About the Fellowship

Every year, the Peter Harbage Fellowship provides one exceptional young person a year-long experience to deepen learning and capabilities in leadership and health care policy within California.

The fellowship is the vision of Peter Harbage, who was a leader and innovator in California’s health policy field for decades until his untimely death in 2015. Peter had a gift for bringing together diverse stakeholders to solve problems and develop innovative policy. In the process, he became a friend and resource to many colleagues and a mentor to many young people entering the health policy field. Whether they were relocating to California from Washington D.C. or transitioning from another field into health issues, Peter provided guidance, connections and many times, a job. The number of individuals Peter mentored and supported is truly impressive.

In the midst of battling cancer, Peter wanted his legacy to continue building future leadership within the California health policy community. To that end, Peter provided funds for a fellowship program that will make it possible for new health policy graduates to work in a special role at an organization focused on improving health in California. We are counting on today’s health care leaders to spread the word about this incredible opportunity that will carry Peter's name.

The fellowship is an opportunity for students completing graduate degrees in the fields of public policy or public health to apply for a one-year fellowship with a host organization under the mentorship of a seasoned and talented health policy veteran. Peter envisioned young people having the opportunity to learn from some of the most effective and strategic leaders in the health policy field acquiring knowledge and skills in their fellowship year that might otherwise take them years to develop. The fellow will be placed with a mentor with a reputation for making positive impacts on the health policy field. The fellowship will provide salary and benefits for the one-year position. In addition, over the course of the year, the fellow will have the opportunity for ongoing leadership development by meeting innovators in health policy, including current and past secretaries of health, state and county directors of health services and public health, the current director of Covered California, legislative leadership and staffers, health plan CEOs, health care association leaders, or leaders within the advocacy community. These meetings will be facilitated by the fellowship for the fellow and will further shape understanding of all the dimensions of the health care landscape, resulting in a new leader more positioned to impact health care policy.

The 2018 fellow worked with Anthony Wright and Health Access California.


The 2019 fellow worked with Mayra Alvarez and The Children’s Partnership.


The 2020 fellow worked with Kevin Prindiville and Justice in Aging.


Kiran Savage Sangwan and CPEHN are currently hosting the two 2021 fellows. 


Qualified Candidates

The Peter Harbage Fellowship will be looking for candidates who are about to graduate from or recently graduated from a public policy or public health graduate level program at universities in California and the University of Michigan (Peter’s alma mater). The fellow will be passionate about health policy, dedicated to improving health care for all Californians and work collaboratively and strategically with others. The fellowship will seek individuals with experience contributing to the health policy field in some way, as well as those just starting out for whom the fellowship would afford a unique opportunity to enhance learning and leadership. Applicants from diverse backgrounds and those with a commitment to California’s communities of color are strongly encouraged to apply.






If you are a professor or administrator at a graduate school program and want to learn more, send inquiries to Ingrid Aguirre Happoldt at iahappoldt@gmail.com

2022-2023 Fellowship

The Peter Harbage Fellowship is honored to announce that Kelly Hardy and Mike Odeh, Senior Managing Director of Health and Research and Senior Director of Health Policy (respectively) at Children Now , will co-mentor the 2021-2022 Fellow.


Children Now believes that all children deserve timely, quality, affordable, coordinated and culturally-sensitive health care, nutrition, and other services that allow them to learn, grow, and thrive. With the disruptions in education and mental health challenges brought by the pandemic, racial disparities in childhood chronic disease, and the ongoing importance of improving Medi-Cal coverage and access for California’s children, Children Now is the perfect choice to host the next Harbage fellow.


Kelly Hardy, Mike Odeh and team have been leading Children Now’s health policy agenda including: providing caregivers with the support they need to foster their kids’ healthy development from before they are born, advocating for a system that provides timely, quality, affordable, coordinated, and culturally-sensitive medical, dental, and behavioral health services for all children, and lifting up the unique needs of Black and brown children that are often forgotten in the health system.

