Melinda French Gates could quit foundation if she and Bill Gates can’t work together in 2 years

Bill and Melinda French Gates said they have a backup plan if it turns out they can’t work together following their recent divorce: She will leave the Gates Foundation in two years if “either decides they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs,” according to the philanthropic organization.

French Gates would resign from her position as co-chair and trustee if that happened, but she would receive “personal resources” from Bill Gates for her own charitable work, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said in a statement on Wednesday. The plans for the foundation come after the Gateses announced in May that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage

The future of the Gates Foundation has been under scrutiny amid the pair’s breakup. The charity, one of the largest in the world, has spent more than $55 billion to combat poverty, disease and inequality. In announcing the new leadership plan, the foundation said it is committing another $15 billion to further its goals, while also expanding its governance to include additional trustees. 

“I believe deeply in the foundation’s mission and remain fully committed as co-chair to its work,” French Gates said in the statement. 

The foundation said it would be working over the next few months to develop recommendations for the number of trustees it will add, as well as the selection process for finding new trustees. 

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The decision to add trustees comes after billionaire financier Warren Buffett resigned from the Gates Foundation last month, saying he had been an “inactive” trustee of the organization. 

Gates and French Gates said they are “fully committed to continuing to work constructively together at the foundation to advance its program and policy objectives,” but agreed to the two-year trial period to “ensure the continuity of the foundation’s work,” according to the statement. 

If French Gates departs and is given resources for her own charitable work, that money would be separate from the foundation’s endowment and wouldn’t impact its assets, the statement noted. 

Bill Gates is the fourth-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $147 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

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