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Blue Shield of California to Invest $7 Million in New Health Equity Fellowship at UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Investment supports graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds, with a focus on developing diverse healthcare leaders

OAKLAND, Calif. (May 19, 2022) – Blue Shield of California today announced it will invest $7 million over five years for a new fellowship program at UC Berkeley School of Public Health to support graduate students from underrepresented communities. The program, which aims to increase diversity among health professionals, will train fellows to leverage data and analytics to improve public health and advance health equity. 

The first cohort of 20 students in the Blue Shield of California Health Equity Fellowship program will begin in August 2022. Over the next five years, the program will support approximately 100 master’s and doctoral candidates, funding students from a diverse range of communities – including African American, Native American, Latinx, and Pacific Islander backgrounds – groups that are under-represented in the healthcare industry in California, particularly in senior leadership positions.

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The nonprofit health plan also will provide fellows with real-world professional experiences –including internships and access to mentors – to address complex healthcare challenges. Blue Shield anticipates hiring many of the fellows upon graduation.

“The health inequities that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us the need to build healthcare policies and practices in a culturally sensitive way,” said DD Johnice, vice president of the Health Transformation Lab at Blue Shield of California. “Having members of underrepresented communities on the teams that design and build new health solutions, as well as lead innovative healthcare organizations, is critical to transforming health care. We cannot achieve health equity without growing and supporting diverse, top talent.”

UC Berkeley School of Public Health Dean Michael C. Lu said, “This fellowship will create a pipeline of underrepresented talent in public health and offer wrap-around support – including tutoring and mentoring, projects and internships, cohort experience, and leadership development – to assure their success. I am grateful to Blue Shield of California for their partnership in helping us build a better and stronger, more diverse and inclusive public health system.”

In addition to financial support, the fellowship offers students a robust set of resources and opportunities, including:

  • Early outreach and recruitment to prospective fellows
  • Tutoring and career services
  • Leadership and professional development workshops
  • Educational and mental health counseling
  • Social activities and networking opportunities with fellowship alumni
  • Opportunities to apply biostatistics and advanced analytics expertise to real business challenges
  • Internships at Blue Shield of California and access to mentors at the health plan

“At Blue Shield, we want to create a healthcare system that’s worthy of all our family and friends, and sustainably affordable. Ensuring that care is equitable is a big part of that, and one way we can help make that happen is employing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, who can use analytics and relate to the needs of our members,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO, Blue Shield of California. “I’m excited about this program because it creates a path to do just that, and I look forward to welcoming the first fellows this fall.”

Blue Shield is committed to accelerating career growth for diverse employees by recruiting, hiring, and retaining such talent at all levels. The health plan’s initiatives include:

  • Blue Shield’s signature youth mental health initiative BlueSky, which supports Health Career Connection’s summer internship program to help build the next generation of diverse mental and behavioral health professionals and leaders in California
  • Blue Shield’s career development programs for employees at every level, helping to ensure internal mobility and offer employees exposure, experiences, leadership and skills training, and tools to grow in their roles and prepare for promotions
  • Mentorship and sponsorship programs for employees from underrepresented communities with guidance, advocacy, and strong connections within the organization
  • Access to bachelor’s and master’s programs at no cost to employees


About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax-paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with over 4.5 million members, over 7,500 employees, and more than $21 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid, and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $192 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last five years to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit Or follow us on LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook.


About UC Berkeley School of Public Health

For more than 75 years, UC Berkeley School of Public Health has been a global health leader in research innovation, educational excellence, and social impact. Berkeley Public Health’s network of faculty, students, alumni (more than 18,000), and partners innovate and collaborate to solve the most pressing public health problems of our time: climate change, pandemic outbreaks, chronic diseases, and social inequality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes Berkeley Public Health as one of nine health promotion and disease prevention research centers around the nation.  For more news about UC Berkeley School of Public Health, please visit Or follow us on LinkedInTwitter, Instagram, or Facebook.7