For the first time in its existence, the foundation has gone out of the Gates and Buffet families to name board members.
In 2020, Bill Gates Sr., who was a member of the board passed away. Shortly after his demise, Warren Buffet, one of the biggest funders of the foundation, also decided to step away from the board, leaving just Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates at the saddle.
In its inaugural annual letter published on Wednesday, the foundation named Masiyiwa, Baroness Nemat (Minouche) Shafik, Thomas J. Tierney, and Mark Suzman, as new members of the board.Advertisement
They join co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates. The board members will work alongside Gates and French Gates, bringing independent and diverse perspectives to help strengthen the foundation’s governance.
The annual letter by Suzman, the CEO of the foundation, highlights the foundation’s efforts to fight poverty and disease, while creating a better, fairer world.
According to Suzman, this governance also represents an explicit recognition by Gates and French Gates, especially in the wake of their recent divorce, that the foundation will be well served by the addition of independent voices to help shape its work in the future.Advertisement
The board, Suzman said, could include up to nine total members, with conversations ongoing about adding to the initial slate to enhance representation across gender, geography, and expertise.
The board announcement comes at a time of unprecedented global challenges; the COVID-19 pandemic is reported to have slowed, halted, and even reversed hard-won gains in global health and development around the world.
After nearly two decades of steady progress, tens of millions of people have been thrown back into poverty, childhood vaccination rates have dropped, and diseases from malaria to tuberculosis have resurged.
Since January 2020, estimates show that the Gates Foundation has committed more than $2 billion to the global COVID-19 response, with a focus on making sure support reaches marginalized communities as quickly and effectively as possible.