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Melinda French Gates

Melinda Gates: The Pillar of our Future

The title Gates was always associated with the one and only Bill Gates, the man behind Microsoft. But today, another name, which
Melinda Gates
demands a greater mention with the title Gates, is Melinda; not because she is the wife of the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, but because her own endeavors have set up new heights. A height, which no woman could achieve till date and a height, which went on to crown her as one of the most powerful women in the world.

While Bill Gates’ software and discoveries fueled the computer industry, Melinda Gates’ philanthropic activities sparked new hopes amongst millions. Today, when one speaks about the Gates, Bill and Melinda together inevitably come to mind.

At present, she is widely known as the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to improve the living standard of the underprivileged through better health and educational facilities. She is also its acting co-chair.

Her Early Days
Born as Melinda Ann French on 15thAugust 1964 in Dallas, Texas to an aerospace engineer, Ray French and a stay-at-home mommy, Elaine French, she was the second of her four siblings. Her mother Elaine ensured that the education of her children was duly observed and she along with her husband did everything in their caliber to help them grow into an educated bunch. Melinda is a Roman Catholic and she did her schooling from St. Monica Catholic School. During that time, she used to be the top student.

She went on to pursue her graduation from the Ursuline Academy of Dallas and was conferred the honor of being a valedictorian
in her graduating class. It was while studying advanced maths at Ursuline Academy that Melinda developed an interest in computers. Her interest landed her at the Duke University where she earned her bachelor degree in computer science in the year 1986. She next went on to acquire the master degree in business administration with special emphasis in economics from the Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in the year 1987.

During her life as a student she worked at the Freshman Advisory Council, worked as a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority at the Duke University and also assisted the Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee.

Her stint with Microsoft
The next phase of Melinda’s life started in the year 1987, with Microsoft. She commenced her career with Microsoft as a product manager. During the initial phase she developed multimedia and other interactive products. Success soon poured in and she distinguished herself in various fields. Her stint with Microsoft continued for nine years during which she went on to become the general manager of information products. She went on to work as a unit manager for such multimedia products for Microsoft as Publisher, Encarta, Expedia, and Microsoft Bob.

Melinda Gates’ association does not merely end with Microsoft. She was also the former co-chair on Early Learning of the Washington State Governor’s Commission and also served as a member of the board of directors for

Personal Life
Melinda’s marriage with Bill Gates changed the course of her life. The couple met in the year 1987 in Manhattan at a press event. The two began dating soon after. Their six years courtship culminated into marriage in the year 1994, which was a private affair and held in Lanai, Hawaii on January 1, 1994. Their first child, a daughter was born in the year 1996. They named her Jennifer Katharine Gates. The birth of her first child brought an end to her stint with Microsoft. She decided to move her focus on child rearing and in various philanthropic activities. They went on to have two more children later; a son Rory John Gates (1999) and a daughter Phoebe Adele Gates (2002).

The couple resides in Medina, on the shore of Lake Washington near Seattle.

Philanthropic Efforts/The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda and Bill Gates formed the William H. Gates Foundation in the year 1994 in collaboration with Bill’s father. Later, in the year 1999, the couple merged the William H. Gates Foundation with their other charitable organizations, namely, the Gates Learning Foundation or the Gates Library Foundation. The newly created charitable organization was retitled by the duo as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Though the initial motive of the organization was different it was Melinda Gates who over the years enlarged the organization’s scope and included various missions that aimed at improving the education and health standard of the unprivileged people worldwide. The donation of $30 billion to the foundation by Warren Buffett in 2006 boosted the growth of the organization. Melinda Gates divided the organization into three sections: global development, US community and education, and worldwide health. This division was done for better approachability of the masses.

As a primary health objective of the organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stressed on the prevention of such diseases as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and to develop vaccines for such treatments.

In the year 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set out on a mission to improve global health, support families in Washington State and Oregon, improving education, and providing easy accessibility to digital information. Another milestone undertaken by Melinda was when she assured $560 million for improving the easy availability of contraception for women in the third-world countries.

With her incredible contributions, she is here to continue her charity and to bring a colossal change against all odds.

Awards and Recognition
Melinda Gates received a number of prestigious awards for her relentless contributions in the domain of charity. Along with her husband, she received the Jefferson Awards for the Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged. They were named Persons of the Year by Time, in December 2005. The Spanish Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation was presented to them on May 4 2006 for their charitable work. Both Melinda and Bill Gates received the Order of the Aztec Eagle in November 2006, for their numerous philanthropic works worldwide. Forbes placed her at number three in 2013, number four in 2012, and number six in 2011 in their most esteemed list of the 100 Most Powerful Women.

Melinda and Bill Gates were conferred the honorary degrees from the University of Cambridge on June 12, 2009. For her charitable commitment she was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Duke University in the year 2013.

Melinda Gates: Facts and Information
Full NameMelinda Ann French
Born15th August 1964
ResidenceMedina, WA, US
FatherRay French
MotherElaine French
Sister/BrotherOne elder sister, two younger brothers
Alternative NameMelinda Gates
Marriage1st January 1994, to Bill Gates
DaughtersJennifer Katharine Gates (born 1996) and Phoebe Adele Gates (born 2002),
SonRory John Gates (born 1999)
TeenageMelinda Gates developed a knack for the computers as a teenager.
SchoolingSt. Monica Catholic School
EducationGraduation: Ursuline Academy of Dallas in 1982. Bachelor's degree: Computer Science from Duke University in 1986. MBA: Duke's Fuqua School of Business in 1987.
OccupationJoined Microsoft in 1987
Philanthropic ActivitiesMelinda along with her husband Bill Gates co-founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Awards and Recognition Jefferson Awards for the Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged
The Spanish Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation on May 4, 2006
Order of the Aztec Eagle on November 2006
Honorary degrees from the University of Cambridge on June 12, 2009
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Duke University in 2013

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Last Updated : May 09, 2014

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