The Harbage Fellowship sees the timing of a placement with Children Now as strategic and important. California is one of the most diverse and wealthy states in the nation, yet 25% of our young children live in poverty. The pandemic and efforts to build a movement for racial justice only highlight that California often falls short in delivering high quality culturally responsive care and access to children in communities of color. While experience working on children’s health issues and racial inequities is a plus, we welcome all applicants passionate about health policy and those eager to make an impact on behalf of California’s kids in the most under-resourced communities.


As the fellowship’s fifth mentors, Hardy and Odeh will help the future fellow gain experience in health policy advocacy and coalition building. Hardy has worked in health policy at the federal, state and county levels, focusing on Medicaid and access to care. In Washington, D.C., she advocated for reproductive rights and on behalf of breast cancer organizations. In California, Hardy worked with the California Health and Human Services Agency’s Assistant Secretary on Medi-Cal waivers, and oversaw the Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, and food stamp budgets for the Alameda County Social Services Agency.


Odeh brings extensive health policy and advocacy expertise to Children Now, where his work focuses on health coverage, access, quality, financing, and care delivery. Previously, Odeh worked at Health Access, a California health care consumer advocacy organization, and at the Center for Children and Families at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.


Both Hardy and Odeh were mentored by Peter Harbage when they first arrived on the California health policy scene and are now leading voices for California’s children, so the fellowship is grateful that they have agreed to share mentorship responsibilities and provide the next fellow with two seasoned veterans from which to learn.


 March 11, 2022

 March 23-25, 2022

 Early April

Application Due Date

Video Interviews with Candidates

Fellow Selected



The Peter Harbage Fellowship is made possible through our partnership with Tides Foundation, a grant from Blue Shield of California Foundation and the gift from Peter’s estate. In addition, hundreds of donors, many of whom were colleagues of Peter and friends of the Harbage family gave donations that helped the fellowship get started.


If you are a fellowship donor or a friend of the fellowship and want to be kept abreast of future developments or fundraising efforts, we will soon have a way for you to sign up and provide us your email. We’ll be sure to send updates from time to time to let you know how your generous gift is making Peter’s vision a reality.


Peter had extensive experience in Medicaid financing and the options open to states and counties for accessing federal funds. He helped lead the team in California that originally conceptualized the nation’s first Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program and used that experience to provide policy and operational advice on DSRIP to state agencies and health systems in Massachusetts, Texas, and New York. Peter served as an Assistant Secretary for Health at the California Health and Human Services Agency under Governor Gray Davis and as a Special Assistant to the Administrator of the federal Health Care Financing Administration during the Clinton Administration. He started his career as a Medicaid budget analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


From 2003 to 2008, Peter served as the senior health policy advisor to presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards. In 2007, he worked extensively with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care reform team in California in his role at the New America Foundation and was a Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Peter’s expertise and insight made him a frequent source for reporters nationwide. He appeared on CNN and NPR and has been cited in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee. Peter also taught on the American health care system at the University of Southern California and was a frequent contributor to USC’s Annenberg School for Communication’s Health Journalism Fellowship program.


In 2014, Peter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. He died from complications from a bone marrow transplant to treat the disease in February 2015. Peter spent his last 18 months more dedicated than ever to working toward an America where everyone has access to high-quality health care. Peter’s belief in what health care could become was responsible for his success in developing national health care policy and advising policy makers at all levels of government. His intelligence, compassion and positive attitude gave him the strength to face challenges with courage, humor, and resilience. It is our hope that the Peter Harbage Fellowship will keep Peter’s legacy alive and tell his story.



To donate to the Peter Harbage Fellowship, click on the button below which will take you to Tides Foundation. Look for the drop down menu under “I want my donation to be designated toward” and select Peter Harbage Fellowshp-2117.

While Peter’s gift will enable us to get started, we are hoping to fund ten fellows over the next ten years so we appreciate any additional funding or support you can give to help us achieve that goal.