Reluctant to step into the limelight and quite content to operate far from the attention drawn by her husband’s powerful last name, Priscilla Chan is an American paediatrician who is best known as the wife of Mark Zuckerberg, the American technology entrepreneur.
Considering the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is easily one of the most famous technology entrepreneurs in the world, it is hardly a surprise that his wife has assumed a more public profile as the years go by. Born into a low-income household as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, she endured bullying as a student who constantly felt vulnerable. Notwithstanding, she beat the odds, graduating at the top of her class – a testament to her drive and doggedness.
Priscilla Had A Humble Start With Her Chinese-Vietnamese Refugee Parents
Priscilla Chan was born on the 24th of February 1985. Even though her place of birth was in Braintree, Massachusetts, U.S; she was raised in Quincy, the largest city in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. She is one year younger than her husband Mark who was born May 14, 1984.
As the story goes, life was pretty hard for her family after they fled Vietnam and settled in America. Priscilla once disclosed in an interview that her mom (Yvonne Chan) worked two jobs to support the family throughout her childhood. Fitting in was a herculean task for them for several reasons. For instance, her grandparents didn’t speak any English and Priscilla had to take on the task of being their interpreter. She was raised alongside two siblings, her younger sisters named Michelle and Elaine; their father’s name is Dennis, Dennis Chan.
She Is An Alumna Of Some Of The Most Prestigious Colleges
Though raised in a family far from affluent, her parents did their best to ensure Chan and her siblings got the best education on offer. Priscilla graduated from Quincy High School in 2003 at the age of 18 as a valedictorian. That same year, she moved on to college at Havard University on a fully-funded scholarship where she majored in Biology and also studied Spanish.
She graduated from Harvard at the age of 22 and went on to teach 4th and 5th-grade science at the Harker School in California for a brief period.
She enrolled in the University of California, San Francisco, to study paediatrics and graduated in 2012 – aged 27. Priscilla completed her paediatric residency about three years later, in 2015.
Priscilla Practiced As A Paediatrician Before Moving Into Philanthropy
Upon finishing her paediatric residency, she started work at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. According to her, her job as a doctor exposed her to the inadequacies of the health care system. Priscilla and Mark donated $75 million to the hospital’s foundation in 2015 which prompted the hospital to name Mark to the board and rename the hospital in his honour.
Chan worked at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center until 2017 when she resigned to focus on philanthropy.
She Champions Many Philanthropic Initiatives
Chan resigned from her job at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, in 2017 to run the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative full-time. Primarily a non-profit organization, the initiative is funded with an annual budget of around $700 to 800 million. The organization is set up to leverage on technology to prevent, cure, or manage all disease over the next century, revamp public education, immigration, and criminal justice reform, as well as support affordable housing.
To put in perspective the sheer size of this philanthropic initiative, the CZI has more equity at its disposal than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation put together.
Apart from signing The Giving Pledge, sometime in 2013, they donated $900 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The following year, in October, they gave away $25 million to support the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
As of 2015, Chan and her husband had committed to donating more than $320 million to improve the school system in the US. Through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – a non-profit organization which she is co-founder, Chan and her husband have pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to charity. Those shares were valued at about $45 billion at the time of their announcement.
A lot of Chan’s time is spent in the various philanthropic initiatives close to her heart. She started a prison project geared towards changing the lives of inmates through coding. The program called The Last Mile aims to equip inmates with coding skills as a way to help them fit into society better after release. Priscilla herself was at a prison in Oklahoma to inspire inmates to pick an interest in coding.
To fight the coronavirus pandemic, Chan and Mark donated $100,000 to 8 restaurants in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Altos, Redwood City area to help them cushion the adverse economic effects of the pandemic on their businesses. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative committed $24 million to train software developers in Africa.
Much of Chan’s time is focused on Chan Zuckerberg Initiative which she left medical practice to run full-time. Though she and Mark are co-founders of the foundation, he is preoccupied with running his tech giant Facebook. Altogether, CZI has given $1.4 billion in grants and made $100 million in venture investments.
How Much Is Priscilla Chan Worth Compared To Her Husband?
A discussion about Chan’s wealth will have to be done in view of her husband Zuckerberg’s fortune as it is almost impossible to extricate her finances from his, seeing how closely linked they are. Mark’s net worth is put at $76.4 billion. She is said to be worth around $14 billion, this figure, however, cannot be verified in any substantial way. Despite her wealth, she has done well to pursue her own career and interests, independent of her husband.
She taught at the Harker School in California briefly before switching to medicine. She is the CEO of The Primary School, a non-profit private school that seeks to provide tuition for low-income families in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park.
Chan and her Spouse Eschew Lavish Spending
You would think people as wealthy as Priscilla and Mark would have one huge party when they were getting married, but on the contrary, they opted for a super simple event. They wedded in Mark’s backyard with food from local restaurants while Green Day front-man Billie Joe Armstrong performed for free.
Chan, though wealthy, favour a more private life devoid of extravagant spending she and Mark own real estate in Kauai in Hawaii. They own a home in Dolores Heights worth at least $10 million.