MARCH 19, 2021

Bill Gates

Co-Chair / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Founder / Breakthrough Energy

Bill Gates, addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on Friday, March 19. The conversation was moderated by Club Director, Dr. Helene Gayle, President & CEO, The Chicago Community Trust. Mr. Gates discussed his upcoming new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, as well as other timely topics. 

Solving climate change would be “the most amazing thing humanity has ever done.”

Bill Gates on the importance of solving climate change.



Co-Chair / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Founder / Breakthrough Energy

Bill Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of Breakthrough Energy. In 1975, Bill Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen and led the company to become the worldwide leader in business and personal software and services. In 2008, Bill transitioned to focus full-time on his foundation’s work to expand opportunity to the world’s most disadvantaged people. Along with co-chair Melinda Gates, he leads the foundation’s development of strategies and sets the overall direction of the organization. At Breakthrough Energy, he’s putting his experience as an innovator and problem-solver to work to address climate change by supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, big thinkers, and clean technologies. Bill uses his experience partnering with global leaders across sectors to help drive the policy, market, and technological changes required for a clean energy transition. In 2010, Bill, Melinda, and Warren Buffett founded the Giving Pledge, an effort to encourage the wealthiest families and individuals to publicly commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropic causes and charitable organizations during their lifetime or in their will.


Dr. Helene D. Gayle

President & CEO / The Chicago Community Trust

Helene D. Gayle has been president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the
nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, since October 2017. Under her leadership,
the Trust has adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the
Chicago region.

For almost a decade, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international
humanitarian organization. An expert on global development, humanitarian and health issues,
she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She
worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other
global health issues. She also launched the McKinsey Social Initiative, a nonprofit that builds
partnerships for social impact.

Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard
College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University.
She has received 18 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of
Washington and Emory University.  She serves on public company and nonprofit boards,
including The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Go Health, Brookings
Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, ONE Campaign,
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Economic Club of Chicago. She is a member of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Health
Association, National Academy of Medicine, National Medical Association, and American
Academy of Pediatrics. She has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health
issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and social justice.


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