Originally published August 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Page modified August 25, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Gates Foundation announces departure of key executive

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of Global Development Program, leaving Gates Foundation after 10 years.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that Sylvia Mathews Burwell plans to leave the world's largest philanthropy after a decade to be closer to aging parents.

Burwell has been the foundation's president of the Global Development Program since 2006 and served as chief operating officer from 2001 to 2006.

"Sylvia's done a great job of helping us build a world-class organization and created a transformative grantmaking program that is helping millions of poor people around the world," Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in a statement. "She put our global development work on a path to success, and we look forward to building on it."

"While we are sorry to see her go, Bill, Jeff [Raikes, foundation chief executive] and I all support her need to move closer to aging parents as her young children grow and wish her the best of luck in the next phase of her career," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, in the same statement. "Her dedication to the world's most vulnerable will be her lasting legacy at the foundation."

Burwell, a former deputy chief of staff to President Clinton, helped manage the growth of the foundation from its startup stage, to a major global operation. During her tenure the foundation's grantmaking grew by 40 percent, to $1.5 billion per year, while staff grew by 50 percent, to 350, according to the foundation. During her tenure as president of the Global Development Program, she designed and led the foundation's strategies to improve the lives of millions of the world's poorest people, and laid a foundation for long-term impact and advocacy, the foundation said.

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