While interning with fashion house Proenza Schouler one summer during college, Barbara Bush took a break to accompany her First Parents to East Africa on an AIDS relief mission. “I saw hundreds of HIV–positive people waiting for drugs that in the U.S. they would have had access to,” she says. Six years later, she cofounded Global Health Corps, a not-for-profit dedicated to building the next generation of global health leaders by recruiting young talent from a variety of fields, such as engineering and supply-chain management, and securing them year-long stints at HIV and women’s health organizations desperate for creative thinkers. Last year marked the organization’s graduation from what Bush calls “startup mode.” Some 50% of Global Health Corps’ 322 fellows “have now been offered leadership positions where they did their fellowships,” she says, “and 10% of our alums are working for ministers of health in their home countries, which is where policy is made.”
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
Everywhere! Travel, wandering in New York, meeting new people, brainstorming with our Global Health Corps fellows. And, mostly from identifying gaps or needs. I love listening, and learning, and doing my best to understand a need. The need comes first, then the ideas. I’m also an endorphin freak, and working out, running, and playing certainly creates the proper mind setting for creativity.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Snuggle with my cat, or rather move my cat off of my pillow. Drink iced coffee, meditate and exercise–typically fun cardio, dance and trampoline jumping.
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
I live in a dorm for the summer–we convene Global Health Corps’ fellow training and orientation at Yale University. So, our entire team moves into a dorm in New Haven for the month of July.
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
NatGeo to satisfy wanderlust and inspire awe about our magical world, Apiece Apart (or, rather, Apiece Apart’s blog) as a reminder that beauty is in simplicity, and Thefatjewish for inappropriate laughs (promise I’m a good person).
How do you keep track of everything you have to do? Can you send us a snapshot of your to-do list?
Oh lord. Lists, lists, lists. And emails to myself in the middle of the night.
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
I love creative people and dreamers. But, I LOVE people who get things done even more. Entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and activists who build solutions for a need they’ve found, along with authors, architects, and artists who have the audacity to believe in their work in a sometimes judgy world.