Princeton finance VP Ainslie to become CFO at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Carolyn Ainslie, vice president for finance and treasurer at Princeton University since 2008, has been named chief financial officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The appointment, which will take effect Oct. 1, was announced Monday, July 9.

"During her 10 years as Princeton's vice president for finance and treasurer, Carolyn Ainslie has helped to guide the University through the global financial crisis, improved our financial systems and been an important voice in the University's strategic decision-making,” Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber said. “She has been a valued colleague to me and to all of us in Princeton's administration, and is a national leader on financial issues in the nonprofit sector. I wish her well as she takes on this exciting new challenge."

Carolyn Ainslie portrait

Carolyn Ainslie

"I am honored to join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and do my part to help people around the world lead more productive and healthy lives," Ainslie said.  "I want to thank President Eisgruber, the trustees, my colleagues and the entire Princeton community for the years of partnership, friendship and support. 

"I have always embraced the value of lifelong learning and discovery and the importance of serving others, and have been fortunate to work at institutions that put those priorities at the center of their work. I will miss Princeton and the people who make it so special but look forward to building on those same values with the foundation," she said. 

At the Seattle-based Gates Foundation, Ainslie will lead the finance and accounting, financial planning and analysis, assurance and risk management, and program-related investments teams. In her strategic and operational leadership role, she will have responsibility for maximizing impact across the foundation’s portfolio of programmatic investments in global health, global development and education.

“We are very pleased that Carolyn will join the foundation as our CFO,” said Chief Executive Officer Sue Desmond-Hellmann. “Her leadership and deep experience well position Carolyn to help ensure the foundation’s endowment is invested wisely and boldly in service of the people who need it most.” 

As Princeton’s vice president for finance and treasurer, Ainslie is the University’s chief financial officer. Her office has responsibility for coordinating and executing the receipt, disbursement and custody of Princeton University’s financial resources, and she oversees offices including budget, controller, financial reporting analysis and systems, payroll, purchasing, risk management and tax.

Prior to Princeton, Ainslie spent 20 years at Cornell University in increasingly senior roles, ending her tenure there as vice president for planning and budget. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell University and an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester.

She serves on the board of the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) Investment Committee. She has also been on the boards of the National Student Clearinghouse, Leadership for a Diverse America (LEDA), Harding Loevner LP and The Kendal Corp.

A search for the University’s next vice president for finance and treasurer will commence soon.