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Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which strives to improve global health and education.
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Melinda Gates was born on August 15, 1964, in Dallas, Texas. She took a job at Microsoft Corporation in 1987 and married her boss, Bill Gates, in 1994. That year, she and her husband co-founded what was later to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2006 she restructured the organization. In 2012 she pledged $560 million toward improving access to contraception for women in poor countries.
"I felt that I had a role to give some voice to the voiceless."
"If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped."
"Every now and then I look at my friends and say 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone.'"
Melinda Gates was born Melinda Ann French on August 15, 1964, in Dallas, Texas. She has three siblings: one older sister and two younger brothers. Melinda's father, Ray French, was an aerospace engineer during her upbringing, while her mother, Elaine French, was a stay-at-home mom.
Elaine, who wished she had gone to college, placed a strong emphasis on her children's higher education. To that end, the family spent weekends maintaining their rental properties as a means of earning the children's tuition.
Melinda developed an early interest in computers while taking an advanced math class at the Ursuline Academy, a Catholic school for girls. She went on to pursue this interest in college, earning a bachelor's degree in computer science from Duke University in 1986. The following year, she obtained a master's in business administration, with a focus in economics, from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
Melinda took a job at Microsoft Corporation in 1987. She started out as product manager, primarily developing multimedia and interactive products. Over the course of her nine years working for Microsoft, Melinda worked her way up to general manager of information products. The products she worked on included the budget trip-planning website Expedia, the interactive movie guide Cinemania and the multimedia digital encyclopedia Encarta.
In 1987 Melinda first met her new boss, Bill Gates, at a PC trade show in Manhattan. She found his sense of humor surprising and refreshing within the context of the corporate climate of the times. When he eventually asked her out with a couple of weeks' notice, she initially was put off by his over-planning but soon realized his busy schedule made spontaneity difficult. Accepting this, she agreed to a date.
The couple dated for six years before Bill proposed to Melinda. In 1994, the two were wed on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Melinda gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Jennifer Katharine Gates, in 1996. At that time, she decided to leave her job at Microsoft so she could focus on child rearing and philanthropic efforts. Melinda and Bill would go on to have two more children: a boy named Rory John and a girl named Phoebe Adele.
In 1994, Melinda and Bill Gates, along with Bill's father, started the William H. Gates Foundation. In 1999 the couple combined the William H. Gates Foundation with two of their other charitable organizations, the Gates Library Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation. They renamed the newly blended charity the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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