Global Strategy Lead at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Speaks to Interns

Global Strategy Lead at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Speaks to Interns

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Maha Neouchy
June 24, 2013

TWC was pleased to welcome Dr. Nicole Bates, global strategy lead for Vaccines and Child Health Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She brought a wealth of knowledge to the Blinken Auditorium on Monday, June 24th, discussing the impact of real strategic alliances and the roadmap of how an organization, foundation or company goes about achieving their philanthropic goals.


Making a Big Impact Globally


Dr. Bates began the Roundtable on Civil Society and Social Responsibility by discussing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and their "belief that everyone deserves to live a happy, productive life…while examining how social responsibility, civil society and philanthropy come together." She took summer 2013 interns through her own life experiences, both personal and professional, as well as through practical applications that can aid in creating and bringing about social change. Of all of the advice and methods she provided students with, she made sure to remind everyone that, " You don't have to work in the private sector to have a big impact."


Summer 2013 Interns Find Out What It Takes to Save the World


John Faircloth, Political Leadership intern and student at Belmont University, is extremely interested in the topic of coalitions. He asked Dr. Bates "What sort of issues stop coalitions and people form working together to achieve certain goals?" She responded that, "Coalition building is incredibly difficult because it is hard to remove people from their personal interests and work collaboratively to achieve a higher-order goal. Personality can definitely bring a coalition down since when it comes to civil society, a lot of advocates can be incredibly passionate."


William Uditsky, Business and Global Trade intern and student at Cabrini College, noticed that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a mission and values that are very similar with those of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He asked if Dr. Bates could shed some light on why. Bates shared that, "The Gates Foundation targets its efforts on the poorest sections of the world. We're looking to make the biggest impact and since the MDGs aim for a similar goals, our efforts are very similar."


Working in a philanthropic field is becoming much more desirable, especially for Jobine Jacob, Political Leadership intern and student at Arcadia University. He shared that one of his "ultimate goals is to become a philanthropist" and asked Dr. Bates about the challenges the foundation faces geo-politically. She shared that geo-political issues are very interesting and complex. She said, "What we always need to think about is if we go into a foreign country, should we do it with a Western face? A lot of foreign leaders and governments do not want organizations like UNICEF entering their countries because they represent the West. It's all about local validation. Even if we finance a mission, we don't necessarily need to be the face of that mission."


Conor Bronsdon, Political Leadership intern and student at the University of Washington in Seattle, asked Dr. Bates, "What challenges do you believe the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have to deal with and how does the organization plan to overcome them?" She responded by sharing that the Gates' agenda is global. "We have to think about what local communities and the American government wants and always need to address a certain degree of tension. We have to be very responsible when it comes to what we want to do."


Margaret Mulkerrin, Political Leadership intern and student at Wake Forest University, was interested about how the foundation allocates funds. She asked Dr. Bates if the foundation has a "specific formula for making decisions about where grants go?" She said that it is up to the co-chairs: "We are always working on Bill Gates' top two priorities and the decision-making process is done at a higher institution level. We have to ask ourselves about the places we are going to invest and when it does not work, to not be afraid about changing course. At the end of the day, big risks equal big rewards."


A Special Thanks


TWC would like to thank Dr. Bates for speaking to our summer 2013 students about how she dedicates her life to impacting the world globally through her efforts at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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