The Gates Foundation has announced a plan that would allow for it Melinda French Gates to resign as co-chair and receive “personal resources” from her foreign husband for her own philanthropic endeavor if she or Bill Gates decides they can no longer work together.
The leak cap, which will take effect after two years, was unveiled Wednesday alongside a series of other corporate governance changes aimed at ensuring the long-term future of the world’s largest private philanthropic foundation in a time of uncertainty.
Her introduction marks the first time French Gates has published the idea of leaving the $ 50 billion foundation since she and Gates announced in May that they were ending their 27-year marriage.
In an interview, Mark Suzman, the foundation’s chief executive, said French Gates and Gates he wanted to be “transparent” about the issues arising from his divorce and said he did not believe they would end their working relationship.
“It’s something that, certainly from my perspective, I don’t expect to happen, and I didn’t anticipate it,” he said. “Bill and Melinda, both individually and together, have assured me of their firm intention to continue working together as long-term co-chairs, and that is what we plan around.”
In what Suzman has promoted as a sign of their commitment, Gates and French Gates announced Wednesday that they will donate another $ 15 billion of their personal wealth to the foundation’s endowment. They also agreed to bring in new external trustees to help support the organization after Warren Buffett, the largest donor and sole trustee outside, announced last month that he was falendu.
No decision has yet been made on how many trustees will be added or their precise role in the decision, Suzman said. He and Connie Collingsworth, the head of the operation, plan to present proposals to the former couple in January after studying with other organizations.
“I would be surprised if this ends up being a significantly larger expansion,” Suzman added, predicting that new recruits could offer a new expertise or give geographical balance to a Seattle-based foundation that works largely outside the United States.
Gates and French Gates have been building the foundation for the past 21 years since Fort Bill raised as co-founder of Microsoft. It soon became one of the most influential forces in global public health and development policy.
When they announced their split, the couple assured staff and partners that they will continue the foundation’s mission together. However, these assurances were somewhat undermined by the formidable lawyers divorced from each other, as well as by the news that French Gates was angry about Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who killed himself in prison two years ago while waiting for the accusation of trafficking in minors.
Through a spokesman, Gates said he did sorry for the association, and who met Epstein to discuss philanthropy.
Some have speculated that Gates and French Gates will increasingly pursue their charitable paths, perhaps to the detriment of the foundation. Melinda has her own $ 5 billion fund, Pivotal Ventures, focused on women’s causes, while Bill has a separate fund dedicated to clean energy technology.
For all the recent turmoil, Suzman predicted the foundation will continue to be the focus of the couple. Last week it announced plans to invest $ 2.1 billion to improve gender equality over a five-year period, one of its biggest single commitments.
In a note to staff Wednesday, French Gates said: “These changes in governance bring more diverse perspectives and experiences to the foundation’s executives. I believe deeply in the mission of the foundation and remain fully committed as co-chair to its work. ”