Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, delivered the morning plenary address at the 2007 Annual Conference of the Council on Foundations and Philanthropy Northwest. Gates opened with an anecdote about her then three-year old child struggling to tie her shoes saying "it’s difficult … I like difficult." She tied this theme to the rest of her speech in which she humbly described the Gates Foundation as a young, developing organization constantly learning and making mistakes as it tries to address some of the major social problems facing our world today.
This was my first opportunity to hear Gates speak, and I was impressed with her sincerity, her humility, her ambition, and her optimism. Perhaps her address did not offer much in the way of how foundations should operate, but that’s not where her or her foundation’s strengths are … for the moment. Instead, she spoke of how the Gates Foundation has been evolving, the collaborations with the private and public sectors that are required for effectively addressing social ills, and the hopefulness of dramatic changes in our generation’s lifetime.
Hopefully, you’ll soon see the transcript of her speech on the Gates Foundation website. You’ll see additional posts about the Conference over the next few days.