Priscilla Chan is Mark Zuckerberg's wife. The two have been married for 10 years and have two children together.
At 37-years of age, Priscilla Chan has numerous accomplishments under her belt. She was first a teacher in a private school and then she was a pediatrician in San Francisco.
Now, she runs one of the biggest philanthropic initiatives in the world, and, oh yeah, she is also Mark Zuckerberg’s wife.
PRISCILLA CHAN MET MARK ZUCKERBERG AT A FRAT PARTY
When Priscilla Chan first met Mark Zuckerberg, the thought of becoming his future wife was the furthest thing on her mind. She was, as was he, at a 2003 Harvard frat party standing in line to use the bathroom. She was a young freshman at the time.
The two struck up a nice conversation, but still, becoming Mark Zuckerberg’s wife was not in the immediate plans. They did make the boyfriend/girlfriend thing official shortly after their first meeting.
Chan told The New Yorker about one of her earliest memories of her and Zuckerberg, “He was this nerdy guy who was just a little bit out there,” Chan recalled. “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.”
BEFORE BECOMING MARK ZUCKERBERG’S WIFE, PRISCILLA CHAN WAS BORN IN MASSACHUSETTS AND WENT TO HARVARD
It would be hard to imagine Priscilla Chan becoming Mark Zuckerberg’s wife with how life treated her early on. Chan is a first-generation American whose ethnic Chinese parents came to the United States directly from Saigon as refugees that were known as the Vietnamese boat people. As Chan describes it, the journey was fraught with danger, many times ending in tragedy.
“You literally put your children on a boat, say goodbye, and hope to meet them on the other side,” Chan describes to QZ.
“There are horror stories of families putting all their kids on one boat and it sinks, they lose their children. Both sets of my grandparents, who were in the same community, paired their kids, so if a given boat sank, they’d only lose a kid each, which is a crazy calculus. My mom and my aunt were paired together and became best friends. And that’s how my mom got to know my dad. They got married later on.”
Her parents made it, ending up in Quincy, Massachusetts, where Chan was raised, speaking Cantonese. It was not easy for her early on and in seventh grade, she became a victim of bullying. “I never went to recess,” she says. “I would eat lunch and then just wait in the bathroom until it was over. All year. No teacher ever noticed.”
The self-professed science nerd made it through middle school and began to see her future when she joined the robotics class. Her teacher was both a science teacher and the tennis team coach, which Chan also took part of, even though Mark Zuckerberg’s future wife had never played a sport in her life. This was not lost on her teacher/coach.
“She’d never played a sport before and was not a talented athlete,” recalls Science teacher/tennis coach, Peter Swanson. “But she worked hard and liked playing.” Ultimately, Chan got good enough with the tennis racket that she was a fair to middling tennis player. Where she did shine, though, was in the classroom.
She took AP environmental science as a sophomore, a class so difficult that Chan’s school restricted sophomores from taking it in the future. But Chan thrived and while her fellow students struggled, she ended up grabbing the top score, which led her to graduate as class valedictorian.
All of this led her toward her future when she was accepted into Harvard.
PRISCILLA CHAN WENT TO MEDICAL SCHOOL
Eventually, Priscilla Chan decided that becoming a pediatrician was in the cards for her. She took her immense talent to the University of California, San Francisco, where she began the long journey to doctorhood. It was during her time at the university that Chan and Zuckerberg decided to take things to the next level and the prospect of Chan becoming Mark Zuckerberg’s wife was one step closer.
It was in September 2010 that Zuckerberg and Chan moved in together. Zuckerberg’s home was in Palo Alto, California and he took little time to make the announcement on his own personal Facebook page. In his own humorous way, Zuckerberg wrote: “Priscilla Chan is moving in this weekend. Now we have 2x everything, so if you need any household appliances, dishes, glasses…please come by and take them before we give them away.”
With the move complete, Chan continued with her studies to become a doctor while Zuckerberg continue to build his Facebook empire. Although becoming a doctor was still a few years away for Chan, becoming Mark Zuckerberg’s wife was much closer than they probably realized. 2012 was a big year for Zuckerberg, Chan, and Facebook.
PRISCILLA CHAN BECAME MARK ZUCKERBERG’S WIFE ON MAY 19, 2012
2012 was big for Chan and more specifically, the month of May. Not only did Zuckerberg’s Facebook go public in a big way, but Zuckerberg and Chan had a surprise wedding. It was held in the couple’s backyard, a small affair with family and friends who had gathered thinking it was a celebration party for Chan graduating from medical school.
Although friends and family were taken off-guard at the surprise nuptials, the entire event was well done. Before Zuckerberg and Chan said their official “I do’s,” they exchanged lovely handwritten vows. Their reception was catered by their favorite Palo Alto eateries, and they even snacked on mice-shaped chocolates, which was a cute nod to the tasty treat the couple shared on their very first date.
THE ZUCKERBERG’S HAVE TWO CHILDREN
In a lifetime of “big things”, the next big thing for Mark Zuckerberg’s wife came in 2015 when they welcomed their first child. Maxima Chan Zuckerberg was born on December 1, 2015. Then, in 2017 they had their second child August. Now, the couple say they have a third child on the way.
THE CHAN ZUCKERBERG INITIATIVE
Mark Zuckerberg’s wife did not plan things to go this way. After announcing the start of the Initiative where Zuckerberg and Chan pledged to spend 99 percent of their Facebook fortune over their lifetime on “Advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity,” they got to the business of finding someone who could run the show. Somehow, some way, Chan fell into the role.
Chan’s decision to step up and take on the reins as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative leader coincided with the birth of the power couple’s second child, August. They were actively searching for someone to run the company but weren’t finding their match. “We had a search going [to hire someone],” Chan explains.
“But there was no one perfect. And then once I had August, I came back and was like, ‘You know what? We’re closing the search. I have an opinion on how this is going to go.”
Close they did and opinions she had. Mark Zuckerberg’s wife took over and since that time, through thick and thin, has put CZI on the map, though it doesn’t hurt business when you are the most well-funded philanthropies on the planet.
MARK ZUCKERBERG AND PRISCILLA CHAN HAVE GIVEN MORE THAN $6 BILLION TO CHARITY
So far, Zuckerberg and Chan are living up to their promise. They continue to funnel their Facebook wealth into helping with solutions. They have given over $6 billion to charities, which includes a nice $75 million slice to San Francisco General Hospital where Mark Zuckerberg’s wife once worked.
Way back in 2013, they gave away 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which was valued at over $970 million. They also pledged a much-needed $120 million to public schools located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Priscilla Chan is much more than Mark Zuckerberg’s wife. She is a teacher, a doctor, and more importantly, a leading philanthropist. While Chan is putting the Facebook fortune to good use, the couple just announced a third daughter is on the way, due in June 2023.