Priscilla Chan is the amazing wife of the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. But, besides the fact that she gained fame by being married to a popular man who is equally one of the richest in the world, Priscilla Chan has strived to build a career of her own that has seen her make a positive impact on the world in her own little way. Professionally, she chose the path of child education and health care.
The first lady of Facebook, as many fondly call her, has done great things with her career as a paediatrician. Her commitment to humanity as a philanthropist has earned her good recognition well away from the fame and influence her husband commands. From health to education and social justice reforms, Chan believes there is nothing impossible for man to achieve and is working fastidiously towards her lofty goals, including eliminating all forms of human diseases by the 22nd century.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is Dedicated To Education, Science, Justice, and Equal Opportunity
Most people know that Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most philanthropic persons alive but what many may not know is that his wife is the main driving force behind these initiatives. Left to Zuckerberg, he would just have been some rich fellow who throws money at problems but Chan brought a whole new perspective to his life, thanks to her own first-hand experiences as the daughter of Chinese-Vietnamese immigrants. The Harvard alum grew up in relative poverty and has encountered less-privileged people in the course of her work as a teacher and doctor. This filled her with a burning passion to change the world for the better and she has influenced her husband with that passion.
That shared passion led the couple to announce the formation of their foremost philanthropic vehicle, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in 2015. CZI is a uniquely-structured organization that gives out grants, as well as partakes in venture investment and the creation of new tech products. All these are geared towards improving certain areas of life such as public education, immigration, criminal justice reforms, affordable housing for people, and science, etc. The initiative also has the ambitious target of preventing, curing, and managing all diseases by 2100.
In pursuit of these goals, Chan and her husband dole out hundreds of millions of dollars to CZI each year. They have also pledged to transfer 99% of their Facebook shares, valued at over $45 billion to CZI over the course of their lifetime. Chan meanwhile presides over the day-to-day running of the organization, including its two notable projects. One is a bio hub that fosters collaborations between researchers from UC Berkeley, Stanford, and USCF. Another is Human Cell Atlas that is working to map all the cells in the human body.
When Emily Crawford of the @czbiohub was tasked with creating a #COVID19 testing lab from scratch, she thought, “Bring it on.”
Read how Emily and a team of @UCSF students and fellows stood up the lab in 8 days https://t.co/hVHa5DpE1l
— CZI Science (@cziscience) August 28, 2020
Asides these two initiatives, CZI has donated millions of dollars to deserving causes over the years. In August 2020, the initiative gave $4.5 million to a group of researchers specializing in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. Also, in July 2020, the organization gave out $850,000 to five non-profits that will support back-to-school efforts amongst black, Latinx, and other indigenous students in areas such as Washington, Los Angles, and Colorado.
CZI also provided about $1.3 million in grants to different Bay Area organizations to support them in providing critical health services and palliatives for impoverished individuals and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She and Her Husband Donated $75 Million to the San Francisco General Hospital in 2015
In furtherance of their vision of making the world a better place for their children and the next generation, Priscilla Chan and her husband has made generous donations over the years to help out several public and private institutions. In 2015, the couple donated about $75 million to the San Francisco General Hospital. The donation was meant to fund the hospital’s new trauma center and acute care wing. The center would then serve all those who need it, regardless of whether they can pay or have legal migrant status in the United States of America.
Chan and her husband also made a $120 million donation to support public schools in the Bay Area. They also donated 18 million Facebook shares, valued at $990 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The is a foundation that supports Silicon Valley and nearby communities in areas such as education, security, immigrant interaction, etc.
Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chan and her husband donated a total of $100 million to support cash-strapped local journalism, as well as local newspapers. They also donated $25 million towards the search for a treatment for the disease. This is not the first time that the couple will be stepping up when the world is in dire times. Back in 2014, they also donated $25 million to help fight the scourge of Ebola in West Africa.
Chan and her husband have also extended their support towards enhancing the democratic process in the States. In the buildup to the contentious 2020 presidential elections, the couple donated a whopping $300 million to promote safe and reliable voting in states and counties during the Covid-19 pandemic. The funds are meant to help states and counties fund training, infrastructure, as well as other resources necessary to preserve the integrity of the election.
Priscilla Chan is the Co-founder of Early Education Charity, The Primary School
Priscilla Chan has always had a passion for education, evidenced in her stint as a teacher before medical school, and this led her to establish a non-profit private institution known as the Primary School, a result of consultation with teachers, health care professionals, social workers, and others. These consultations revealed that health issues and trauma often prevented kids from thriving in classrooms and that the education and health care systems are often not equipped to handle this.
Based on this finding, Chan set up an organization that would bring health care and education under one roof. The Primary School not only provides K-12 education but also prenatal support and on-site healthcare. It opened its first facility in 2016 and now has branches in other parts of East Palo Alto and Hayward; serving hundreds of families.
