and around the world -- and those fighting to protect and advance equality are in urgent need of support."


The announcement comes in an election year in the United States when abortion is expected to play a pivotal role, as Democrats seek to exploit voter dissatisfaction with Republican efforts to restrict access to the procedure.


French Gates has long-standing links to prominent Democratic Party politicians.


"Melinda, this is so exciting," former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote on X.


"Thanks for everything you've already done, and I can't wait to see all you do next. Onward!"



Bill Gates married Melinda French in 1994. The couple have three children together, but announced their divorce in 2021.


They had continued to co-chair the foundation they set up using the vast wealth acquired through the success of Microsoft.


But the break in leadership had always been a possibility.


In July 2021, the Seattle-based foundation announced that while the pair would continue to work together in the aftermath of their marital separation, the arrangement was subject to review.


"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," a statement at the time 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."


With a focus on child poverty and preventable diseases, the foundation has been heavily involved in the fight against malaria and in providing toilets and sanitation in poorer parts of the world.


The foundation's website says it has spent $53.8 billion since 2000, and claims the number of children around the world who die before their fifth birthday has halved in this time.


Bill Gates on Monday thanked his ex-wife for her "critical contributions" to the organization.


"As a co-founder and co-chair Melinda has been instrumental in shaping our strategies and initiatives, significantly impacting global health and gender equality," he said.


"I am sorry to see Melinda leave, but I am sure she will have a huge impact in her future philanthropic work."


The organization's chief executive, Mark Suzman, said its name would change to simply the Gates Foundation.


"I truly admire Melinda, and the critical role she has played in starting the foundation and in setting our values, she has played an essential role in all that we've accomplished over the past 24 years," he said in a video posted to social media.


"I will miss working with her and learning from her. I look forward to seeing her continued impact."