Melinda Gates was born Melinda Ann French in 1964 in Dallas, Texas. She showed an early interest in science and technology and received a BA in computer science and an MA in business, both from Duke University. After graduation, she began working at Microsoft, where she had several positions from 1987 to 1996, including as marketing manager and product developer, and General Manager of Information Products. She served on the Duke University Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2003, published her first book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World in 2019 and started an investment and incubation company called Pivotal Ventures to address pay inequality, and support women founders in the United States.
Bill and Melinda Gates met at a Microsoft conference and married in 1994. They had three children and divorced in 2021. Together, they founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which has become the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation. The foundation focuses on five major programmatic areas that include: the Global Health, Global Development, Global Growth & Opportunity, United States, and Global Policy & Advocacy. In 2006, the Gates Foundation formed a $150 million partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, and received a multi-year pledge from Warren Buffett to give over 10 million of his company’s shares to the Gates Foundation. They later created The Giving Pledge, which signified a commitment to donating at least half of their wealth to charity over the course of their lifetime.