Graduated from University of Hawaii with B.Ed. and M.Ed., Dr Chan specialised in early childhood education. She was awarded AAUW Scholarship and started the doctoral programme at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the mentorship of Prof. Bernard Spodek. While completing the required coursework, she had to return to Hong Kong to take up her responsibilities at Yew Chung. Returning to the US to pursue her doctorate, she entered the programme at Union Institute (renamed The Union Institute and University in 2001) under the supervision of co-founder of the institute, Prof. Roy P. Fairfield (Harvard), whose philosophy of “a university without walls” became a widely accepted model. Prof. Sarah Smilansky, renowned scholar and author in early childhood education, was one of her advisors at Union. She was awarded her Ph.D. in 1985.
From her extensive training and practice in the US and Hong Kong, Dr Chan has integrated the essence of Eastern and Western education and has accumulated rich experience in teachers' training. Since assuming leadership of the Yew Chung Education Foundation, founded by her mother Madam Tsang Chor-hang, Dr Chan has developed Yew Chung schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Qingdao and Silicon Valley, US.
With her keen interest and specialty in early childhood education, Dr Chan served as the Treasurer of the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (PECERA) between 2004 and 2012. In July 2012, she assumed the Presidency of PECERA International for a three-year term and in July 2015, she was re-elected as the President for another three-year term. Driven by a concern for developing a research culture in Hong Kong and to pull together expertise and professionals that care for young children, Dr Chan set up PECERA’s Hong Kong chapter in 2006 together with a group of enthusiastic educators and has served as President ever since. In 2007, PECERA (Hong Kong) hosted PECERA’s 8th Annual Conference in Hong Kong with over 500 delegates from 18 regions and areas worldwide.
In 2005, Dr Chan was appointed by the Secretary for Home Affairs, HKSAR Government, as the Chairperson of the Sir Jack Cater Scholarship Fund Selection Committee. In 2006, she was invited to be the Chairman of Child Education and Community Services Discipline Board of the Vocational Training Council. She is also the Advisor of the Center for Child Development, Hong Kong Baptist University.
Previously, she has served as a member of the Standing Committee on Language Education Research (SCOLAR), Education Bureau for six years. She was a member of the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications (ACTEQ) and a member of Appeals Board (Education) Hong Kong. She was also appointed as a Hong Kong Convention Ambassador of the Hong Kong Tourism Board during the years 2006-2007.
Internationally, Dr Chan became a member of one of the first groups of female life members of Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation in 1973. Dr Chan was the Convenor and Chairperson of "Childhood in 21st Century" international conference sponsored by UNICEF in 1989. She was the first Chinese Keynote Speaker at the 2004 Alliance for International Education Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany.
In 2010, Dr Chan was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US, in recognition of her pioneering work in ECE and her consistent advocacy for excellence in all levels of education.
In 2014, Dr Chan was awarded the Honorary Fellowship by the Hong Kong Institute of Education in 2014 in recognition of her enormous contribution to education in Hong Kong and beyond.
In 2015, Dr Chan was also conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath, UK for her distinguished career developing and promoting early childhood education and international education with the emphasis on supporting greater understanding between the East and the West and between those of different cultural backgrounds.