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Mara French, P.O. Box 1109, Sutter Creek, CA 95685-1109. 209-267-0649

Famous Frenches

Melinda Ann French

Last updated by Mara French on 4/6/08. Send corrections or additions to Mara French.


Melinda at Microsoft; Persons of the Year, 2005; Melinda at Duke University

Wife of Bill Gates, Microsoft

Wife of Bill Gates, she joined Microsoft in 1987, serving as both product manager and general manager. She now works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. On September 30, 1996, Melinda French Gates, a member of the MBA Class of 1987, was named to the Duke Board of Trustees, the University's chief governing board. The following article, reprinted from Duke's Dialogue newspaper, followed the announcement.

Gates Joins Trustees
Duke alumna starts term in December
Duke alumna and businesswoman Melinda French Gates of Medina, Wash., has been elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees, officials announced Monday. She will join the 37-member board at its December meeting, filling the five-year term left vacant when Rex Adams accepted the deanship of Duke's Fuqua School of Business.

The election occurred Saturday at the conclusion of the board's annual fall meeting. Trustee Chairman John A. Koskinen said Gates will bring many strengths to the board.

"Melinda French Gates is knowledgeable about technology - she's an experienced businesswoman - and has strong interests in instructional technology and the use of computers across the university," he said. "I am especially pleased that Ms. Gates is from an area of the country of growing importance to Duke and its alumni."

Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane said Gates "also brings to the board the perspective of a younger alumna at a time when we are making concerted efforts to reach out to the alumni who have graduated since 1980 and who comprise a very large proportion of our alumni base. Melinda Gates will bring valuable insight to our board, and I look forward to working with her."


Born and raised in Dallas, Gates earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke in 1986 and an M.B.A. form The Fuqua School of Business in 1987. While an undergraduate, Gates served on the Freshman Advisory Council, was named to the Dean's List and led tours of the campus for prospective students. She also was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She has been an active alumna since her graduation, returning to Duke in both personal and professional capacities. From 1988-91, she served on the Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee.


Born 15 August 1964 in Dallas, Dallas Co., Texas.

Parents: Raymond Joseph French, Jr. (an engineer) and Elaine Agnes Amerland French.

MotherŐs maiden name is Amerland (from Germany).

Raymond Joseph French, Jr.Ős father was Raymond Joseph French, Sr., b. 14 Feb 1908 and d. Dec 1980 in Kenner, Jefferson Co., LA.

She is the second of five children born, one b: 15 Nov 1967 in Dallas Co., TX. Not much else was found because of a privacy issue.

Occupation: Philanthropist

Valedictoriam of her class at Ursuline Academy of Dallas (all-girls Catholic academy)

Duke University, 1986 BS in computer science and economics and an MBA from Duke in 1987, and served as a member of the Duke University's Board of Trustees from 1996-2003.

Married 1 Jan 1994 to Microsoft founder, chairman and CEO Bill Gates in Hawaii. He was b. 28 Oct 1955 in Seattle, King Co., WA.

Jennifer Katherine (b. 26 April 1996)
Rory John Gates (b. 23 May1999)
Phoebe Adele Gates (b. 2002).

Co-Founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda French Gates was elected to the board September 9, 2004

Along with her husband, Melinda Gates is co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to improve people's lives by bringing advances in health and learning to those who need them most.

In her role with the foundation, Melinda Gates works with local, national, and international partners and foundation grantees to further the foundation's goal of improving equity in four areas: global health, education, access to digital information via public libraries and support for at-risk families in Washington State and Oregon.

Gates received a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and a master's in business administration from Duke's Fuqua School of Business in 1987.

After joining Microsoft Corporation in 1987, she distinguished herself in business as a leader in the development of many of Microsoft's multimedia products. In 1996, Gates retired from her position as Microsoft's General Manager of Information Products. Since then she has directed her energy toward the non-profit world. In addition to her role with the foundation, she is a former member of the board of trustees of Duke University and is a former co-chair of the Washington State Governor's Commission on Early Learning. She also serves on the board of directors of

Bill and Melinda Gates live in Medina, Washington, near Seattle. They have three children.


1. The Washington Post Company (2005). The Washington Post Company - History & Leadership - Biography: Melinda French Gates. Retrieved March 6, 2006.

2. (2005). - Officers & Directors. Retrieved March 6, 2006.

3. Bill and Melinda Gates named in Top 10 Persons of 2006, Retrieved May 9, 2006

4. Wikipedia Encyclopedia