Chan Zuckerberg Initiative builds out comms team

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, launched the social advocacy organization shortly after the birth of their daughter, Max.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Image via the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's Facebook page).
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Image via the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's Facebook page).

PALO ALTO, CA: The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is hiring for three newly created positions as it builds out its communications function.

The organization is hiring a chief spokesperson, director of comms for education, and director of communications for science.

The social advocacy company is reviewing candidates for the chief spokesperson role, according to VP of comms Brent Colburn, who oversees communications. It has not made a hiring decision.

"Obviously, working with the broader community is central to all the work we do," he said. "We believe that requires having a robust comms operation. We will continue to build that out as the organization grows."

Colburn added the company wants staffers across sectors from diverse backgrounds.

The responsibilities for the chief spokesperson role include media relations, events, strategic counsel on media and messaging, and serving as management deputy to the VP of comms.

The directors of comms for education and science will work to create strategies supporting their respective initiatives while working with the VP of comms and president of their division. Jim Shelton heads up education and Cori Bargmann oversees science.

The comms directors will also oversee events and media relations and support the division president’s digital presence.

The company’s communications function rolls up into policy and advocacy, which is led by division president David Plouffe. The former adviser to President Barack Obama, credited with architecting his 2008 campaign, exited Uber earlier this month. He served as SVP of policy and strategy at the ride-hailing company.

Ken Mehlman, the manager of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, has also joined the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as senior adviser for policy and advocacy.

"It’s always been part of [our] plan to include an advocacy function," Colburn said, pointing to a letter Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned when he founded the initiative with his wife, Priscilla Chan. The couple launched the company shortly after the birth of its daughter, Max, in December 2015 to "advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation."

Colburn said the initiative is not shopping around for a PR agency partner, but will use outside help as necessary, adding, "All of that will be determined on a case-by-case basis."

Late last month, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative made its first acquisition, buying Meta, a search engine startup powered by artificial intelligence. Last September, the initiative promised to donate $3 billion towards fighting disease. Zuckerberg also recently announced his plans to visit all 50 states this year to hear the concerns of people across the country. 

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