Martha Choe to Join Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as Global Libraries Director
SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced that Martha Choe has been named director of the Global Libraries program, an initiative that partners with libraries to provide access to computers and the Internet. Choe is the Washington State coordinator for the Boeing 7E7 Project Management Office and previously served as Gov. Gary Locke’s director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED). She will officially join the foundation in November.
“Martha brings a wonderful blend of expertise in effective state government and international development, which will help us advance public access computing in libraries both domestically and abroad,” said Sylvia M. Mathews, chief operating officer of the foundation and executive director of its Library and Pacific Northwest programs as well as special projects. “Martha complements our team of library and technology leaders while deepening our ability to partner with governmental and nongovernmental organizations interested in furthering access to information for all people.”
“Martha is a tremendous leader. With her guidance, the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development helped create thousands of new jobs in our state, attracted hundreds of new companies, and worked to bring vital public works and infrastructure improvements to rural Washington,” said Gov. Locke. “Her leadership of our state’s 7E7 proposal and safeguarding thousands of aerospace industry jobs will benefit Washington state for decades to come. She has my immense gratitude and respect. I wish her much continued success.”
“Libraries are the heart and soul of communities,” said Choe. “My own passion for libraries started when I was a young girl, and I visited the library every week with my parents. I’m now looking forward to joining an extraordinarily successful program that help libraries around the world connect people with information, technology, and knowledge.”
Choe will oversee the foundation’s U.S. Library Program and the International Library Initiatives. Since 1998, the foundation has committed $250 million through its U.S. Library Program to install more than 47,000 computers in almost 11,000 libraries in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Libraries located in disadvantaged areas received hardware and software, networking funds, technical support, and publications as well as training for library staff. The International Library Initiatives support libraries throughout the world to help all individuals improve their lives through information and technology. The foundation has completed programs in Canada and Chile and is now working in Mexico.
As director of CTED, Choe led and staffed successful international trade missions to Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and China. She managed a staff of more than 300 with a biennial budget of $1.1 billion. Before joining CTED, Choe served two four-year terms on the Seattle City Council and chaired the Finance and Budget Committee, as well as the Transportation and Economic Development Committee.
Prior to public service, Martha was a vice president at the Bank of California in the Seattle and Bellevue branches. She also taught high school English, speech and debate in Eugene, Ore.
Choe will leave her position with the state at the end of May and start at the foundation in November.
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 serves on the boards of the Frye Art Museum, the Seattle Foundation Board, and the Wing Luke Asian Museum Capital Committee. The Municipal League of Seattle recently named her as an Outstanding Public Official.