Photo: Sue Desmond-Hellmann gives a speech at the 2012 Most Powerful Women Summit. Source: Krista Kennell / Shutterstock
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is stepping down after serving more than five years in the leadership role. According to a press release published on the foundation’s website, Desmond-Hellmann made the decision after concluding that she could not adequately fulfill the demands of the job while taking care of her own health and the needs of her family.
“This was without doubt the toughest decision of my career,” Desmond-Hellmann said. “But I felt I could no longer be the CEO the foundation needs and deserves at this vital time.”
Both Bill and Melinda Gates released statements praising Desmond-Hellmann for her contributions.
“Sue brought an incredible set of attributes to the foundation: scientific expertise, tested leadership skills, a passion for building a strong internal culture, and, above all, a dedication to the mission of making the world a healthier, more equal place,” Melinda Gates said. “Whether we were sitting in a conference room in Seattle or spending time with farmers in southern Africa, I was always grateful for her perspective and her partnership. Our foundation is better for the fact that Sue walked through its doors five years ago, and I wish Sue and her family all the best.”
“Sue’s commitment to innovation and continuous improvement at the foundation will be just a part of her enduring legacy,” Bill Gates said. “Her extraordinary leadership over the past five and a half years has seen both the launch of the Gates Medical Research Institute and the expansion of our work to examine poverty and economic mobility in the United States, among many other achievements. I want to personally thank Sue for her dedication, and to wish her the very best as she steps away to focus on health and family.”
Mark Suzman, the foundation’s president of Global Policy & Advocacy and chief strategy officer, has been appointed the new CEO.
“It is an incredible honor and privilege to lead the Gates Foundation,” Suzman said. “I’m deeply grateful to Bill and Melinda for their faith in me and to Sue for her dedicated leadership and strong mentorship over the past five years. As we look ahead, I’m humbled and excited by the opportunity to advance our important mission to help ensure everyone in the U.S. and around the world has the chance to lead a healthy and productive life.”