Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

The Gates Foundation said that Melinda French Gates could eventually depart from its leadership if she and Bill Gates determine they can’t work together, as the philanthropy laid out plans for its future oversight.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Wednesday that it would add trustees and that its controlling philanthropists would add an additional $15 billion to the foundation’s $49.9 billion endowment, their largest single contribution since 2000. The money would be used to fund grants across the foundation’s work on issues including infectious diseases, gender equality and U.S. education, Mark Suzman, the foundation’s chief executive officer, said in an interview.

Under a private agreement that is part of their planned divorce, Ms. French Gates would resign as co-chair and trustee if after two years either of the co-chairs decides they can no longer work together to lead the foundation, Mr. Suzman said. Should that happen, he said, Ms. French Gates would receive funds from Mr. Gates separate from the foundation’s endowment for her own philanthropic work.

Ms. French Gates has discussed for at least several weeks the possibility of leaving the foundation if joint leadership with Mr. Gates isn’t tenable, people familiar with the matter said. She has been spending more time on work through her firm Pivotal Ventures while maintaining her work at the foundation, the people said.

The foundation disclosed the arrangement because it is relevant to additional trustees that the organization plans to bring on, Mr. Suzman said in the interview. He said it doesn’t signal Ms. French Gates’s impending departure. “Bill and Melinda have both individually and together assured me of their firm intent to keep working together as long-term co-chairs of the foundation,” he said.

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