Q&A with Baljeet Sangha, president of the Public Health Alumni Association

baljeet sangha

Baljeet S. Sangha MPH ’10 is president of the Public Health Alumni Association. He is also the deputy chief operating officer and chief patient experience officer at San Francisco General Hospital, the safety net hospital for San Francisco County, the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving San Francisco and northern San Mateo Counties, and the only provider of 24/7 psychiatric emergency services in San Francisco. His interests include quality, performance, and operational improvement, community wellness, and workforce and patient experience. He is also a board member of the California Association of Healthcare Leaders, chair of its Higher Education Network Committee, and cochair of its Affiliate Outreach Committee.

Q. What motivated you to become involved in the Public Health Alumni Association?
A. During my time as a student at the School of Public Health, I recalled the Alumni Association from orientation week and a networking event. I had really enjoyed that networking event and thought it was a great way to continue to build relationships among the Public Health disciplines, especially for students who are just entering the field and are eager to learn from their future colleagues and alumni. That experience motivated me to join the Public Health Alumni Association in an effort to make the PHAA a consistent presence in the lives of current students and codify that presence to bring additional value to the student experience. Thus, the students can have opportunities to engage with alumni and the alumni could have opportunities to give back to the field and the SPH beyond a monetary donation.

Q. What would you like to see PHAA accomplish while you are president?
A. I’d like to see the PHAA increase the involvement of students, alumni, and the SPH faculty and staff in three major areas: professional development and networking, diversity and scholarship, and resource mobilization. A major accomplishment would be for the PHAA to coalesce around these topics and establish consistent bilateral methods of communicating developments in these areas to and from the alumni and students. UC Berkeley’s SPH has the proud honor to have alumni who are at the forefront of public health issues and are doing phenomenal work, so it’s the job of the PHAA to continue to recognize this and celebrate this in the spirit of lifelong learning. Further, the development of strategic plans will allow us to measure our progress in meeting the needs of our alumni and students around these three areas so the PHAA can be viewed as an intrinsic element in the SPH and active in a variety of ways, beyond just the traditional element of fundraising.

Q. What are some of the challenges facing PHAA? What are some of the opportunities?
A. Given the diversity of our alumni in all areas personal and professional, we are eager to bring forward value-added opportunities that resonate with them. The challenging part will be to identify what those opportunities are, as some things resonate with some and others do not, and what the best way would be to communicate that. In the age of social media, mass marketing, and mail solicitations, we will be challenged to ensure the PHAA messaging doesn’t get lost in that sea. Similarly, we will be challenged to get the alumni—regardless of their physical location—more involved in the happenings of the School so they are just as involved as they were when they attended it. We have some great opportunities in the fact that we are entering an extremely exciting time period in the history of the School with the fresh perspectives and energy of new and continuing members of the PHAA board; Dean Stefano Bertozzi leading key strategic planning efforts; and the progress around the development of a new campus facility.

Q. What would you like to say to your classmates and fellow alumni?
A. I’d like to say to my classmates, fellow alumni, current students, and faculty and staff: thank you. They all continue to make UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health an institution we can be proud graduates of, and continue to teach us the value of strong professional and personal relationships. I trust they will continue to pay it forward in the form of mentorship in the field, and involvement in the School of Public Health activities. Their thoughts, opinions, and concerns are so crucial, and I hope the PHAA can become a better conduit for channeling those ideas toward positive action.