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 Health Access California, and Anthony Wright. The 2019 fellow worked with Mayra Alvarez and The Children’s Partnership and Kevin Prindiville and Justice in Aging are currently hosting the 2020 Fellow. 


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

2021-2022 Fellowship

The Peter Harbage Fellowship is honored to have Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director at California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), host the 2021-2022 Fellow. For nearly 30 years, CPEHN has worked to promote health equity by advocating for public policies and sufficient resources to address the health needs of California’s communities of color. With Covid-19, racism, and violence disproportionately impacting communities of color, CPEHN is the perfect choice to host the next Harbage fellow.


The Harbage Fellowship sees the timing of a placement with CPEHN as strategic and important. California is one of the most diverse states in the nation, yet 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 communities of color. In 2021, California has real opportunity to tackle systemic racism within health care and to meaningfully advance health equity. CPEHN’s work in policy as well as community engagement will be instrumental to these efforts. While experience working on health inequities is a plus, we welcome all applicants passionate about health policy and those eager to make an impact on behalf of some of California’s most under resourced communities.


As the fellowship’s fourth mentor, Savage-Sangwan will help the future fellow gain experience in health policy advocacy and coalition building. Savage-Sangwan leads CPEHN’s statewide multicultural health advocacy efforts, focused on eliminating persistent health inequities and addressing structural racism in health care. Prior to becoming Executive Director in 2019, Kiran served as CPEHN Deputy Director and Policy Director. She was the chief architect of the groundbreaking bill to prohibit hospital patient dumping that became California law in 2018. Kiran has been instrumental in positioning CPEHN as a leader in the health equity field, expanding CPEHN’s work in public, mental, and oral health, deepening CPEHN’s local advocacy impact, and developing new partnerships and campaigns.


Savage-Sangwan has a background in immigrant and mental health organizing and advocacy and is currently a member of the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, advocating to substantially reduce the use of force by police against people of color and people living with mental illness. Prior to joining CPEHN, Kiran worked for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and at the New York State Youth Leadership Council.

 March 5, 2021

 April 12-23, 2020

 Late 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.