She Still Works Occasional Shifts as a Paediatrician
Priscilla Chan has been committed to her career as a paediatrician and a child educator. Starting from 2015, she did her residency at the San Francisco General Hospital. The Boston native specialized in paediatrics and developed a reputation as a crier. This does not however suggest that she was a weak-willed or fearful person. On the contrary, her colleagues described her as a quick-thinking person who remained calm no matter the type of pressure.
Chan was also more than the first responder at heart-wrenching cases, such as kids getting horribly burnt, but she handled such situations capably. By the time she left residency to take over full time at CZI in 2017, she had gained the respect and admiration of her colleagues. That admiration lives on and Chan occasionally drops in once every month to do a shift at her old workplace.
Priscilla Chan at @CSHL’s Double Helix Medal award ceremony at @AMNH last night: “Mark and I take this award as a vote of confidence so early in our work in science, and we promise to work even harder.”
Read more: https://t.co/vQoHgM4bgT #helixmedals pic.twitter.com/CZFs2ssdnM
— CZI Science (@cziscience) November 8, 2018
Chan was Named the San Francisco Chronicle’s Visionary of the Year in 2017
Priscilla Chan’s life work has fetched her several awards. In November 2018, she and her husband were honoured with the double Helix Medal by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. This was in recognition of their innovative venture, CZI, as well as their goal of curing, preventing, or managing all diseases. Chan received the award on behalf of her and her husband and stated that it was a privilege to help support and uplift the work of researchers on the frontlines of curing, managing, and preventing diseases.
Chan was also named the Visionary of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle in early 2017. The award recognizes Bay Area leaders who work to create social change and Chan was honoured for her philanthropy, as well as her dedication to education and health. She received a $25,000 grant from the Chronicle to support her favourite charity (which she gave to the Hamilton Foundation that assists homeless people). She also got a $10,000 scholarship which will be given to a deserving graduate student at the St Mary’s College School of Economics and Business Administration.
On the downside, some people have knocked Chan and her husband over their charity initiatives. They see it as an attempt to salvage Facebook’s image after the social media platform became embroiled in scandals such as fake news, rampant hate news on the platform, breach of users personal data, privacy mishandlings, and allowing politicians to run false ads on the platform etc.
Chan has maintained that this is not the case and that CZI is an entirely different organization from Facebook. Some people have also spoken out in her favour. They base their argument on the fact that CZI came into existence before Facebook became embroiled in controversies. It, therefore, stands to reason that the initiative was not conceived as a whitewashing avenue for laundering Facebook’s checkered image.
Chan and Zuckerberg Met During a Frat Party at Harvard
Priscilla Chan first ran into her husband during a frat party at Harvard University in 2003. She was a freshman while he was a sophomore and they bumped into each other whilst waiting to make use of toilet facilities at the venue of the party. They both started a conversation and by the end of the discussion, Mark was able to wiggle out a date from Chan. This date marked the first of many before they officially started a relationship.
In the early years of the couple’s relationship, the different worlds that they came from threatened to come between them. While Chan hailed from a low-income town where only about 50% of high school leavers make it to college while the rest go into menial work, Zuckerberg was the scion of a middle-class New York family who attended expensive boarding schools. This gulf in upbringing made Chan a bit judgmental of her boyfriend but she realized that she couldn’t change who he was and that the best thing to do was to teach him about other realities of life.
This mindset improved the couple’s romance and they forged on, even after Zuckerberg dropped out of college in order to concentrate on Facebook in 2004. The relationship continued for several years and the lovebirds eventually moved in together by 2010. They later got engaged and tied the knot in a surprise ceremony in May 2012. The wedding was held in the couple’s Palo Alto backyard and was initially billed as a party to celebrate Chan’s graduation from medical school. Guests then discovered another thing altogether when they got to the venue.
Meet The Two Kids Who Have Inspired Them to Make the World Better for Future Generations
As a married couple, Priscilla Chan and her husband dealt with the heartbreak of three miscarriages. They later announced the birth of their first daughter, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg, on December 1, 2015. They also welcomed a second daughter, August, on the 28th of August, 2017. The lovely family makes their home in Palo Alto and even though Chan and her husband have never been ones for publicity, they occasionally share sweet pictures of their daughters; either playing with their toys or heading off for their first day of pre-school. The couple has also shared some adorable family pictures featuring them in coordinated outfits.
The coming of kids have of course changed the dynamics of the couple’s romance but they still make sure to stay in tune with each other. They have obviously embarked on several charity initiatives together and Zuckerberg never fails to give his wife the praise she deserves. For instance, when he was named Time Magazine’s most influential person in 2016, he shared the cover with her and described her as strong, compassionate, and kind.
The Facebook founder has also continued to prove his love for his wife by using his engineering expertise to invent things that can make her life better. The New York native built a sleep box that would help his wife who was having trouble sleeping as a result of constantly waking up to check on the kids. The box emits a dim light which tells Chan that it is time to wake up and as such, she is able to get quality sleep.