Who We Are
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan in December 2015, is a new kind of philanthropic organization that brings together world-class engineering, grant-making, impact investing, policy, and advocacy work. Our initial areas of focus include supporting science through basic biomedical research and education through personalized learning. We are also exploring other issues tied to the promotion of equal opportunity including access to affordable housing and criminal justice reform.
We look for bold ideas — regardless of structure and stage — and help them scale by pairing world-class engineers with subject matter experts to build tools that accelerate the pace of social progress. We make long-term investments because important breakthroughs often take decades, or even centuries.
We engage directly in the communities we serve because no one understands our society’s challenges like those who live them every day. These partners help us identify problems and opportunities, learn fast, and iterate toward our goals for the next century. We strive to be lifelong learners who work collaboratively across functions in service of our mission.
Mark Zuckerberg co-founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with his wife, Priscilla Chan, in December 2015. As the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark brings rich technical experience and a deep commitment to building strong communities to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s work. Mark studied computer science at Harvard University before moving to Palo Alto, California in 2004.
Priscilla Chan co-founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, in December 2015. As a pediatrician and former teacher, her work with patients and students in communities across the Bay Area has informed her desire to make learning more personalized and find a path to cure disease. She is also the founder and CEO of The Primary School, which integrates health and education and serves children and families in East Palo Alto and the Belle Haven neighborhood in Menlo Park, California. Priscilla earned her BA in Biology at Harvard University and her MD at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She completed her pediatrics training in the UCSF/PLUS Pediatrics Residency.
Head of Science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Cori Bargmann, an internationally recognized neurobiologist and geneticist, leads the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s science work. Dr. Bargmann is also the head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior and the Torsten N. Wiesel Professor at the Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Bargmann is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She received the 2012 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience and the 2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, among many scientific honors. She also co-chaired the National Institutes of Health committee that set goals and strategies for President Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN Initiative). Dr. Bargmann is a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Head of Justice and Opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
David Plouffe leads the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s policy and advocacy team. For more than 25 years, David has developed strategies to bring people together around common causes. He has held senior positions in government and the private sector including his role as manager of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. David also served as White House Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chief Advisor at Uber Technologies, Inc, where he remains a member of the Board of Directors. He is a veteran of several congressional, gubernatorial and presidential campaigns and served as Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and senior staff member to Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds a BA from the University of Delaware and is the author of of the New York Times bestseller, The Audacity to Win.
Head of Education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Jim Shelton leads the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s education efforts. He is the former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and previously served as the Chief Impact Officer at 2U, Inc., an education technology company that brings college degree programs and credit-bearing courses online. From 2003 to 2009, he was the program director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Morehouse College and Master’s degrees in business administration and education from Stanford University.
Peggy Abkemeier Alford
Chief Financial Officer
Peggy Abkemeier Alford is the Chief Financial Officer for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Previously she held the positions at PayPal of CFO of Americas, Global Credit and Global Products and COO in the Asia Pacific region. Most recently, she served as the head of Human Resources-People Operations as well as the head of cross-border trade for PayPal. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Business Administration from Dayton University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Erika Rottenberg is the General Counsel for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Erika started her legal career with the Silicon Valley law firm Cooley Godward, and was general counsel at a number of technology companies, including LinkedIn, where she was its first full-time and long-term General Counsel, responsible for global legal, privacy, policy and regulatory affairs. Erika has a life-long commitment to social good and philanthropy, and currently serves on the boards of Girl Scouts USA and the Silicon Valley Law Foundation. She also serves on the boards of Nasdaq-listed Wix.com and NYSE-listed Twilio. She earned her law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and her undergraduate degree in special and elementary education at the State University of New York at Geneseo.