Susan Byrnes | Influence 100

Susan Byrnes 

Chief Communications Officer 
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 



In March this year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a new podcast series called Make Me Care About, hosted by author Jen Hatmaker. Episodes feature Hatmaker in conversation with guests including healthcare workers, advocates, scientists and advocators who are solving problems around the world, with the support of grants from the foundation.

This latest initiative has been overseen by arguably the not-for-profit sector’s top communicator, Susan Byrnes, who has headed up comms for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2020. With nearly $50m in assets, it may well be the world’s largest private foundation and focuses on enhancing healthcare and alleviating poverty globally.

Byrnes spent a decade in journalism, including at the LA Times and Seattle Times, before moving into comms and has held a range of comms leadership roles at the foundation, as well as a stint as managing director strategic communications for Gates foundation grant recipient Malaria No More. She describes herself as a strategic communications executive committed to global social impact and her expertise spans brand and reputation management, global media relations, digital strategies, audience insights, impact measurement, media-sector grant making, employee communications, executive profiles, and opinion and feature writing.