GHC 18 Featured Speaker: Priscilla Chan

GHC 18 Featured Speaker: Priscilla Chan

As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Priscilla Chan ran an after-school program for kids in a low-income community. She was eager to provide a safe and supportive environment for these young students. Unfortunately, numerous barriers such as gang violence, poor housing conditions, and lack of medical help prevented many of these kids from attending school.

When one of Priscilla’s students didn’t show up one day, Priscilla decided to go looking for her. «As she was explaining why she missed school, I realized that her front two teeth were broken,» Priscilla said. «I questioned where I had failed in doing my part to prevent her from getting hurt.»

Motivated to help children just like this young girl, Priscilla spent 10 years training to be a pediatrician. «But,» she admitted, «I saw the other side of the problem—I could diagnose and treat, but there were no prescriptions to help my patients be successful, or even to help them stay healthy.

«I kept running into systemic barriers,» Priscilla explained. «So I decided to make the leap into my work today, working deeply to make sure that public systems that help our most underserved children are actually achieving their goals.»

Technology and Philanthropy

Priscilla and her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) two years ago, shortly after their daughter Maxima was born.

«When we got pregnant with our daughter Max, we realized we wanted to do our part now to create the incredible world we want her to live in,» Priscilla said. «We wanted to help create a better future for more people.»

CZI supports a wide range of initiatives, from reforming education to addressing the housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area. Although CZI is a philanthropic investment company, technology plays a major role in the way it is run. The organization’s engineering team has developed various tools and technologies to help its mission. For example, they are helping build a data coordination platform for the Human Cell Atlas, a global collaboration that maps and characterizes all cells in a healthy human body.

«I am proud of the engineering team we have built and will continue to grow here,» Priscilla said. «They bring the best of the engineering problem-solving mindset and build tools to accelerate progress in education, science, and justice and opportunity.»

Stepping Up to the Job

Although Priscilla loves her current work, she admits she wasn’t initially confident that she could take on such a prominent role at CZI.

«Three years ago, I thought I would hire someone with the ‘right’ training or ‘right’ experience to do this job,» she said. «But ultimately I stood up for the job. It has been a huge growth opportunity for me and I’m excited to continue learning.

«We are all more capable than we could ever imagine or admit to,» she continued. «There is a strong village of people who are present, ready, and willing to make sure you succeed.»

Priscilla will be one of our featured speakers at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC 18), where she will join our 20,000 attendees in promoting a brighter future for women in tech.

«I believe in the mission of—a future where the people who build technology mirror the people and societies for which they build it,» she said. «We are trying to bring that same value to our work at CZI by building a team that reflects the future we’re building, stays close to the challenges we’re addressing, and is part of the communities we serve. That’s our vision for building a future for everyone.»


If you’re attending #GHC18, you don’t want to miss out on #CZI’s leader @PriscillaChan speaking on Thursday, September 27 at 10:30 a.m. This session will feature a live QA. Register for this session now.

Learn more about our featured and keynote speakers.

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Roe v. Wade Has Been Overturned. You Have Every Right to Be Upset. Here’s how to take action

We at, are disheartened and dismayed by the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling that enabled the right of an abortion to people around the nation. brings together allies and champions across every sector to advance intersectional gender equity in technology. The technologists we support are also people impacted by targeted oppressive and unjust laws including laws that restrict reproductive rights. Not only do we empower technologists through our year-long programming but, we also advocate for better systemic solutions for the workforce and for their humanity. 

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, we are joining to elevate the calls to action of our social justice colleagues and community partners. 

If you feel called to do something today or in the next coming days, here are some action steps:  

  • Support and donate to Repro Legal Defense Fund, which is a national organization that covers bail and funds strong defense for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for abortion. Because no one should be behind bars for ending their pregnancy or helping someone else do so.
  • Support and donate to Plan C, an educational resource for learning about how people in the US access abortion pills.
  • Support and donate to your local Planned Parenthood, independent abortion clinics, and abortion funds.
  • Go to the streets and join a protest near you. Most protests are happening today at 5 PM at the federal courthouses or state capitols. is also launching a political advocacy series, Power to the People, with our first event on July 20th. The first event of this series, Power to People: Abortion Rights and Digital Privacy, will elevate the voices of abortion advocates and the risks emerging with digital rights and privacy. This event will empower you to take additional action regarding abortion rights and data privacy. Stay tuned for more information about this upcoming event. 

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