Sandra de Castro Buffington
Sandra de Castro Buffington is a global leader in social impact entertainment and a pioneer in conscious media. Sandra’s groundbreaking work with Hollywood and international creative capitals has ignited new narratives of transformation and innovation worldwide. She has worked in 50 countries over 20+ years on behalf of women, girls and families.
As Founder and President of StoryAction, LLC; Founder and former Director of UCLA’s Global Media Center for Social Impact; and former Director of USC’s Hollywood, Health and Society, Sandra has worked with film, television and emerging media professionals to accurately and consciously reflect the most important topics of our time from rape culture to human trafficking, immigration to mass incarceration, health to sustainability, nonviolence to mindfulness.
Working extensively with Hollywood, and creative communities in India, Egypt, and Brazil among others, has given Sandra a global perspective on the profound impact storytelling has on consciousness and behavior, and the limitless possibilities for the role media can play in transforming culture worldwide. She leads research to measure the impact of pro-social storylines on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior, and has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, such as Health Communication, Global Public Health, and American Journal of Media Psychology.
Sandra is Co-Producer of an important new film in development entitled, BRAINWASHED, which reveals how common cinematic shot design techniques disempower, fragment and isolate women and girls.
During Sandra’s tenure at UCLA’s Global Media Center for Social Impact, Sandra’s groundbreaking work led to social impact storylines including a Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) episode on rape that resulted in a 43% increase in calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN). For her work, she was awarded the World Film Institute’s American Riviera Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014, The Female Eye Film Festival’s Honorary Maverick Award in 2015, and a Presidential Citation from the Society for Public Health Education in 2016.
As the former Director of USC’s Hollywood, Health & Society, Sandra provided resources to Hollywood’s creative community with the goal of improving the accuracy of health-related storylines on top television programs and films, resulting in 565 storylines that aired on 91 television shows across 35 networks from 2009-2012. Her work inspired a 90210 (CW) multi-episode story arc on breast cancer and the BRCA gene, resulting in 11.9% of viewers reporting they had scheduled screening appointments with their doctors. For her work, Sandra was named by PODER Hispanic Magazine as one of “The Nation’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics” in 2012.
Sandra created a global network of centers for social impact entertainment, with Hollywood as the hub. In India, she launched the first global center in collaboration with the Asian Center for Entertainment Education in 2011, which is serving as a resource for accurate health and impact information for Bollywood’s film and TV industries, and a center in Nigeria to work with Nollywood. Sandra created, on behalf of UNFPA/Egypt, the “Conscious Media Award” for the Cairo International Film Festival, the longest-running festival in the Middle East, Arab world and Africa, and presented the prestigious award in 2018 and 2019.
Formerly Vice President of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), Sandra guided the flagship Women Lead program to equip, mobilize and empower women globally and nurtured a network of 5,000 alumni in 140 countries. With the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Sandra launched an award-winning vasectomy promotion TV campaign in Brazil, earning seven international advertising awards in 1989-1990, including a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lion Festival, Gold Medal at the London International Advertising Awards, and Bronze Medal at Television and Cinema Advertising Competition in New York, and increased vasectomies by 80% in Sao Paulo.
Sandra earned a Master of Public Health degree from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science from the College of Santa Fe, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a scholarship for women in science. Among her numerous honors, Sandra received the USAID Maximizing Access and Quality Outstanding Achievement Award and Brazil’s Award for Leadership in Bahia State in 1997.
Sandra was nominated a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, founded by Deepak Chopra, in 2018. She is former associate faculty at The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and a past Board member of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation. Sandra served on the boards of Harvard Medical School’s Personal Genomics Education Project, Venice Arts, Women @ The Frontier, and the Foundation for Conscious Evolution. Sandra is Brazilian-American, fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish, and proficient in French. Sandra seeks to elevate consciousness and improve health, justice and well-being through storytelling and impact campaigns worldwide.