This is my first blog post as the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – and I want to use it to share another “first”: my first all-employee meeting.
I am inspired by the accomplishments we heard about at the Annual Employee Meeting. Our grantees are working every day to advance the core principle that all lives have equal value.We were fortunate to have a small group of grantees join us at our Annual Employee Meeting, which we hold in Seattle every May. This was one of my first opportunities to hear from and interact with grantees since I joined the foundation in the beginning of May, and it was very inspiring.
Diane Tavenner’s story about her Summit Public Schools initiative was particularly powerful, and I don’t just say that out of a residual fondness for all things California. Diane and her team have built a network of public charter schools that give students of all income levels access to an excellent education. She was candid about the difficulty of her work, and the depth of her commitment – a commitment we are proud to share with her.
The foundation’s Mariam Claeson had an onstage conversation with Wuleta Betemariam about L10K, a remarkable initiative we are supporting in Ethiopia. L10K stands for “Last 10 Kilometers,” in reference to the fact that half of Ethiopia’s population lives 10 kilometers (roughly six miles) or more from a health-care facility. L10K expands and strengthens the links between health-extension networks and rural villages, significantly improving access to maternal, reproductive and child health care.
Then there was the showing of a short but very powerful video: “The Last Polio Ward in India.” As a cancer researcher, I often said that my ultimate goal was to put myself out of business. To hear Dr. Mathew Varghese at St. Stephen’s Hospital in Delhi say something similar about polio was deeply moving.
I am inspired by the accomplishments we heard about at the Annual Employee Meeting. Our grantees are working every day to advance the core principle that all lives have equal value.
We have a lot of work to do, but this event was an inspiring reminder of the remarkable progress we are making. I look forward to learning more and working together toward our shared mission.