Mark Zuckerberg (L) and Priscilla Chan attend the 2019 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 4, 2018 in Mountain View, California. Chan works with her husband as co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize
Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Priscilla Chan: 3 things to know about the philanthropist, Facebook co-founder Zuckerberg's wife

Priscilla Chan is well-known as the wife of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but she has a thriving career of her own in philanthropy, and is a former teacher and pediatrician.

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Here are three things to know bout Chan:

She’s the child of refugees

Chan, who is very private about her personal life, is the child of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States in the 1970s. 

"My grandparents did something I think is completely courageous,” she said in a February 2019 interview with “CBS This Morning.” “They put their kids on a boat and watched that boat drift off to sea. (My family knows) very firsthand that hardship is real and opportunities are available but not available to everyone.”

She’s a pediatrician 

Chan worked at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals as a resident physician after graduating from Harvard Medical School in 2012. 

Chan also worked with children as an elementary school science teacher. According to her Facebook page, she remained a teacher while doing her residency and has since left those jobs to work full time at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. She co-founded the organization with her husband in 2015.

She met Zuckerberg at Harvard University

Chan was at Harvard for four weeks on a full scholarship when she met her now-husband.

According to a 2010 profile of Zuckerberg  in The New Yorker, the two were waiting in line for the bathroom at an Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity party. Zuckerberg was a member of the Jewish college fraternity.

“He was this nerdy guy who was just a little bit out there,” Chan said. “I remember he had these beer glasses that said ‘pound include beer dot H.’ It’s a tag for C++. It’s like college humor but with a nerdy, computer-science appeal.”

Related: Mark Zuckerberg: 3 things to know about the Facebook founder

“He just had a totally different mentality in terms of being able to do things and take risks than I did,” she said in a 2019 interview. “And I thought he was fascinating, but he was 18. I didn't think I was gonna marry him.”

Ten years after they met, the couple married in a surprise ceremony at their home in Palo Alto, California. Zuckerberg announced they were expecting their first child, a baby girl, in July 2015, and in the process revealed that Chan had “three miscarriages along the way” since trying to conceive. Later that year, they welcomed Maxima “Max” Chan Zuckerberg. Their second daughter, August Chan Zuckerberg, was born in 2017.

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