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Our Mission
Our Mission
Our Mission
Our Mission

Entertain Engage Empower

Unleash the power of storytelling to transform our world

Writers are inspired and informed to make their storylines more compelling and realistic.
Viewers are entertained, engaged, and empowered to change the world.
Popular culture and social policy shape one another to transform global health and well-being.


Music Film
Television New Media
Our Mission
Working with creative capitals around the world.



Founding Director
Sandra de Castro Buffington

Sandra de Castro Buffington is a global leader in entertainment for social change. As the Founding Director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact (GMI) at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, Sandra harnesses the storytelling power of television, film, music and new media to improve health and wellbeing of people worldwide. Sandra works closely with Hollywood and other creative capitals of the world to inspire and develop storylines that have profound impact on knowledge and behavior, and new media tools that move audiences to action. Her research measures the impact of storytelling on viewers and maps the pro-social content on top TV shows. For her work, Sandra was named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in America by PODER magazine in 2011-2012. She is known for her award-winning work in global health and social transformation; 20 years were spent working internationally, and five of those years were spent in residence overseas. Sandra's vasectomy campaign in Brazil earned seven international advertising awards, including a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Film Festival and Gold Medal at the London International Advertising Awards. Formerly director of Hollywood, Health & Society at USC’s Norman Lear Center, Sandra created a global network of centers, including India and Nigeria with the hub in Hollywood, to improve the accuracy of health-related storylines in top TV shows and films. Her groundbreaking work resulted in 565 aired-storylines in 91 shows across 35 networks between 2009 and 2012.


Project Scientist
Neal Baer

Neal Baer is a pediatrician and television writer who combines his passion for medicine and storytelling to challenge audiences' views on a spectrum of social and political topics.  Prior to his work as Executive Producer for Under the Dome, Dr. Baer was Executive Producer of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which received six Emmys and a Golden Globe for acting, and Executive Producer of the NBC hit series ER, where he received five Emmy nominations as a producer and two for writing.  Dr. Baer joined the Department of Community Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health as a Research Scientist in 2013. He recently established The Center for Storytelling, Activism and Health at USC’s Institute for Global Health, now at UCLA, where he is working on projects using new media to promote health initiatives around the world.  In addition, he is also a Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and a Lecturer in the university’s School of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Baer lives in Los Angeles. His son, Caleb, is a student at Williams College.


Dean, Fielding School of Public Health
Jody Heymann

Jody Heymann is the Dean of the Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health and an internationally renowned researcher on health and social policy. Dr. Heymann is founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center which has transformed the quantity and quality of comparative data available to policymakers, citizens, civil society and researchers on policies affecting human health, development, well-being and equity in 193 countries. Deeply committed to translating research into policies and programs that improve individual and population health, Dr. Heymann has worked with government leaders in North America, Europe, Africa and Latin America as well as a wide range of intergovernmental organizations including the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, the World Economic Forum, UNICEF and UNESCO. Central to her efforts is bridging the gap between research and policymakers. Prior to coming to UCLA, Dr. Heymann held a Canadian Chair in Global Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Dr. Heymann has received numerous honors, including election to the National Institute of Medicine in 2013 and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2012.


Program Assistant
Jenny Walton-Wetzel

Jenny Walton-Wetzel comes to GMI via UCLA’s Department of Anthropology, where she is currently working on her PhD. Trained in medical and linguistic anthropology, Jenny is fascinated by how people communicate about illness and healing, suffering and wellbeing. She has conducted fieldwork with chronic pain patients, neurogeneticists, pediatric hospital clowns, hospice patients, veterans, and clinicians providing animal-assisted therapy to disabled children and adults. Her previous research has explored how people use storytelling, humor and mischief to comfort, challenge, and engage each other in these diverse settings. She is excited to join the GMI team and to help build bridges between creative and academic worlds.

Sandra de Castro Buffington is a global leader in entertainment for social change. As the Founding Director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact (GMI) at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, Sandra harnesses the storytelling power of television, film, music and new media to improve health and wellbeing of people worldwide. Sandra works closely with Hollywood and other creative capitals of the world to inspire and develop storylines that have profound impact on knowledge and behavior, and new media tools that move audiences to action. Her research measures the impact of storytelling on viewers and maps the pro-social content on top TV shows. For her work, Sandra was named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in America by PODER magazine in 2011-2012. She is known for her award-winning work in global health and social transformation; 20 years were spent working internationally, and five of those years were spent in residence overseas. Sandra's vasectomy campaign in Brazil earned seven international advertising awards, including a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Film Festival and Gold Medal at the London International Advertising Awards. Formerly director of Hollywood, Health & Society at USC’s Norman Lear Center, Sandra created a global network of centers, including India and Nigeria with the hub in Hollywood, to improve the accuracy of health-related storylines in top TV shows and films. Her groundbreaking work resulted in 565 aired-storylines in 91 shows across 35 networks between 2009 and 2012.

Neal Baer is a pediatrician and television writer who combines his passion for medicine and storytelling to challenge audiences' views on a spectrum of social and political topics.  Prior to his work as Executive Producer for Under the Dome, Dr. Baer was Executive Producer of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which received six Emmys and a Golden Globe for acting, and Executive Producer of the NBC hit series ER, where he received five Emmy nominations as a producer and two for writing.  Dr. Baer joined the Department of Community Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health as a Research Scientist in 2013. He recently established The Center for Storytelling, Activism and Health at USC’s Institute for Global Health, now at UCLA, where he is working on projects using new media to promote health initiatives around the world.  In addition, he is also a Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and a Lecturer in the university’s School of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Baer lives in Los Angeles. His son, Caleb, is a student at Williams College.

Jody Heymann is the Dean of the Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health and an internationally renowned researcher on health and social policy. Dr. Heymann is founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center which has transformed the quantity and quality of comparative data available to policymakers, citizens, civil society and researchers on policies affecting human health, development, well-being and equity in 193 countries. Deeply committed to translating research into policies and programs that improve individual and population health, Dr. Heymann has worked with government leaders in North America, Europe, Africa and Latin America as well as a wide range of intergovernmental organizations including the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, the World Economic Forum, UNICEF and UNESCO. Central to her efforts is bridging the gap between research and policymakers. Prior to coming to UCLA, Dr. Heymann held a Canadian Chair in Global Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Dr. Heymann has received numerous honors, including election to the National Institute of Medicine in 2013 and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2012.

Jenny Walton-Wetzel comes to GMI via UCLA’s Department of Anthropology, where she is currently working on her PhD. Trained in medical and linguistic anthropology, Jenny is fascinated by how people communicate about illness and healing, suffering and wellbeing. She has conducted fieldwork with chronic pain patients, neurogeneticists, pediatric hospital clowns, hospice patients, veterans, and clinicians providing animal-assisted therapy to disabled children and adults. Her previous research has explored how people use storytelling, humor and mischief to comfort, challenge, and engage each other in these diverse settings. She is excited to join the GMI team and to help build bridges between creative and academic worlds.

Events
View Archived Events
07.17.2014
“Define American” 6:30pm, Writers Guild of America, West
Special Activities Room
A panel on immigration featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and undocumented American, Jose Antonio Vargas. Invite Only
WORLD-CLASS PARTNERS
The Nathan Cummings Foundation The Fielding School of Public Health Writers Guild of America-West The Film & Television Producers Guild of India LTD The United Nations Foundation World Policy Analysis Center