How This 25 Year Old Is Making a Difference in Health Care

By the time she graduated from college, Grace Garey, now 25, had worked in a Liberian refugee camp and helped coordinate emergency response for war-torn countries at a humanitarian organization in Washington, D.C. While she loved solving problems in international development, she felt frustrated by the bureaucracy.

"I came away from those experiences thinking, 'There must be a more creative way to make health care accessible to every person on the planet,'" she says. So Garey cofounded Watsi, a global crowdfunded platform that connects donors directly with individual patients in the developing world. The nonprofit, which recently celebrated its third anniversary, has already raised $5 million for more than 5,000 patients in 20 countries. "You can scroll through stories on the site," she explains, "And read about a single mother in Kenya who overcame cancer because 30 strangers funded her treatment." Watsi is also radically transparent, publicly updating all its finances in real time. Says Garey, "I think this is the future of health care."

Garey on how to be bold and stay inspired — at work and in life:

100 Percentage of Watsi donations that directly fund health care

"I'd never know there was a better way to do charity if I hadn't tried. that motivates me."

"When I was still an intern, a manager I admired told me that I was great at assigned tasks but never formally proposed the ideas I chatted about casually. I hadn’t realized I could do that! At my next gig, I pitched a new program that is now raising millions of dollars a year."

"The best advice I've heard: Progress is the audacity to think big and the discipline to start small."

"We ask for feedback from our doctors and administrators ridiculously often. That way, even if we have microfailures, we're always broadly moving in the right direction."

"I take dance classes: It's fun to set goals for an activity that isn't work-related."

"When I'm learning something new, like finance or data crunching, I identify an end goal and tell myself it’s more important than the temporary pain of a steep learning curve."

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Photo Credit: Grace Garey Twitter