Alumni Changemaker: Tam Ma

Alumni Changemaker: Tam Ma

Advancing policy that supports health, safety, and equity of society

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alum Tam Ma completed her fellowship at Princeton University in 2001.


Tam Ma embodies the values of compassion, commitment and justice.

After receiving both her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, her journey began as a legislative aid and soon thereafter a policy consultant in the California State Senate.She returned to Berkeley for her J.D. 

After law school, she began practicing law at Shriver Civil Counsel Act Project. Run by the Legal Services of Northern California, the focus of her efforts and that of the project was not only to provide legal services to the poor but to figure out how to reduce the causes and impact of poverty on society as a whole. 

Her ongoing support as a board member of the Women’s Foundation California remained another pathway for her to contribute directly to systemic injustices whether it be gender, racial or economically driven ones.

The California State Legislature, holding the principal lawmaking power of the state, was the next phase of her commitment to justice. Here she held the position of Principal Consultant to the Office of the Senator and was able to offer both wisdom and passion towards an even broader spectrum.

Her legal expertise and desire for justice began to concentrate on healthcare as the Legal and Policy Director at Health Access California, an advocacy coalition for quality affordable health care for all of California’s residents. With the coalition acting on behalf of many of the underserved communities, Tam Ma’s policy work became a tool and incentive for grassroots organizations to continue their efforts.

“Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, as it should be. People’s lives are at stake, both their personal health and their financial security.”

She continued her commitment to health as the Assistant Secretary for California Health and Human Services where she expanded her reach beyond healthcare to include mental and social services.

Most recently, she was appointed Deputy Legislative Secretary by the Governor of California and her highly accomplished public service continues as she oversees the enactment of policy for the state of California.

Tam Ma has been the past President and current board member of My Sister’s House which provides ongoing support and services to underserved women and children who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking.  

She is also on the Board of Directors for the Berkeley Law Alumni Association where she helps to strengthen relationships between alumni, faculty and students thus furthering the advancement of justice from another perspective.

In 2017, she was chosen by Sacramento Magazine who contracted with a private research service to locate the top lawyers in Sacramento. Tam Ma was selected for her knowledge and efforts related to healthcare law.

Tam Ma has a timeline of public service that continues to shape policy and refine those aspects of society that are less than equitable or just. When it comes to law, she leaves not even the smallest rock unturned recognizing the depth of impact it could have on a given sector of society.



Thank you Tam Ma, for your continued efforts on behalf of the most basic needs of human life. You recognize the consequences for those unable to access care of any type and are working to keep that from happening through the application of law and policy. Security is a foundation upon which human potential can awaken and your time and skillset is creating space for that to happen.


Read more Changemaker profiles here!