Storytelling Brings What’s Hidden Into The Light

Sandra de Castro Buffington

As an acclaimed public speaker and leading authority on storytelling, consciousness, and social impact, I catalyze audiences and creative capitals worldwide using social impact entertainment, and conscious media to awaken viewers and ignite change. 

My work in developing countries for more than 20+ years uplifts the health and well-being of women, girls, and families. I empower writers and producers of television, film, and emerging media to integrate storylines that entertain, and at the same time positively impact popular culture and move viewers to action. During this time, I’ve served as:

  • Founder and president of StoryAction, LLC
  • Founder and former director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact at UCLA, and
  • Former director of Hollywood, Health & Society at USC

My signature “Story Tour” series immerses TV creators and filmmakers in new cultures in India, South Africa, and local communities in the United States to inspire social impact entertainment. I also work with UNFPA and the Cairo International Film Festival to create and present the Conscious Media Award in recognition of exemplary social impact cinema in the Arab World, Middle East, and Africa. 

The masterclasses and panels I deliver on stories of awakening and change, gender-based violence on the screen, and social impact entertainment were met with critical acclaim in the US, India, Egypt, Japan, Australia, Europe, and beyond.

Are You Inspired?

How does it show up in your life, work, and the stories you tell? Or do you need help?

Honors & Awards

In one three-year period, my groundbreaking work resulted in 565 storylines on 91 shows across 35 networks. For this work, I was named one of the “Nation’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics” by PODER Hispanic magazine in 2012, “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” by the World Film Institute in 2014, and “Honorary Maverick” by the Female Eye Film Festival in 2015.

Nominated member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, a project of the Source of Synergy Foundation, founded by Deepak Chopra.

Evolutionary Leaders Circle

Society for Public Health Education, 2016 Presidential Citation. For contributions to SOPHE’s Textbook, Introduction to Global Health Promotion.

Presidential Citation

Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto, Canada. Honorary Maverick Award. For groundbreaking work with the entertainment industry to inspire storytelling for social change.

Honorary Maverick Award

Honorary Maverick Award

Honorary Maverick Award

World Film Institute, American Riviera Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ARWEY). Celebrating women entrepreneurs as agents of change.

Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ARWEY)

Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ARWEY)

PODER Hispanic magazine named one of the Nation’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics.

Nation's 100 Most Influential Hispanics

Nation's 100 Most Influential Hispanics

USAID Superior Performance Award for outstanding effort and exemplary leadership in guiding the Office of Population’s Management and Leadership Framework design process.

USAID Global Bureau Group Award for Excellence in Performance over a very challenging period.

USAID Maximizing Access and Quality (MAQ) Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of exemplary leadership of the Policy, Advocacy, Communication, and Education (PACE) Subcommittee.

Award from the Bahia State Brazil Secretariat of Health in recognition of leadership and skill in developing and improving the quality of Bahia State’s Reproductive Health program.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions to the taping of the “Promises to Keep” video encouraging people with disabilities to return to the workforce and motivating managers who employ them.

With Denison Advertising, Brazil. For the production of an animated television spot on “Acts of Love” promoting vasectomy. Awarded:

  • Bronze Lion: Cannes Film Festival, International Advertising Award, France, 1990
  • Gold Medal: London International Advertising Awards, Retail Sales Division, England, 1989
  • Bronze Medal: Television and Cinema Advertising Competition of the International Film and Television Industry, New York, 1989
  • Silver Medal: Anuario do Clube de Criacao de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1990
  • Silver Medal: Colunistas de Propaganda de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1990
  • Award of Popular Vote: Diarios Associados, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1990
  • Nomination for Professionals of the Year Award: TV Globo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1990

A Few More Details

As a young adult, I lived among indigenous people in remote parts of Latin American and Canada. It inspired my career of giving back through social impact storytelling and transformative programs toward empowerment and justice for all.

Family

I am Brazilian-American and have 2 grown children that I adore.

Languages

I speak 4 languages. I'm fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. Conversant in French.

Sandra de Castro Buffington

50+ Countries

I have worked in and traveled to more than 50 countries.

Vegan Yogini

I'm a long time practitioner of Kriya Yoga Meditation and have been vegan for 6+ years.

Sandra de Castro Buffington

Official Bio

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, she launched her signature Story Tour series to take writers and producers into communities to learn from real people on the ground about solutions to rape culture, human trafficking, mass incarceration and more. In partnership with the Writers Guild of America West, she created a 10-year series of panels to inspire stories about racial justice, immigration, sexual consent, trans youth, and more. 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. She completed fellowships with the Population Leadership Program of the Public Health Institute and the Johns Hopkins University Health and Child Survival Fellows Program. 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. She is Co-Founder of the Evolutionary Leaders Bridging Synergy Circle to embrace differences and cross divides, and a “brain trust” member of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Civic Health to reduce toxic partisan polarization. She 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.

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