By Queenie Wong
San Jose Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) She may be known as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “quieter half.” It’s not often we hear from Priscilla Chan who married Zuckerberg in 2012. But don’t let Chan’s reserved nature fool you. This Harvard graduated pediatrician is a woman of strength who is empowering women and children around the world to live healthy, safe, productive lives.
SAN JOSE, Calif.
Priscilla Chan remembers seeing blood all over the boy’s face, a sign he had gotten jumped in his own neighborhood. For the first time, just looking at someone else hurt.
Chan, then a Harvard student and now a Bay Area philanthropist, pediatrician, mother and wife of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, was mentoring the child in an after-school program meant to quell gang violence in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Yet stellar tutoring and field trips to football fields and skating rinks couldn’t cure the student’s woes.
“I realized that my homework help was going to completely be futile if these kids couldn’t be healthy, safe and happy in the place that they lived,” a teary-eyed Chan told the San Jose Mercury News in a rare interview. “That really drives a lot of what I decided to do in my life and career.”
Chan is the private face of the philanthropic couple, working quietly behind the scenes. While Zuckerberg is a prominent player among Silicon Valley’s tech elite and his life story is widely known, Chan rarely talks publicly about how her personal story has helped shaped the couple’s multimillion-dollar donations to schools and hospitals.
Wealth and power used to be foreign to Chan, the child of immigrant parents who fled Vietnam on refugee boats in the 1970s and never went to college.
Now Chan and her husband have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve education and health care for children, including in the Bay Area. They have vowed to donate 99 percent of their Facebook’s shares, worth more than $45 billion, to charitable causes.