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Melinda French Gates explains why she's leaving her and Bill Gates' foundation 3 years after their divorce

Sarah Jackson   

Melinda French Gates explains why she's leaving her and Bill Gates' foundation 3 years after their divorce
  • Melinda French Gates further explained her decision to leave the foundation she started with Bill Gates.
  • In an op-ed in The New York Times, she said she was leaving to focus on her philanthropy.

Melinda French Gates is speaking out about her upcoming departure from the philanthropic foundation she cofounded with her now ex-husband Bill Gates.

She explained her decision in an op-ed in The New York Times published Tuesday.

"Many years ago, I received this piece of advice: 'Set your own agenda, or someone else will set it for you.' I've carried those words with me ever since," she wrote. "That's why, next week, I will leave the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which I was a co-founder almost 25 years ago, to open a new chapter in my philanthropy."

French Gates announced earlier this month that she was resigning as cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, effective June 7, to "move forward into the next chapter of my philanthropy."

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

French Gates and Gates announced their divorce in 2021 after 27 years of marriage, saying, "We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives." The Wall Street Journal later reported that French Gates had been meeting with divorce lawyers since 2019 after her husband's ties to Jeffrey Epstein became publicly known (Gates has said his meetings with Epstein were "a mistake in judgment.")

After announcing their divorce, French Gates affirmed her commitment to working with her ex-husband for the foundation. The foundation said in July 2021 that Gates French would step down from her role as cochair if, after two years, either she or Gates decided they could no longer continue working together.

As recently as last July, spokespeople for French Gates told The Wall Street Journal she'd decided to stay with the foundation as its cochair. But 10 months later, she announced she was resigning.

She wrote in the Times op-ed that as part of her new philanthropic endeavors, she was committing $1 billion through 2026 to "people and organizations working on behalf of women and families around the world, including on reproductive rights in the United States."

Included is a $20 million grant-making fund distributed to a dozen people to use at their discretion, including former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the track and field Olympic medalist Allyson Felix, and the filmmaker Ava DuVernay, according to a press release from Pivotal Ventures, which French Gates founded in 2015.




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