Melanie R. Brown

Deputy Director, Public Engagement & Insights
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melanie R. Brown is a global speaker and writer on philanthropy, gender and racial justice. She is currently the Deputy Director of Global Policy & Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

She began her career as an educator, teaching in Washington, D.C., Beijing, China and Hong Kong, before transitioning into philanthropy. With nearly 15 years of experience in the field, Melanie currently focuses on grantmaking that accelerates academic achievement for Black and Latinx students, including students of color with disabilities, advancing community organizing, leveraging the political power of Black women, advocating for Black women’s reproductive justice rights, disarming deficit narratives about Black men in the media, and most recently, increasing awareness of racial disparities in COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations.

Outside of her work at the Gates Foundation, Melanie is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics, where she investigates Black women’s intersectional leadership across the global philanthropic and charitable sectors. Through this work, Melanie has spoken to audiences in Oxford, UK, Cape Town, South Africa and Havana, Cuba.

In 2020, Melanie was named a BMe Vanguard Fellow, part of a network of leaders committed to centering discussions of racial equity on Black people’s aspirations and contributions.

Melanie is an adjunct professor at the American University School of Education and serves on the AU Alumni Association Board. She is on the board of directors for the Women’s Funding Network, the largest philanthropic network of foundations, funds and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls around the world.

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Melanie earned degrees from American, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon universities. She resides in Washington, D.C. You can learn more at Melanie and her work at