“If after two years either decides they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” CEO Mark Suzman said.
If that happens, Bill Gates would remain in control and, essentially, buy her out of the foundation, Suzman said. Melinda French Gates would receive “personal resources” from Gates for her own philanthropic work — resources that would be “completely separate from the foundation’s endowment.”
In addition to the break-up contingency, Wednesday’s statement from the foundation announced the couple had committed $15 billion to the foundation’s endowment.
The Gateses are also expanding the number of trustees overseeing the foundation’s governance to “bring new perspectives, help guide resource allocation and strategic direction, and ensure the stability and sustainability of the foundation.”
In the two decades since the foundation was established, it has contributed more than $55 billion — much of it from the Gateses’ personal wealth — to a wide range of initiatives related to global health, poverty alleviation and, more recently, the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, according to its website. As co-chairs, the Gateses have steered the organization’s vision, with Suzman overseeing the day-to-day operations.