Claire-Perkins-Headshot

Major: Public Policy Analysis (PPA), anthropology
Profession: Deputy Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)​
Hometown: San Carlos, California

What are you doing now?

Currently I am on a detail serving as a deputy senior advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), supporting the agency's work on value-based transformation of our health system, and as a senior advisor to the director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, supporting the development and testing of innovative health care payment and service delivery models to improve quality and lower costs. Prior to this role, I was in the Budget Office at HHS for five years, working on financing and policy for Medicare and government-regulated private insurance. I started my time at HHS as a Presidential Management Fellow, and during my fellowship was able to spend six months on the legislative side - working with the Senate Finance Committee's health staff on issues such as the opioid epidemic, drug pricing, and health reform.

How did you get there?

After graduation, I moved back home to the Bay Area and worked for a year at UCSF's AIDS Health Project, following a passion I had developed during my time at Pomona for working with populations impacted by HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and mental health issues. In that role, I developed and delivered trainings to HIV test counselors and researched and wrote articles for their provider publications. Afterwards, I was selected for a Global Health Corps fellowship, and made the move across the country to work at a large safety net hospital in Newark, New Jersey. I worked with the hospital's leadership to implement a culture change program focused on patient-centered care, along with training nurses and medical staff about health literacy and effective patient-provider communication. Afterwards, I decided it was time to go back to school and moved to Boston where I completed my Master of Science in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

How did Pomona prepare you?

I started at Pomona as pre-med [pre-health track], having developed an early interest in nutrition and community health work. When choosing courses, I had one open spot, and by chance my adviser recommended I take a brand-new class called Medical Anthropology. About a month into it, I was hooked - I dropped my general chemistry class and dove fully into the world of the social determinants of health. Sophomore year, I decided I needed a way to pair my academic interests in public health and anthropology with the practical tools of economics, statistics, politics and policy. Public policy analysis (PPA) was the perfect fit. Beyond the course work and incredible faculty, I was able to further my interests by diving into a number of internships including with the East Valley Community Health Center, the L.A. AIDS Coordinator's Office, and a needle exchange program in downtown L.A. Pomona also encouraged me to get into hobbies like hiking and backpacking, and I was a trip leader for On the Loose (OTL), Pomona's amazing outdoors club, for all four years of college. Finally, Pomona gave me my closest friends. We make sure to see each other - even those across the country - many times a year - like for a wedding this past weekend in L.A. and a baby shower in S.F. two weeks later! 

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Continuing to work for evidence-based public policy, to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to live a healthy, happy life. 

Any advice for prospective or current students? 

Take an economics class and a statistics class, utilize your professors, and spend as much time outside in the southern California weather as you can.