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Chinese roots to Silicon Valley branches: How this executive is sharing her faith and shaping the future of tech

A visit to her ancestral village helped spark Marguerite Gong Hancock’s passion for technology and humanity

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Marguerite Gong Hancock, vice president of innovation and programming at Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, focuses her work on innovation across the museum, including events, education, diversity and inclusion. She is also the director of the museum’s Exponential Center.

Jay Watson via LDS Living


With a camera, tape recorder and a suitcase full of clothes in tow, 20-year-old Marguerite Gong is ready to help fulfill a promise her grandfather had made many years before.

It is 1981 and she travels to a small family village in southern China where her 30th great-grandfather, First Dragon Gong, had come to live in AD 837. She lies on a hardwood bed with a thin mattress of straw as second cousins ask about her life. 

They pepper her with questions of what it was like to have teachers, books and libraries. Having never been beyond an hour’s bicycle ride past their village, they listen eagerly as Gong tries in broken Mandarin to describe mountains, oceans, elephants, the Parthenon and the Louvre Museum in Paris.

In contrast, her relatives gather sticks for fuel, own only two outfits and have no running water. But the young woman from California can see that their life is nevertheless abundant, as they have a sense of identity from belonging to a family through generations of time.

“That was just life-changing — it still brings emotion to me,” Marguerite Gong Hancock recalls of the visit. “As a child of a schoolteacher and a professor in Palo Alto, my life was more abundant than I could realize.”

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Marguerite Gong at age 20 shows a camera to children in her ancestral village in China. It was the children’s first time seeing a camera.

Marguerite Gong Hancock via LDS Living

That family village is now a thriving, modern place that Hancock has since visited with her family. The lessons she learned on that first trip to China helped lay a foundation for other important experiences in her life, including her studies at Brigham Young University, Harvard, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a 20-year career at Stanford.

Now the vice president of innovation and programming at Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, Hancock focuses her work on innovation across the museum, including events, education, diversity and inclusion. She is also the director of the museum’s Exponential Center, which captures the past and considers the future of innovation and entrepreneurship. And yet among these many accomplishments, Hancock had her own personal challenges to face as she fought breast cancer and endured the many chemotherapy and radiation treatments that came with it.

As a woman who believes that nothing is more important than her faith and family, Hancock lives with a mindset she saw exemplified in that Gong family home with a dirt floor and a single light bulb: abundance. No matter how difficult the obstacle, or how great the opportunity, she determined then to live her life with the conviction that the blessings she had been given were immeasurable — and she would always strive to live up to them and share them with others.

Read the full story at LDSLiving.com.

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