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17 Wealthy Families, Individuals Sign Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge

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Seventeen individuals and families have joined the Giving Pledge since June 2015, bringing the current total of signatories to 154 from 16 countries.

The Giving Pledge, a multigenerational, global initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, encourages billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

“This new group joining the Giving Pledge is incredibly thoughtful about their desire to give back and help solve the world’s toughest challenges through philanthropy,” Bill Gates said in a statement.

“Some have been giving for decades and others are just starting out after building successful businesses, but they all see the value of giving in a bold and effective way. Melinda, Warren and I are glad to have the opportunity to learn with them and from them.”

The new signatories include entrepreneurs and business leaders from diverse backgrounds and sectors, including technology, medicine and biotech, real estate and dairy farming. They support a range of causes, including poverty alleviation, health care, education and environmental protection.

Following are brief profiles of the individuals and families who have joined the growing list of pledgers:

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. (Photo: AP)

Margaret and Sylvan Adams, Israel

Sylvan Adams is the former the chief executive and shareholder of Iberville Developments, a Montreal-based property development and administration enterprise with more than 100 projects in Canada and the U.S. 

HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud, Saudi Arabia

Prince Alwaleed over four decades has built up his business interests from his home country into a global network and partner of many of the world’s leading companies. He founded Alwaleed Philanthropies in 1980 to help build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come. The foundation’s priority areas are empowering women and youth, developing communities, creating cultural understanding and providing disaster relief. The foundation has initiated and supported thousands of projects in some 120 countries.

Marc and Lynne Benioff. (Photo: AP)

Lynne and Marc Benioff, U.S.

Marc Benioff is chairman and chief executive of Salesforce, the Fortune 500 software company he founded in 1999. Through Salesforce’s 1-1-1 model of philanthropy, the company and its philanthropic entities have provided more than $120 million in grants, dedicated 1.4 million hours of volunteer time throughout the world and powered more than 28,000 nonprofits with Salesforce technology.

Lynne Benioff is an independent marketing consultant and philanthropist, who was appointed to the board of directors of the Presidio Trust by President Barack Obama. She also serves on the boards of Hampton Creek, the University of California San Francisco Foundation, the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and Common Sense Media. 

Nathan and Elizabeth Blecharczyk, U.S.

Dr. Elizabeth Morey Blecharczyk is a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of the Academic Pediatric Association and the Society of Hospital Medicine. She currently serves on the board of advisors at Tufts University School of Medicine and the board of trustees at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

Nathan Blecharczyk is the co-founder and chief technical officer at Airbnb.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky. (Photo: AP)

Brian Chesky, U.S.

Brian Chesky is the co-founder and chief executive of Airbnb. 

Scott Cook and Signe Ostby, U.S.

While working at Bain & Co, Scott Cook initiated a software project that grew into Quicken and was used to start the business and financial management solutions company Intuit 33 years ago. He serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble, Intuit and Harvard Business School.

Signe Ostby started her career at Procter & Gamble, and in 1982 joined a West Coast startup software company at which she ran marketing and customer support. Later, she developed a high-tech marketing consulting business. She serves on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund and the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

Henry Engelhardt is the founder and chief executive of Admiral Group. (Photo: YouTube)

Jack and Laura Dangermond, U.S.

Jack and Laura Dangermond in 1969 founded Esri, which created geographic information system (GIS) and geodesign technologies that are used by organizations representing government, nongovernmental organizations, academia and industries such as utilities, health care, transportation, telecommunications, homeland security, retail and agriculture. 

Henry Engelhardt and Diane Briere de l’Isle-Engelhardt, Wales

Henry Engelhardt recently retired as chief executive of Admiral Group plc, a FTSE 100 car insurance and price comparison company in the U.K., and now with operations in Spain, Italy, France and the U.S.

Diane Briere de l’Isle-Engelhardt spends most of her time with Moondance, the family’s charitable foundation, which she started with her husband in 2010. Her primary philanthropic interests revolve around women and children’s rights and safety. In 2013, she created Resolve It, a company that offers the Urban Survival Tool Kit, which teaches awareness, avoidance, conflict resolution and self-defense skills.  

Joe Gebbia, U.S.

Joe Gebbia is a co-founder and the chief product officer at Airbnb. He serves on the board of trustees of the Rhode Island School of Design from which he earned dual degrees.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the chairwoman and managing director of Biocon. (Photo: AP)

Sir Tom and Lady Marion Hunter, U.K.

Tom Hunter’s first business grew to become the independent sports retailer Sports Division. After he sold the business in 1998, he established a private equity business, West Coast Capital, and a philanthropy, The Hunter Foundation. THF formed a joint venture with former president Bill Clinton, the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative, to support delivery of a sustainable poverty alleviation strategy in Rwanda with economic development as its key driver. Sir Tom sits on the Presidential Advisory Council of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. He was knighted in 2005 for services to entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2013. 

Marion Hunter helped develop Sports Division. As co-founder of THF, she oversees investment strategy and volunteers on a number of charitable efforts.

Robert and Arlene Kogod, U.S.

Robert and Arlene Kogod are active philanthropic supporters of health care, education, the fine arts and other cultural activities, and they collect 20th century American fine arts and turn-of-the-century decorative arts. Bob Kogod is former co-chairman and co-chief executive of the Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty LP and Charles E. Smith Residential Realty Inc. Arlene Kogod is a former mental health and youth counselor who supports opportunities for young people, including a college-bound program for at-risk adolescent girls. 

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, India

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the chairwoman and managing director of Biocon, a leading Asian biopharmaceuticals enterprise. She has been listed among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, was recently featured in Scientific American magazine’s Worldview 100 List of the most influential visionaries, and ranked No. 2 on The Medicine Maker Power List 2015, an index of the 100 most influential people across the globe in the field of medicine. She is also recipient of India’s national awards Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.

PNC Menon is chairman and founder of Sobha Group. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

PNC and Sobha Menon, United Arab Emirates

India-born PNC Menon is chairman and founder of Sobha Group, a multinational real estate development and construction group. Sobha, which is named after his wife, was established in Oman in 1976 as an interior design firm under the name Services & Trade Co. Since then, the company has evolved to become one of the largest real estate organizations in India and the Middle East.

Gary K. Michelson, M.D., U.S.

Gary K. Michelson, an orthopedic surgeon, spent two decades developing new implants, spinal surgical procedures and the instruments required to carry out those procedures. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011 and the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. In 2008, Paralyzed Veterans of America recognized him as the leading research scientist in the area of spine. In 2015, he was awarded the Alfred B. Sabin Humanitarian Award, and received the International Achievement Award of B’nai B’rith. He founded, funded and continues to fund and direct three private foundations: The Michelson Medical Research Foundation, The Found Animals Foundation and Twenty Million Minds.

Niu Gensheng, CEO and executive director of China Mengniu Dairy Co. (Photo: AP)

Niu Gensheng, China

Niu Gensheng is the founder of Mengniu Group, a Mongolian dairy company. With his family, he started the private the Lao Niu Foundation, and under his influence, the family established the Laoniu Brother & Sister Foundation. He currently serves as vice president of the China Charity Forum and vice director of The Nature Conservancy China Council. For his philanthropic work, he received two China Charity Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Special Achievement Award. He also received the prestigious Oak Leaf Award from TNC and the Charity Excellence Award from the Committee of 100 in the U.S. 

Liz Simons and Mark Heising, U.S.

Liz Simons is chair of the board of the Heising-Simons Foundation. A former teacher, she founded Stretch to Kindergarten, an early childhood education program. She serves on the leadership council of Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Opportunity Institute and the Clinton Foundation, and on the boards of the Foundation for a Just Society and Math for America.

Mark Heising is founder and a managing director of the San Francisco investment firm Medley Partners. Earlier, he worked as a chip design engineer before founding VLSI Cores, which designed and licensed cryptographic integrated circuits. His philanthropic interests are primarily in climate change policy and the physical sciences. He serves on the boards of the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Heising-Simons Foundation. 

Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim, U.S.

Herbert Wertheim is a clinician, researcher, educator, entrepreneur and founder of Brain Power Inc., the manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments and chemicals. He has been recognized and honored by many organizations and major institutions for his 50 years of medical and scientific leadership and his many discoveries, including more than 100 patents and trademarks.

The Wertheim family’s foundation has funded hundreds of domestic and foreign charities and organizations since it was established almost 40 years ago. These include establishment of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and major funding for The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University. The foundation’s newest project is the $300 million University of Florida collaborative initiative Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the soon-to-be-completed Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence.

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