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Melinda Gates Joins Washington Post Co. as Director

Melinda Gates also sits on the board of Drugstore.com Inc., an online drug-selling company, and holds 2.7 million shares of that company's stock, 3.4 percent of the total. In June, chief executive Kal Raman resigned and the company told analysts that its 2004 losses would be greater than expected.

Two weeks later, New York class-action specialty firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP sued Drugstore.com, saying insiders such as Raman knew about the company's poor performance and sold millions of dollars in stock while issuing positive forecasts. Melinda Gates is not named in the suit. Drugstore.com spokesman Walter Conner said the company does not comment on pending litigation; Melinda Gates's spokesman also declined to comment.

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Melinda Gates also was on the board of trustees of her alma mater, Duke University, where she earned a computer science degree, and has been an adviser to ThirdAge Inc., an online content company that caters to baby boomers. She no longer serves in that capacity.

The mother of three resigned from the Duke board in May, telling fellow trustees in a letter that traveling from Seattle to Durham, N.C., for board meetings four times a year was no longer "feasible" given her extensive overseas travels for the foundation.

The Post Co. board meets six times a year, five times in Washington and once in New York.

"Melinda has personal relationships and other business on the East Coast related to the Gates Foundation that makes D.C. perhaps a more convenient location for her," Cerrell said.

Like all non-employee Post Co. directors, Gates will receive $60,000 annually and be reimbursed for expenses related to board meetings, according to the company proxy statement.

Gates will not serve on any board committees initially, Graham said.

In addition to The Washington Post, The Post Co. owns six television stations, Newsweek magazine, the Kaplan Inc. education company and several smaller newspapers -- including the Everett (Wash.) Herald and the suburban Washington Gazette papers. The company also owns washingtonpost.com and Cable One Inc., a small cable company with about 712,000 customers throughout the South and Plains states.

Staff researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.

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