Chan Zuckerberg Initiative taps former Obama, Bush campaign managers to lead policy, advocacy

Two well-known political figures among both Democrats and Republicans will lead policy and advocacy efforts at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which was formed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, to fund philanthropic causes.

David Plouffe, who worked as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and serves as chief adviser and a board member at Uber, will lead the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts. Plouffe is leaving his job at Uber, but will remain on the tech firm’s board.

Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who also managed George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, will head the initiative’s policy advisory board. Mehlman, who is volunteering his time, is currently the head of global public affairs at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

“Part of creating sustainable social change is also helping to build movements around these issues — to fight for more science funding and better education for all children,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. “Advocacy has always been part of our approach.”

Zuckerberg and Chan announced in December 2015 that they were giving away 99 percent of their Facebook shares over their lifetime for philanthropic efforts and formed a limited liability company to do so. At the time, the gift was valued at an estimated $45 billion.

In September, the couple also said they would invest $3 billion over the next decade to cure, prevent and manage all diseases. They’ve also made investments in education and tapped Jim Shelton, former deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, to lead efforts in that area.

Zuckerberg noted that Plouffe and Mehlman, who is openly gay, have worked on campaigns for different political parties but have come together on issues such as marriage equality.

Over the next few months, Zuckerberg said, more policy advisory board members will be announced.

“They’ll work together to find opportunities to work with governments, partners and people everywhere to advance human potential and promote equal opportunity,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The addition of two former presidential campaign managers to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative fueled speculation on social media Tuesday that the 32-year-old could run for president in 2020.

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage after wife Dr. Priscilla Chan during the announcement that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s next focus will be in science at the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 21, 2016. (ANDA CHU/Bay Area News Group)


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