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CEO Jeff Raikes Retiring from Gates Foundation

Nati Harnik
Associated Press

The nation’s largest charitable foundation has a job opening. CEO Jeff Raikesannounced Tuesday morningthat he’ll be stepping down after five years of running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Raikes started out as a Nebraska farm boy, and built a long career at Microsoft before transitioning to the Gates Foundation in 2008. He took over an organization ballooning in size, and he said one of his legacies is helping organize the foundation to support its enormous ambitions.

“A big responsibility I had was to help us work together better, to put in place the strategy approach, financial systems, the human resource systems that would raise the capability of the foundation,” Raikes told KPLU.

Rural Roots

Raikes said his roots on the farm have helped him connect with the rural people the foundation is trying to help. He remembers being struck by one family in Kenya who had sold off two of their three cows to fund a daughter’s education.

“Everywhere I went across Africa I saw that farmers, when they could have just a little bit of surplus, the first thing that they did was put that money into the education of their children,” he said.

Raikes said that showed him even a little bit of help could change people’s long-term prospects.

What’s Next

Raikes said he’ll carry that inspiration into his next undertakings, which will include teaching and ramping up his own family project, the Raikes Foundation, which focuses on youth and education.

Meanwhile he’ll stay on with the Gates Foundation until a successor is named. They plan to begin a search immediately.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.