Melinda Gates Says Coke Lessons Can Help Us Change The World
Susan notes: Thanks to TED for making TED Talks downloadable and embeddable, and for providing the biographical information that goes along with them.
Melinda French Gates (born Melinda Ann French; August 15, 1964) is an American philanthropist and wife of Bill Gates.
She is the co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a former unit manager for several Microsoft products such as Publisher, Microsoft Bob, Encarta, and Expedia.
Gates was born and raised in Dallas, Texas to Raymond Joseph French, Jr., an engineer, and Elaine Agnes Amerland, a homemaker. Gates attended St. Monica Catholic School and was the top student in her class.
Shortly thereafter, she joined Microsoft and participated in the development of many of Microsoft’s multimedia products including Publisher, Microsoft Bob, Encarta, and Expedia. In 1994, she married Bill Gates in a private ceremony held in Lanai, Hawaii after the couple met at a Microsoft press event while she visited Manhattan.
Shortly thereafter, she left Microsoft to focus on starting and raising her family. Her last position was Microsoft’s General Manager of Information Products. The Gates have three children: daughters Jennifer Katharine Gates (born 1996) and Phoebe Adele Gates (born 2002), and son Rory John Gates (born 1999).
Gates served as a member of Duke University's board of trustees from 1996 to 2003. Gates attends Bilderberg Group conferences and holds a seat on the board of directors of the Washington Post company. She retired from the board of Drugstore.com in August 2006 to spend more time working for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Gates have donated more than US$24 billion to the Foundation.
In December 2005, she and her husband, along with musician Bono, were named by Time as Persons of the Year. The Gates received the Spanish Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation on May 4, 2006 in recognition of their world impact through charitable giving.
After graduating as valedictorian from Ursuline Academy of Dallas in 1982, she earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and an MBA from Duke's Fuqua School of Business in 1987, where she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
She was ranked #40 in Forbes magazine list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in 2008, #24 in 2007, and #12 in 2006.
In November 2006, she and her husband were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle for their philanthropic work around the world in the areas of health and education, particularly in Mexico, and specifically in the program "Un país de lectores".
On June 12, 2009, Melinda and Bill Gates received honorary degrees from the University of Cambridge. Their benefaction of $210 million in 2000 set up the Gates Cambridge Trust, which funds postgraduate scholars from outside the UK to study at the University.
Melinda Gates has also donated over 10 million dollars to her high school Ursuline Academy of Dallas. She is one of the major donors of their Facing the Future Campaign and was honored in their dedication ceremony on May 7, 2010.