Mark Zuckerberg, right, founder and CEO of Facebook, and wife Priscilla Chan
Photograph by Stephen Lam — Reuters

Former U.S. Department of Education deputy secretary Jim Shelton joins the organization.

By Kia Kokalitcheva
May 4, 2016

The philanthropic foundation of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, has hired former U.S. Education Department deputy secretary Jim Shelton, Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.

Shelton, who has also worked at the Gates Foundation and a public education tech company, will lead the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s education efforts. Chan and Zuckerberg announced the foundation last year when their daughter, Max, was born. They also pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook shares, over their lifetime, to philanthropy.

The foundation’s education efforts will focus on personalized learning and underserved communities, Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook.

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“I’ve seen the difference software can make in how we teach and learn. Priscilla’s work as a pediatrician and a teacher has taught her how important life outside the classroom is to a child’s ability to learn inside it. And now Jim will bring all of his own experience in improving personalized learning and helping underserved communities,” he wrote.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was initially controversial because of its limited liability corporation status instead of a non-profit. Zuckerberg has defended the decision by saying it affords the organization more flexibility when it comes to allocating funds.

Shelton is only the latest Washington official to go work for Silicon Valley. Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe is currently an advisor for ride-hailing company Uber, while former Clinton advisor Chris Lehane has joined home-sharing company Airbnb. Former White House press secretary Jay Carney is now a senior vice president for corporate affairs at Amazon.

In March, Emerson Collective, an organization founded by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, hired former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to lead efforts focused on young people in Chicago.

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