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APHA and Kaiser Permanente launch program to diversify public health leadership

Date: Oct 27 2021

Contact: Media Relations

Program will provide scholarships to 120 individuals over three years and help 36 emerging leaders launch their public health careers

The American Public Health Association and Kaiser Permanente are working together to support the development of diverse, underrepresented public health leaders who are committed to improving the health of our most vulnerable communities and pursuing health equity for all.

The two organizations have launched a fellowship program and scholarship initiative that will provide $6.8 million over three years to support the first two classes of APHA/KP Community Health Leadership Program, including 100 students slated for MPH degrees and 20 students working toward DrPH degrees. It will provide two years of scholarship funding: $15,000 per year for MPH students, and $20,000 per year for DrPH students. The program also supports an annual fellowship cohort of emerging, diverse leaders who have made a commitment to beginning careers focused on addressing upstream determinants of health in low-income communities.

The effort is geared toward first-generation college graduates, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and people from Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian and other Native communities. By focusing primarily on people of color and first-time students from underserved communities, the program aims to create a pipeline for diverse leadership in public health.

Both scholarships and fellowships will be implemented in partnership with eight public health programs across Kaiser Permanente-served communities: Charles Drew University in Los Angeles; Georgia State University in Atlanta; Morgan State University in Baltimore; Portland State University in Portland; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Colorado in Boulder; the University of Hawaii in Honolulu; and the University of Washington in Seattle.

“The program is really exciting and adds value to the field of public health. It provides a meaningful opportunity for people from communities that have been historically neglected to get experience addressing the many upstream factors that can improve or thwart good health,” said Susan Polan, PhD, APHA associate executive director for public affairs and advocacy. “It creates a pipeline for leadership in public health. APHA is really excited to be a part of this.”

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to investing in America’s public health infrastructure and leadership. Our next generation of public health leaders must reflect and serve our most vulnerable communities to achieve health equity,” said Stephanie Ledesma, interim senior vice president of community health programs. “We are thrilled to welcome the first cohort of Fellows as they continue their leadership journey and work to advance the health of our communities.”

Six fellows have been chosen for the initial cohort receiving this one-year, full-time paid fellowship after undergoing an extensive selection process: Kyla Baron, Alexis Cabarga, Sumaiya Khan, Kekoa Lopez-Paguyo, Camille Millar and Justice Onwordi.

The fellows were required to meet certain requirements and have relevant public health experience to be eligible. Prior work experience in public health or health care, including internships and leadership demonstrations through community involvement or professional associations, was strongly considered.

Students also receive robust learning environments, networking and professional development through APHA and KP conferences, mentorship and work experience opportunities. Beginning in 2022, the program will expand to offer two-year scholarships to outstanding incoming MPH students from diverse, low-income backgrounds, and increase the fellowship cohort to 10.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente at