Keynote Presentation - Catalytic Philanthropy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
9:30 - 10:30am

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.  In developing countries, the focus is on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.  Catalytic philanthropy— investing philanthropic dollars to achieve measurable impact and catalyze systemic change to benefit the world’s poorest citizens— is the tool the Gates Foundation is using to make that happen.  In her keynote, Martha Choe will discuss her personal journey to the Gates Foundation and how she sees impact-driven philanthropy moving the needle and improving lives.

Martha Choe, CAO

As CAO, Martha Choe oversees Human Resources, Grantee Partnership, Enterprise Project Management, Security, and Global Workplace Resource operations teams at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Martha has responsibility for the foundation’s campus in the heart of Seattle. She is a member of the foundation’s management team. Choe joined the foundation in 2004 as the Director of the Global Libraries initiative in the foundation’s Global Development Program.

Before joining the foundation, Choe served as the director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, providing leadership for sustainable job growth throughout Washington State and promoting two-way trade in Asia and Europe. As CTED Director, she led trade missions to Asia, Mexico and Europe. Appointed by Governor Locke, Martha led a multi-jurisdictional team to develop and deliver a winning proposal (over 47 competing states) for the assembly of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner. Prior to that, Martha was elected to two four-year terms on the Seattle City Council and chaired the transportation and economic development and finance committees. During her terms, she led efforts to revitalize downtown Seattle, including the establishment of the Seattle Jobs Initiative.

Prior to public service, Choe was a vice president at the Bank of California Credit Administration, Commercial and Private Banking. She also taught high school in Eugene, Ore. Choe has a bachelor’s degree in speech and ethnic studies from the University of Washington and received her master’s in business administration from Seattle University. She has long been active in civic and Asian American organizations and serves on several boards including as former chair of the White House Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders. She currently serves on the boards of The Seattle Foundation, CRAFT3, Gates Cambridge Trust and the Seattle Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Martha was most recently honored with Seattle Business’ Lifetime Achievement Award and previously as Seattle University’s Alumni of the Year, by InterIm CDA with the Bob Santos Leadership in Sustainability Award and YMCA’s A.K. Guy Award.