Melinda French Gates to try working with ex-husband for two years

Questions about the future of the Gates Foundation have swirled since Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage. 

Bill and Melinda Gates smile
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates will continue to work together as co-chairs of their foundation after their planned divorce, but if after two years they cannot continue in their roles, French Gates will resign from her positions as co-chair and trustee [File: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP Photo]

Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates set a two-year trial period for working together at their namesake philanthropic foundation after their divorce, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday, stipulating that should the arrangement fail, French Gates would resign from her position as co-chair and trustee and focus on her own philanthropic efforts with funding from Bill.

In a statement announcing an additional $15bn in funding from the couple, the Gates Foundation said it would be adding new trustees to “bring new perspectives, help guide resource allocation and strategic direction, and ensure the stability and sustainability of the foundation”.

The announcement also laid out a plan if the ex-spouses choose not to work together.

Should French Gates choose to depart from the foundation, she “would receive personal resources from [Bill] Gates for her philanthropic work. These resources would be completely separate from the foundation’s endowment, which would not be affected.”

Questions about the future of the Gates Foundation, which has contributed $55bn to causes worldwide since its founding in 2000, have swirled since Bill and Melinda French Gates announced they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage in May.

Bill, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, and Melinda, an author and businesswoman, announced their decision to end their marriage in a joint statement posted to their individual Twitter accounts on May 3.

In it, they wrote that they would “continue our work together at the foundation”, but no longer believed they could “grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”.

Both have continued their work with the foundation since the announcement, as well as with the other philanthropic endeavours they contribute to separately.

Last week, the foundation pledged $2.1bn over the next five years to help advance gender equality worldwide during the UN Women Generation Equality Forum in Paris, where Melinda was a keynote speaker.

The Gates Foundation said its chief executive officer Mark Suzman and chief operating officer Connie Collingsworth will spend the next months developing recommendations with internal and external experts for the number of new trustees and the process to select them.

Then, the foundation, said, “as trustees, Gates and French Gates will approve changes to the foundation’s governance documents by the end of 2021, and the new trustees will be announced in January 2022.”

Source: Al Jazeera