About Sandra de Castro Buffington
Sandra de Castro Buffington is director of Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center that leverages the power of the entertainment industry to improve the health and well being of people worldwide. Sandra provides resources to leading scriptwriters and producers with the goal of improving the accuracy of health-related storylines on top television programs and films, resulting in more than 565-aired storylines across 91 shows and 35 networks over the span of three years. Funded by the CDC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Skoll Foundation, among others, the program recognizes the profound impact that entertainment media have on individual knowledge and behavior. For her work, Poder Magazine named Sandra one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in America.
In 2013, Sandra designed and launched a global network of centers for entertainment education in India and Nigeria, with the hub in LA, to mainstream socially provocative cinema and television. To inspire global health storylines in television and film, Sandra pioneered a program of outreach for Hollywood’s creative community in the form of research trips to South Africa and India, panels at the Writers Guild of America West, and expert briefings for writers of top dramas. The result was a seven-fold increase in global health TV storylines across 15 shows and nine networks from 2007–2012. She created the HH&S Climate Change Storytelling Initiative to inspire climate-related storylines in television, film and new media. Through Storybus Tours, Sandra takes writers and producers to hear real stories of real people and places—unusual, compelling and dramatic—from climate scientists, other experts and community members on the ground.
Sandra is known for her award-winning work in global health, entertainment, and social transformation. She has nearly 30 years of experience; 20 years were spent working internationally, and five of those years were spent in residence overseas.
Formerly vice president of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), Sandra guided the flagship WomenLead program to equip, mobilize and empower women globally and nurtured a network of 5,000 alumni in 140 countries. With USAID, she led the development of a $250 million strategic framework for global health leadership and management and managed a $108 million portfolio of strategic communication programs worldwide. With Johns Hopkins University, she coordinated the first International Entertainment for Social Change conference at the USC Annenberg School and recently co-sponsored the 5th Entertainment Education for Social Change conference in New Delhi, India, to use the power of the entertainment industry and expertise of health experts for social transformation worldwide. With the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Sandra launched an award-winning vasectomy promotion campaign in Brazil, earning seven international advertising awards, including a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Film Festival and Gold Medal at the London International Advertising Awards.
Sandra has received numerous honors and awards, including the USAID Maximizing Access and Quality Outstanding Achievement Award for her global health and social change programs, and Brazil’s Award for Leadership in developing the Bahia State Reproductive Health program. She is a former associate faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and a past board member of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation. She currently serves on the boards of the Harvard Medical School Personal Genetics Education Project, Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Women@The Frontier, and Primary Purpose Productions. Sandra is Brazilian-American, fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish, and proficient in French. She serves as an inspirational speaker worldwide.