Gates Foundation adds Zimbabwean, Three More to Board

In inaugural foundation annual letter, CEO Mark Suzman reflects on evolution of foundation’s governance and work to fight poverty, disease, and inequity globally

ADDIS ABABA – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has added four new members to its board of trustees including  Zimbabwean billionaire and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa.

The other three new board members are the foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman; the co-founder of Bridgespan Group, Thomas Tierney; and director of the London School of Economics Minouche Shafik.

The board members will work alongside Gates and French Gates, bringing independent and diverse perspectives to help strengthen the foundation’s governance.

Masiyiwa, chairman and founder of Econet Group, said he has worked with the Gates Foundation over the last 20 years.

“We have worked together to address global health crises like the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics. I am honored to join the co-chairs and the incredible team at the foundation in fighting disease and poverty throughout the world,” said the zambian billionaire.

CEO of the Gates Foundation Suzman announced the board members in the foundation’s inaugural annual letter.

The letter highlights the foundation’s efforts to fight poverty and disease; its goal of creating a better, fairer world; and its commitment to listening to diverse perspectives and deepening engagement with partners and communities where its work is focused.

This governance change comes after the death in late 2020 of Bill Gates Sr., Bill Gates’ father, an honorary co-chair, and a long-time guiding voice at the foundation, as well as the decision by Warren Buffett last year to step down as a trustee after nearly 15 years.

It also represents an explicit recognition by Gates and French Gates, especially in the wake of their recent divorce, that the foundation will be well served by the addition of independent voices to help shape its work in the future, the foundation said.

“We are honored that these three deeply knowledgeable and respected individuals have agreed to join the foundation board,” writes Suzman in the annual letter. “Between them, they bring an incredible track record of impact across global business, philanthropy, and development, and we couldn’t be more excited to work with them.”

In addition to introducing the new board members, Suzman discusses the foundation’s efforts to maximize its impact while ensuring that its work is increasingly inclusive.

That includes deepening engagement with developing country agencies and governments, establishing offices and growing its staff outside of the United States, and expanding grants to institutions closer to affected communities.

Suzman also emphasizes that in its next phase, the foundation will continue to prioritize areas where its resources and expertise will be most catalytic and to invest in higher-risk areas where it’s more difficult to deploy public resources, from funding innovative treatments for malaria to supporting cutting-edge disease modeling.

Board members serve three-year terms, with a two-consecutive-term limit.

“Our new board members are strong, qualified leaders who will support the foundation and its partners in our work to promote a healthier, safer, more equal world for all,” said Melinda French Gates.

“I am deeply proud of all that we have accomplished over the past two decades and energized to work with them to drive progress on some of the most important issues the world faces today,” she added.

Since its establishment 21 years ago, the foundation has provided more than $60 billion in grants, with the annual payout regularly increasing year over year.


Featured Image: Mark Suzman, CEO and board member of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visits the H3D Lab with Dr. Kelly Chibale in Cape Town, South Africa. [Photo Gates Archive/Jonathan Torgovnik]