The Dallas Morning News Names 2020 Texan of the Year

Her work is helping beat COVID-19, eradicating preventable disease, fighting poverty and empowering women

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The Dallas Morning News has named Melinda Gates the 2020 Texan of the Year for her work championing philanthropy that changes lives around the world as
co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This year alone, the Dallas native’s foundation has donated $1.75 billion toward the response to COVID-19.

“In a year of pandemic and economic turmoil, at a time when our communities are deeply divided and facing steep challenges, Melinda Gates’ leadership stands out. Along with Bill Gates, she has led a tremendous philanthropic effort that has improved the human condition in Texas and across the world. From education to infectious disease, it is hard to find an issue or a corner of the world where Gates hasn’t worked to improve lives. Gates has shown what’s possible when human creativity is focused on solving problems,” said Dallas Morning News vice president and editor of editorials Brendan Miniter.

Since its establishment in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided more than $54 billion in grants to help people lead healthy, productive lives through the creation and nurturing of effective partnerships that tackle global problems, including protection against preventable disease and raising people out of poverty.

In 2020, the foundation’s two decades of work against infectious disease, its partnership with Gavi, a vaccine alliance, and its investment in the science behind vaccine development are all paying enormous dividends. Absent this work, the world may not have the COVID-19 vaccines it does now, and distributing it throughout the world -- especially in developing nations -- would be harder and take more time.

Melinda Gates has also made equality for women and girls a fundamental part of the foundation’s mission. Her work has empowered women all over the world, both in the home and in business.

About Texan of the Year

Texan of the Year honors those who have made uncommon, inspirational impact in our communities, our cities, our state, and our world.

Finalists for 2020 Texan of the Year were James A. Baker III; Charles Q. Brown; Charles Butt; Rick Carlisle; Clay Jenkins, Lina Hidalgo, and Ricardo Sameniego; Anika Chebrolu; Erin Nealy Cox; Philonese Floyd; Peter Hotez; Victoria Neave; Kim Noltemy; pandemic medical workers and first responders; Dak Prescott; Quinn Mason and Graham Weston.

The Texan of the Year recognition began in 2003. Previous recipients include former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura W. Bush, Holocaust survivor Max Glauben, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack, Adm. Bill McCraven, former Gov. Rick Perry and former Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and many others.

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