Bill and Melinda Gates are reportedly discussing changes to their foundation’s leadership, after disclosing earlier this month that they are getting a divorce.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the philanthropists are talking over changes to the structure of their eponymous foundation to create more governance and independence.
The duo is reportedly contemplating establishing a board and adding outside investors, two people familiar with the matter told the Journal.
Melinda Gates had reportedly been advocating for governance changes amid their divorce to protect the future stability of the foundation.
The news comes less than a month after the pair announced that they are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
In identical tweets posted to their Twitter accounts, the couple said “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.”
The duo said that they will “continue our work together at the foundation.”
After news of the divorce was revealed, a Gates Foundation spokeswoman said the pair would still be co-chairs and trustees of the foundation, and would work together to shape and approve the organization’s strategies and overall direction, the Journal reported.
Mark Suzman, CEO of the foundation, said in a statement to The Hill that he told employees last week that he is actively discussing with the Gates' steps they and Warren Buffett, a foundation trustee and mega-donor, may take to “strengthen the long-term sustainability and stability of the foundation given the co-chairs’ divorce.”
He cautioned, however, that, “No decisions have been made.”
“Bill and Melinda have reaffirmed their commitment to the foundation and continue to work together on behalf of our mission. These discussions are part of their prudent planning for the future,” he added.
Suzman oversees day-to-day operations at the foundation while Bill and Melinda Gates, as co-chairs and trustees, supervise the foundation’s work and how it is run, the Journal noted.
Buffett is also a trustee and weighs in on central foundation circumstances, the newspaper added.
Sources told the Journal that leaders at the foundation are looking for ways to protect the organization’s reputation and work following the announcement of the couple's split. Namely, some Gates Foundation grant recipients have asked questions regarding Bill Gates’s potential ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
A spokeswoman said Bill Gates met with Epstein for philanthropy reasons and now regrets doing so, according to the Journal.
The Journal reported in a separate article this month that Melinda Gates met with divorce lawyers in 2019 following reports of links between her husband and Epstein, according to sources close to the situation and documents the newspaper obtained.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been especially prominent over the past year, as it played an active role in the battle against COVID-19. The organization committed hundreds of millions of dollars toward the development and distribution of coronavirus tests, treatments and vaccines.