The Current Event Club met Friday in the clubhouse at GlennPark for the beginning of this year’s study topic, “Notable Female Philanthropists.” There were 16 members present and Marilyn Mallott was hostess for the meeting.

After the business meeting Susan King, program committee member, introduced Linda Diehl, who presented the following program on Melinda Gates — Modern Day Philanthropist.

Melinda Gates was born Melinda Ann French on Aug. 15 1964, in Dallas, Texas, to Raymond French, an aerospace engineer, and Elaine French, a homemaker. Melinda has an older sister and two younger brothers.

Melinda became interested in computers during her senior year at the Ursiline Academy, an all girls Catholic high school in Dallas, where she graduated valedictorian in 1982. She went to Duke University in North Carolina to earn a BS degree in computer science and economics in 1986. A year later she earned an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

In 1987, Melinda accepted a position at Microsoft Corporation, as a product manager working to develop multimedia and interactive products. Melinda worked for Microsoft for nine years and became a general manager of information products.

Melinda and Bill Gates met while working at Microsoft. They dated for six years and married on Jan. 1, 1994, on the Hawaiian Island of Lanai. They have three children, Jenn, Rory and Phoebe. After the birth of their first child, Melinda left Microsoft to focus on raising her family and philanthropic work.

Melinda is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that began in 2000 by combining Bill’s father’s foundation, the William H. Gates Foundation, with the Gates Library Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation, creating an endowment of $17 billion. The initial goal was to place computers and Microsoft products in libraries across the United States. Over the years Melinda expanded the vision to improve education worldwide. The foundation also addresses global poverty and global health.

In 2006 Warren Buffett made a donation of $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This donation made the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the world’s largest private charitable foundation. The foundation has four parts, each focusing on something Melinda and Bill strongly believe in: global health, global development, global policy, and education and community issues in the United States.

Melinda is very focused on the health of women and children in third world countries. In 2012 Melinda pledged $560 million toward improving access to contraception for women in third world countries.

In 2015, Melinda created Pivotal Ventures as a separate independent organization to identify, help develop and implement innovative solutions to problems affecting U.S. women and families. Both philanthropic and investment capital are used to fund transformational ideas, people and organization.

April 2019, Melinda Gates became a first time author, with the release of “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.” Melinda believes that if you lift up women, you lift up humanity.

Oct. 2, 2019, Melinda announced she is committing $1 billion over the next 10 years to expanding women’s power and influence in the United States. Her company, Pivotal Ventures, will put resources behind new and established partners taking innovative and diverse approaches to expanding women’s power and influence.

The next meeting of the Current Event Club will be Nov. 8 at St. John United Church of Christ with Judy Dally hosting. Agnes McDonald will present the program.

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