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June 19, 2007

Musical chairs in the philanthropy world

Posted by Kristi Heim at 12:39 PM

We knew about big changes going on over at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but it's getting hard to keep track of all the comings and goings.

The Gates Foundation hired a new communications director, Heidi Sinclair, a Seattle native who is currently president and CEO of PR firm Burson-Marsteller in Europe. In September, Sinclair will start to oversee the foundation's communications strategy and act as senior adviser to Bill and Melinda Gates.

Her past positions include vice president of corporate strategy at software company Borland, hardly Microsoft's biggest fan. Back then Sinclair complained Microsoft was stifling competition.

"Microsoft resembles the IBM of yore: the 800-lb. gorilla that sits anywhere it wants," she said in a 1993 Time magazine article.

She's not the only one swapping seats. Senior policy officer Monica Harrington will leave the foundation this month to work with NGOs on innovation initiatives and help build a new online photo editing service called picnik.com.

Two figures in the Seattle philanthropy scene recently moved to Google.
Jacquelline Fuller, former deputy director of the global health program at the Gates Foundation, is now leading Google.org's advocacy efforts.

And Blaise Judja-Sato, founder of Seattle-based non-profit VillageReach, is now working on global economic development at Google.org.

Incidentally, Gates' recent commencement address puzzled Harvard economics professor Robert Barro, who argues Microsoft provides more benefit to society than the charitable foundation.

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