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Melinda French Gates          

Philanthropist, Businesswoman, Global Advocate for Women & Girls; Founder of Pivotal Ventures; Former Chair & Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda French Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman, and global advocate for women and girls. She developed an early interest in computers while taking an advanced math class at the Ursuline Academy, a Catholic school for girls. She went on to pursue this interest in college, earning a bachelor's degree in computer science from Duke University in 1986. The following year, she obtained a master's degree in business administration, with a focus in economics, from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

French Gates joined Microsoft Corporation in 1987, and married Bill Gates in 1994. That same year, the couple co-founded what was later to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In her role as co-chair, French Gates has helped shape and approve strategies, review results, and advocate for foundation issues. Besides focusing on the improvement of people's health with vaccines and other life-saving tools in developing countries, the foundation also seeks to dramatically improve education in the United States. In 2006, French Gates restructured the organization and in 2012, she pledged $560 million toward improving access to contraception for women in poor countries.

Beyond the realm of the foundation, French Gates has become a vocal advocate for empowering women and girls at home and abroad. She spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012, and has given multiple TED talks, including: "What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola," "Let's put birth control back on the agenda," and "Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we've done."

In 2015, aiming to utilize a broader range of tools beyond those available in a foundation setting, French Gates founded Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company working to drive social progress for women and families in the United States. In 2024, French Gates announced her resignation as co-chair of the foundation to dedicate more time and resources to her philanthropic efforts in promoting women's health and reproductive freedom.


Melinda French Gates Resigns from Foundation --Feels Compelled to offer Americans Financial Support for Reproductive Freedom
French Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest and most prominent philanthropists, resigned from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this month. Tuesday, she gave the first details of her new plan. French Gates said she will donate $1 billion through 2026 to advance women’s rights around the world through her organization, Pivotal Ventures. That will include $200 million in grants to organizations that are fighting for women’s reproductive rights.
Melinda Gates' advice to girls: 'Use you voice' -
Speaking from New York, the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation tell us why health is at the heart of women's progress.
Melinda Gates is No. 3 on Forbes list of world's most powerful women
Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ranks No. 3 in Forbes magazine's annual list of the 100 most powerful ...
Melinda Gates goes public
... about living with Bill, working with Warren Buffett, and giving away their billions...
Melinda Gates Gives US Education a C-Plus - ABC News
Melinda Gates, one of the most influential women in American education, said this week she gives the U.S. public school system a C-plus, but adds there are ...

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