Bill Gates has appointed a health expert as CEO of his foundation in an effort to better understand the needs of those they serve around the world.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has named University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Chancellor and oncologist Susan Desmond-Hellmann as only their second CEO.
She takes over from Jeff Raikes, who came to the post from Microsoft and has headed the foundation for the past five years. He resigned in September of 2013.
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda said Desmond-Hellmann is the obvious choice because of her background in the medical field, which will help them move their foundation’s path into the future.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation said:
“We chose Sue because of her scientific knowledge and deep technical expertise on the foundation’s issues, as well as the organizational and leadership skills required to lead a large, growing and dynamic global organization. Sue shares our commitment and passion to create a more equitable world.”
Bill Gates established the foundation with the belief that every life has equal value and it works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.
In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty, the statement reads.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also operates in the US, and “seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”
Susan Desmond-Hellmann acknowledged her new title in the statement that read:
“I am honored by the opportunity that Bill and Melinda have extended to me. I’m excited to join such a dynamic and ambitious organization, with such a clear and focused mission—improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable.”
Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation also commented on Ms. Desmond-Hellmann’s appointment, saying:
“Sue’s background in public health policy, research and development, and higher education, make her an exceptional fit for this role. She impressed us as an innovator and an outstanding leader and manager.”
Desmond-Hellmann is a recognized leader on issues of higher education, public health, drug development, regulatory innovation, and health policy.
She has led UCSF since August 2009, when she became the first woman to serve as the university’s chancellor, overseeing all aspects of the university and medical center’s strategy, academic programs, and operations.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dates from 1997, and started as a way to give back to the community. But in the early 2000s, they realized there were millions of children in need of medical assistance all over the world. Now, the foundation has access to a $40 billion endowment to help the less privileged.