Seeking Solutions Globally
by Blakeley Lowry ’99
Seeking Solutions Globally Blakeley Lowry ’99
Illustration: David Sparshott

It was March 1999, and there I was bumping along a dusty road in the back of a pickup truck. I was on my way to Nueva Vida to help construct basic shelters for Nicaraguans left homeless by Hurricane Mitch, which had devastated the country months earlier. I had limited exposure to and understanding of what natural disasters do to a gravely impoverished country, but my participation in the first Bucknell Brigade transformed my understanding.

Twenty years later, I still point to that inaugural Brigade trip to Nicaragua as one of the most formative experiences of my young life. There was laughter, and friendships were born. There was radical listening and community- building. There was outrage. And there was action. These are some of the key components I now draw upon as a global public- health consultant working with communities to create bottom-up solutions in places where the health-care system has been inadequate.

I also look back fondly on my time in Bucknell Student Government and leadership positions in my sorority, Pi Beta Phi. As a psychology major, my professors challenged me to think critically about our country’s mental-health-care system and how to foster better solutions. My experiences at Bucknell helped me discover my own insatiable curiosity about people’s lives and how to work together to make them better.

I’ve spent my career working to improve the health outcomes of women, children and other marginalized populations: From my early days in New York City advocating for social justice at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division to addressing the social determinants of health at community-based organizations such as Gay Men’s Health Crisis, to where I am today. As the founder of Changing Winds Consulting, I’m working to bring community-driven, low-cost, high-impact innovations I’ve encountered in countries such as Uganda and Rwanda to the United States. My aim is to address our own health-care-system delivery failures, particularly for rural and urban populations lacking access to care.

Confirming how special that first Bucknell Brigade was and what it sparked in me and other students, I returned to Nicaragua in 2009 for the 10-year anniversary alumni trip to witness the impact of the Brigade over the years. I’ve continued to support the Brigade’s partner agency, Jubilee House Community, through monthly donations. As my career has taken me to far-off places such as Japan and Uganda, I carry with me that foundation and commitment to public service, locally and globally, which was cemented at Bucknell.