Connie Collingsworth is the General Counsel and Secretary of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private foundation, focused on enhancing healthcare and reducing extreme poverty in the developing world and expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology in the United States. She also serves on the foundation’s Management Committee.
Ms. Collingsworth joined the foundation in 2002 as its first General Counsel and only attorney. During the last seven years she has been responsible for managing all of the foundation’s legal needs and has been a proactive leader in developing processes to increase the efficiency of the foundation’s grant making while ensuring compliance with complex tax laws. She has built and led a legal team of 22 members, instilling an ethic of responsive legal support that emphasizes problem‐solving through creative solutions and positive guidance. In her role as a member of the foundation’s Management Committee, she participates in the creation, development and execution of foundationwide policy and strategy.
Prior to joining the foundation, Ms. Collingsworth was a Partner and member of the Executive Committee of Preston Gates & Ellis, which she joined in 1987. Preston was a leading Northwest law firm based in Seattle, with offices in Washington, D.C., China and Taiwan. In 2007, the firm merged with Kirkpatrick Lockhart Nicholson Graham to form K&L Gates. In private practice, Ms. Collingsworth focused on corporate and securities law and developed a broad range of experience, including private equity financing, mergers and acquisitions and complex business transactions. Her expertise included representing emerging growth companies involved in a range of businesses, including the technology, retail and manufacturing sectors. She also served as general counsel to venture capital and hedge funds and was lead investor counsel on numerous venture capital investment transactions. Throughout her tenure at the firm, Ms. Collingsworth held a number of management positions, including Chairperson of the Business Department, Member of the Partner Compensation Committee and member of the Recruiting Committee.
From the time of its creation in 2000 through its successful acquisition in 2008, Ms. Collingsworth served as both a Board Member and Independent Board observer for Attenex Corporation, a leader in the eDiscovery marketplace. She is currently a member of both the Board of Advisors to the New York University School of Law National Center on Philanthropy and the Law and the Independent Sector International Program Advisory Committee. Previous nonprofit board experience also includes serving as a board member and board Chair of Social Venture Partners, and founder, board member and board Chair of the French American School of Puget Sound.
Ms. Collingsworth has spoken on topics ranging from representing emerging growth companies, corporate director’s and officers’ duty of care, and stock option issues as well as published articles on financing high‐tech ventures and utilizing limited liability companies.
Ms. Collingsworth received a LL.M. in International Business Legal Studies from the University of Exeter, England, a J.D. from University of Nebraska School of Law, and a B.A., in English from Andrews University.