Leadership

William Gates Sr.

Co-chair

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To me, global poverty is a humanitarian issue. People are dying, and we can save them – and that ought to be enough.

William H. Gates Sr. guides the vision and strategic direction of the foundation and serves as an advocate for the foundation’s key issues. He first answered his son's request for help in using his resources to improve reproductive and child health in the developing world by directing the William H. Gates Foundation, which was established in 1994. It merged with the Gates Learning Foundation to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.

Gates earned his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Washington, following three years of U.S. Army service in World War II. A founding partner at Preston Gates & Ellis, Gates has served as president of both the Seattle/King County Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association. He has served as trustee, officer, and volunteer for more than two dozen Northwest organizations, including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and King County United Way. In 1995, he founded the Technology Alliance, a cooperative regional effort to expand technology-based employment in Washington. Gates also has been a strong advocate for education for many years, chairing the Seattle Public School Levy Campaign in 1971 and serving as a member of the University of Washington's Board of Regents from 1997-2012.

Gates and his late wife, Mary Maxwell Gates, raised three children: Kristianne, Bill, and Libby. Now married to Mimi Gardner Gates, Gates continues his lifelong commitment to many civic programs, cultural organizations, and business initiatives.

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