“I did the Wall Street thing, and didn’t enjoy it,” says Revelle, a former consultant with Public Financial Management and McKinsey & Co. “It was a lot of work, and all the hours I put in made me cranky. And there was no sense of accomplishment. After I had kids, I wanted to do something I could be proud of. Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve global health gives me the opportunity to do something that I hope will make my children happy and proud of me.”
Revelle joined the Gates Foundation in 2009. Her projects include one that unites the public and private sectors and drug companies to provide children in developing countries with the pentavalent vaccine, which helps protect youngsters from five deadly diseases: tetanus, hepatitis B, diphtheria, whooping cough, and haemophilus influenza B. Under an agreement she spearheaded, the vaccine maker is guaranteed a certain volume of sales for several years in exchange for the company’s commitment to produce the vaccine and to reduce prices for use in the poorest countries.
“This is what I can contribute to the world,” she says. “I didn’t develop the vaccine, and I can’t deliver it, but I can still make an impact. This is my way to give back.”
Giving back is important for Revelle, who was born in Vietnam in 1977. Her father had served in the South Vietnamese army and when she was an infant, her family fled by boat to Malaysia. A church group brought the family to San Antonio.
She chose Princeton because she liked its diversity and “amazing academic reputation,” she says. “Princeton taught me how to think critically, how to learn fast and how to write well. It also gave me the confidence to be around smart people, and being in an environment with so many super smart people gave me a sense of humility.” She earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2006.
Princeton also provided her with a life partner — husband Greg Revelle ’00, whom she met through Greg’s roommate, John Weicher ’00, during freshman year. Weicher later became a minister and married Natalie and Greg.
In her recent work, Revelle has been coordinating projects to bring the next generation of HIV drugs to developing countries, and to provide contraceptives to women. To date, all of these agreements have saved the global health community more than $750 million.
“Melinda Gates’ passion is to help women and girls,” Revelle says. “The contraceptives are not about having less kids, it’s a health and economic issue. And it’s about giving choice to women in their lives.”