“What I really appreciate is that Prevention Institute has created all of these tools that communities can use to assess their local situation and then bring the right people together to do something about it.”
Andrea Buffa is the communications director at Prevention Institute, drawing on over two decades of leadership experience in communications and policy advocacy across a broad spectrum of issues that include housing, climate change, human rights, and healthcare. She has worked with individuals and organizations to catalyze large-scale changes, with a focus on influencing policymakers and educating the public.
At PI, Andrea develops and implements communications strategies to educate policymakers and other decisionmakers about the value of community-level efforts to prevent illness and injury. She has increased the organization’s visibility through placements in local and national media outlets, including The Hill, USA Today, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Health Affairs, and others. Andrea has also expanded the reach of the organization to new audiences through multimedia content like animated videos, social media videos, and podcasts.
Andrea recognized the importance of prevention early on in her career. In one of her first jobs, as a case manager working with a homeless shelter in San Francisco, she realized that providing assistance and support to homeless people wasn’t an adequate response to the problem of homelessness. “Housing in the city was extremely expensive, so I knew that even if I was able to help one person get affordable housing, the next person was just going to walk through the door. We weren’t actually doing anything to stop the problem of homelessness.” This inspired her to collaborate with housing advocates to influence local policies and win additional resources for affordable, supportive housing units.
From 1995 to 2001, Andrea served as the executive director of Media Alliance, San Francisco’s longest-lived media advocacy organization. During her tenure, she co-created a media training program for homeless people called Raising Our Voices and supported communications policies like net neutrality. In 2002, she joined the human-rights organization Global Exchange as its peace campaign coordinator, helping to found and co-chair a national peace coalition, United for Peace and Justice. She later worked as Global Exchange’s communications director and then as its campaigns director on issues including fair trade and the green economy.
“I’ve always been a person who doesn’t just accept a negative situation as being inevitable, I want to do something about it. People deserve to have good lives and to be able to support their families.”
In 2007, Andrea took a position as the communications and policy specialist at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (CLRE). There she publicized CLRE reports on topics like healthcare reform and job quality, and trained labor activists on how to get media coverage of their issues and perspectives.
Before joining Prevention Institute, Andrea spent eight years working at the Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership, serving first as a communications manager and then as communications director. Her duties included managing a team of 13 staff members responsible for communicating with Kaiser Permanente’s nearly 200,000 frontline employees, managers, and physicians through a print magazine, website, videos, and other communications platforms. She also led the development of innovative approaches to organizational communication, including an interactive online tool for employees to share their stories.
Andrea holds a master’s degree in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in History from Yale University. In 2013, she completed Kaiser Permanente’s Improvement Institute and was certified as an improvement advisor. Her writing has been published in a wide range of media outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Grist, California Progress Report, San Francisco Bayview, and Race, Poverty and the Environment, among others.