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Melinda French Gates resigns as co-chair from the Gates Foundation

Melinda French Gates, one of the world's wealthiest philanthropists, announced Monday she is resigning as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — a foundation she has helped lead since its start in 2000.

In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), the 59-year-old said she was "immensely proud" of the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the decision to step down as co-chair was not easy.

French Gates says that her last day with the foundation is June 7.

"This is not a decision I came to lightly," she wrote on X. "I am immensely proud of the foundation that Bill and I built together and of the extraordinary work it is doing to address inequities around the world."

As part of her separation agreement from the foundation, French Gates says she will receive an additional $12.5 billion for her charitable work, which she says she plans to use toward her ongoing work supporting women and families.

"This is a critical moment for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world — and those fighting to protect and advance equality are in urgent need of support," she adds.

In a separate statement posted to X, Bill Gates thanked his co-founder and former wife for her contributions to the foundation since its start, emphasizing how instrumental she was in shaping the various initiatives and strategies of the foundation.

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

Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote in a statement Monday that French Gates "deeply cares about the foundation," as he echoed her ability to connect to those whom she served.

In the same statement, Suzman announced that the foundation would be renamed the Gates Foundation, as Bill Gates will become its sole chair.

The couple, who met in 1987, launched the foundation in 2000 and is a massive donor to issues surrounding global health. Since its founding, Bill Gates has donated about $35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the global organization, Forbes reported.

In 2021, Melinda and Bill Gates announced the end of their 27-year marriage. The two said at the time that they still shared a belief in the foundation's mission and would continue to continue to work together despite their marriage ending.

"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives," the couple wrote in their announcement.

Editors Note: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is among NPR's financial supporters.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.