Visionaries Series: DoSomething.org

CEO Nancy Lublin believes social responsibility should start early, so she's busy mobilizing the next generation.

We think the world is great and all, but, let's be honest, it could also use some serious changing. We admire the innovators who blend business with philanthropy, and, in so doing, change the game for their industries as well as millions of people in need around the world. In this series, inspired by the great work of our friends at Warby Parker, we attempt to see the world through the eyes of some of those leaders. Should their stories not be incentive enough to do your own part this season, let it be noted: Studies have shown that giving back can boost your immunity, lower your risk of heart attack and release endorphins. Not too shabby. Click here to be inspired by more of our favorite Visionaries.

How DoSomething.org betters the world:

DoSomething.org is the largest organization in America for teens and social change. We run big national cause campaigns — urging kids to take a specific action on an issue.

How she was driven to start an organization that enacts change:
I was a social entrepreneur. In 1996, when I was 23 years old, I founded Dress for Success and I ran that for 7 years. It’s now in 140 cities around the world. So, I know that young people can build good sustainable projects. I came to DoSomething.org to help build a movement of those kids.
 
One story of someone impacted by DoSomething.org:
I really love our Teens for Jeans campaign. Nobody seems to know that 1/3 of all homeless in America are under the age of 18! It's a huge problem. And the first thing kids ask for when they get to shelters? Jeans. So we run a campaign where kids collect gently used jeans, drop them off at Aeropostale stores, and we redistribute them to 500 shelters nationwide. Last year, in just three weeks, we collected over 1 million pairs of jeans. Over 250,000 kids participated in the campaign. It was awesome. 

The most significant thing she's learned through the course of her work:
I've learned that Whitney Houston was wrong...not just about drugs and her marriage...but about "the children are our future." Kids are awesome NOW.  Unlike adults, they don't see any boundaries or historical limitations. Young people are far more creative and dream big.
 
How her life has been changed by her work:
I'm not sure my life has been "changed" because this kind of work is all I have ever done! I'm a lifetime social entrepreneur! But I can certainly say that I wake up before my alarm clock every day because I am psyched to get busy.
 
A typical day in her life:
Wake up. Wake my kids up. (Sydney is seven and Houston is five.) Avoid downstairs bathroom (because my husband will be in there stinking it up). The four of us walk up The Highline to drop the kids off at school. It’s a really amazing daily ritual. Get to the office at 8:15. Respond to about 60 emails before 9am. Meetings all day with internal team members about user flows or campaign concepts (we're struggling right now trying to figure out a smart response to sex trafficking). Meetings with media partners or corporate sponsors. Walk (or taxi) home around 6:30. Read books with the kids and put them to sleep (on Star Wars sheets) by eight. Crash on the couch while I tweet/Fbook/email/text while the tv is on in the background. Sleep around midnight.

Her vision for the world:
I kinda like world peace.
 
The professional accomplishment of which she's proudest:
I think I am most proud that Dress for Success continues without me. Most social entrepreneurs leave their organizations on a stretcher or in a pine box. These orgs are cults of personality. I wanted to create an institution, not a following.
 
What she wishes more people knew about implementing change:
I wish people didn't think of change as something that requires money. They imagine doing good stuff "after they make it." Why wait?! 

The individuals or other organizations she finds inspiring:
Its a total cliche but I am a huge Nelson Mandela fan. The man spent 27 years in prison and then forgave his captors — and without a strong religious motivation. He simply thought it was the right thing to do for his country. 

Her message to the world with one request (in 140 characters or less):
Be nice to each other....and always wash your hands.