The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. As co-chair, Melinda French Gates helps shape and approve strategies, review results, advocate for foundation issues and set the overall direction. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people's health with vaccines and other life-saving tools and giving them a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to dramatically improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
In recent years, Melinda French Gates has become a vocal advocate for access to contraception, advancing the idea that empowering women to decide whether and when to have children can have transformational effects on societies. In 2012, Gates spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning, with the goal of delivering contraceptives to 120 million women in developing countries by 2020. When asked why she got involved in this issue, Gates said, "We knew that 210 million women were saying they wanted access to the contraceptives we have here in the United States and we weren't providing them because of political controversy in our country. To me, that was just a crime. I kept looking around trying to find the person to get this back on the global stage. I realized I just had to do it."
Bill Gates is the founder and former CEO of Microsoft. A geek icon, tech visionary and business trailblazer, Gates' leadership -- fueled by his long-held dream that millions might realize their potential through great software -- made Microsoft a personal computing powerhouse and a trendsetter in the Internet dawn. Whether you're a suit, chef, quant, artist, media maven, nurse or gamer, you've probably used a Microsoft product today.
In summer of 2008, Gates left his day-to-day role with Microsoft to focus on philanthropy. Holding that all lives have equal value (no matter where they're being lived), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now donated staggering sums to HIV/AIDS programs, libraries, agriculture research and disaster relief -- and offered vital guidance and creative funding to programs in global health and education. Gates believes his tech-centric strategy for giving will prove the killer app of planet Earth's next big upgrade.
Read a collection of Bill and Melinda Gates' annual letters, where they take stock of the Gates Foundation and the world. And follow his ongoing thinking on his personal website, The Gates Notes. His new paper, "The Next Epidemic," is published by the New England Journal of Medicine.