Melinda French Gates received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University and a master’s in business administration from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. After joining Microsoft Corp. in 1987, Gates distinguished herself in business as a leader in the development of many of Microsoft’s multimedia products. In more recent years, she has directed her energy toward the nonprofit world.
She is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she works to advance the foundation’s goal of ensuring that every person has a chance to live a healthy, productive life. In 2007, the foundation joined with The Duke Endowment to establish a $30 million endowment to launch DukeEngage, which has become one of the university’s signature programs.
DukeEngage provides funding for Duke undergraduates who wish to pursue an immersive service experience by meeting a community need locally, domestically or internationally. Since the program began, more than 1,400 Duke students have participated.
In addition to her role with the foundation, Gates is a former member of the board of trustees of Duke University and a former co-chair of the Washington State Governor’s Commission on Early Learning. Time Magazine named her, along with the singer Bono and her husband Bill Gates, as its persons of the year in 2005.