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Event Summary

Effective philanthropy is driven by three questions — why, what, and how? AEI President Arthur Brooks was joined by Melinda Gates for a discussion about how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation answers these questions in their efforts to solve major public health and education challenges around the globe.

Ms. Gates discussed her and her husband’s initial foray into philanthropy and the guiding principle of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — that all lives have equal value no matter where they are lived. The foundation pursues this guiding principle with a commitment to technology, innovation, data, collaboration, and the notion that human beings can change the world for the better.

Dr. Brooks and Ms. Gates discussed how the foundation learns from its successes and failures, works with private enterprise and government to increase access to vaccines in the developing world, and empowers women and girls to improve their health and the health of their families. The event concluded with Ms. Gates encouraging the audience to find their passions and use their resources to improve the lives of others.
— Spencer Moore

Event Description

Since 1990, more than one billion people have escaped extreme poverty worldwide. We are within striking distance of eradicating four diseases entirely, including polio. Deaths of children under age five have been cut in half. US international leadership and innovation have been central to this story.

Melinda Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, describes herself as an “impatient optimist.” But is optimism for further progress justified? Innovation has changed many lives, but ensuring that it reaches those in greatest need remains difficult.

How can better data help policies and programs reach the most vulnerable and, specifically, help address the barriers women and girls still face in many developing countries? Do aid and development effectively complement private-sector growth and trade, the proven engines of global growth and prosperity? How can we build on success and address persistent challenges?

Join AEI President Arthur Brooks and Melinda Gates as they discuss new ideas to maximize human potential and the Gates Foundation’s efforts to meet the challenges facing the world’s poor.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:45 AM

10:00 AM
Conversation and Q&A

Arthur C. Brooks, AEI
Melinda Gates, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

11:00 AM

Speaker Biographies

Melinda Gates is cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Along with Bill, she shapes and approves the foundation’s strategies, reviews results, and sets the overall direction of the organization. Together, they meet with grantees and partners to further the foundation’s goal of improving equity in the United States and around the world. Through her work at the foundation over the last 15 years, Ms. Gates has seen firsthand that empowering women and girls can bring transformational improvements in the health and prosperity of families, communities, and societies. In 2012, she spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning, which adopted the goal of delivering contraceptives to an additional 120 million women in developing countries by 2020. Her work has led her to increasingly focus on gender equity as a path to meaningful change. Ms. Gates received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and a master’s in business administration from the Fuqua School of Business in 1987. After joining Microsoft Corp. that year, she distinguished herself as a leader in the development of multimedia products and was later appointed Microsoft’s general manager of information products. In 1996, she left Microsoft to focus on her philanthropic work and family.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI and the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 11 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His books include “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America” (Broadside Books, 2015), “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice Hall, 2008), and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Dr. Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

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