Melinda French Gates, a philanthropist, businesswoman, and global advocate for women and girls, will deliver the 2024 Commencement address at Stanford University.

French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of Pivotal Ventures, will address graduates and guests attending the university’s 133rd Commencement ceremony, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, June 16, in Stanford Stadium.

“As a businesswoman and philanthropist, Melinda French Gates has worked to increase access to opportunity, advance equity, and accelerate social progress. She is a champion for women and girls, and she has shown how empowering them can transform families, communities, and institutions,” said Stanford President Richard Saller. “Melinda’s unique insights will encourage our graduates to center human values as they leave Stanford to forge their own paths.”

French Gates, who oversees strategy and sets the direction for the one of the world’s most influential foundations, has dedicated her life to fighting disease and inequality, with a focus on putting more women in positions of power.

In her best-selling book, The Moment of Lift, she writes about the inspiring women around the globe whom she has met through her work and travel, and describes her path to becoming an advocate for women and girls. In 2015, she founded Pivotal Ventures, a company working to accelerate the pace of social progress in the United States.

“We are grateful and thrilled to have Melinda French Gates as Stanford’s 2024 Commencement speaker,” said senior class presidents Hannah Basali, Michael Chhay, Easha Nandyala, and Jack Scala, who worked with the Office of the President to select her as speaker. “Melinda personifies philanthropy through her humanitarian work as the co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to enhance health care, expand educational opportunities, and reduce extreme poverty across the world. Her inspiring work as the founder of Pivotal Ventures expands opportunity and accelerates equality in the United States through impactful investment, partnerships, and advocacy. Each of Melinda French Gates’ ventures encourages us to approach issues through innovative solutions. We are excited to welcome Melinda French Gates to campus to provide our student body with valuable insight on how to give back to our communities through diverse courses of action.”

A native of Dallas, Texas, she holds two degrees from Duke University: a bachelor’s in computer science and economics, and a master’s in business administration. After spending the first decade of her career developing multimedia products at Microsoft, she left the company to focus on her family and philanthropy. She has three children, including a Stanford alum and a member of Stanford’s Class of 2024. Her father is also a Stanford graduate.

“Stanford University holds a special place in my family’s heart, and I am so honored to be invited to join the Class of 2024 in celebrating all they have learned and gained from their time at this incredible institution,” said French Gates. “This accomplished, conscientious, and courageous class has many wonderful things ahead of them, and I look forward to getting to be there with their families and loved ones as they prepare to close this chapter and set their intentions for the next one.”

The Commencement ceremony is part of a weekend-long celebration June 13-16 for graduates, family members, friends, and members of the Stanford community. The event is open to the public. For more information, visit the Commencement Weekend website.