From October 2013 to April 2014, I had the unique opportunity to track and witness the progress of health care reform in California.

Andrea Jones was an intern for the Foundation’s domestic program team, 2013 – 2014.

In June 2014, I completed an internship with the domestic program team at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. When I first accepted the position in October 2013, I was not quite sure where the internship would lead me. I was the Foundation’s first-ever intern with no prior experience with a strategic grantmaking foundation. Yet, I was excited to embark on this new adventure and opportunity. As a graduate student at UCLA School of Public Affairs, I was interested in pursuing a career in the philanthropic sector and wanted to learn more about the intersection of public policy and philanthropy.

My main internship project was to examine the potential implications of health care reform in California on the Foundation’s domestic strategic initiatives and major program areas: substance abuse prevention and early intervention, ending chronic homelessness, supporting transition-age foster youth, and overcoming Multiple Sclerosis.

At the time I began my internship, the debate over health care reform took center stage in politics and the media. The countdown to the January 1, 2014 deadline was fast approaching, sparking questions and widespread confusion about various provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, like many philanthropic funders, had specific questions and concerns about the ACA implementation and its potential effects on the Foundation’s domestic program areas. Consequently, I set out to examine the issues and provide answers to the Foundation’s questions.

From October 2013 to April 2014, I had the unique opportunity to track and witness the progress of health care reform in California. I interacted with experts and non-profit leaders at the forefront of the health care reform movement. These conversations deepened my understanding of the complexity of the law and its implementation. I also gained exposure to outstanding non-profits working to support reforms in the health care system and improve the health outcomes of Californians. In addition, I reviewed policy briefs, participated in webinars, and engaged in conversations with program staff in order to stay afloat on health care reforms and system changes.

With these research findings, I authored a report, “The Affordable Care Act: Medi-Cal Opportunities and Challenges.” It describes the opportunities under the ACA to improve access and quality to health care under Medi-Cal. It also discusses challenges associated with the ACA implementation, and identifies promising practices to overcome these challenges. The report gave me the opportunity to inform Foundation staff on important policy issues and implications for their priority areas.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked on this important project over the last eight months, alongside staff who are passionate and committed to addressing the needs of those who are underserved. As my internship at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation comes to a close, I know this experience will be beneficial throughout my career. This internship not only allowed me to apply the skills directly from my course work to the workplace, but it also helped expand my understanding of the role of philanthropy in influencing public policy and creating systemic change. Moreover, it has solidified my desire to build a fruitful career in the philanthropic sector. To that end, I am committed and motivated more than ever to continue my journey in the world of philanthropy and policy-making.

Andrea received her Master’s in Public Policy from UCLA in June 2014.