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Nancy Lublin (born June 30, 1971) is the former CEO of Crisis Text Line and was the creator of Dress for Success. She was also the CEO of Do Something Inc., a company that mobilizes youth to participate in social change, from 2003 to 2015. Nancy Lublin Former Chief Executive Officer, Crisis Text Line At age 23, Nancy Lublin turned a $5,000 inheritance into Dress for Success, a global entity that provides interview suits and career development training to women in need. Today, Dress for Success helps women reclaim their destinies in almost 150 cities in 22 countries. Nancy Lublin, cofounder and former CEO of Crisis Text Line, uses technology and data to save lives. With suicide claiming nearly 50,000 lives in the U.S. Alone every year — more than twice the toll of homicide — Crisis Text Line saw the need to create rapid.
Nancy Lublin is an innovator, advisor, investor, and entrepreneur. She founded three companies and turned around a fourth, while writing a best-selling book and editing two others. She has raised over $250 Million in funding for non-profit and tech startups which have employed over 1500 people, engaged tens of thousands of volunteers, and impacted over 5 million lives. She currently advises startups and invests in new technologies.
Dress for Success
Ms. Lublin founded her first non-profit in 1996 as a student at New York University School of Law, using $5,000 unexpectedly inherited from her immigrant great-grandfather. To honor his memory and strong work ethic, Ms. Lublin launched Dress for Success with the vision of providing professional attire for low-income women seeking employment. As CEO, she started it as a boutique in a church basement and created and implemented an international expansion strategy and brand that has anchored Dress for Success in 145 cities in more than twenty countries. Beyond attire, Dress for Success offers career counseling, job retention counseling, and mentorship to women in need, suiting up more than one million women for the workforce since its inception twenty-five years ago.
Ms. Lublin recruited successful Dress for Success partnerships with major international companies including Avon, Coach, Citigroup, Arthur Andersen, Sears, Nine West and others, and developed a for-profit subsidiary clothing line and lucrative license with Home Shopping Network. Ms. Lublin left Dress for Success in 2002 after nominating Joi Gordon as her successor at CEO. Still at the helm, Ms. Gordon has led the organization to resoundingly successful growth.
In 2003, Ms. Lublin took the reigns as CEO of DoSomething, Inc. at the request of its cofounder, Melrose Place actor Andrew Shue. The company was distressed; it had $250,000 in debt and had just closed its office space and laid off all but one of its employees. Ms. Lublin turned the organization around and moved it online, transforming it into DoSomething.org. The not-for-profit tech company provides volunteer opportunities for young people to improve their communities and earn scholarship money for college, leveraging technology like social media and texting to reach its audience.
Today, DoSomething.org is one of the largest youth organizations in the world with more than 6 million members. As of 2019, it has been rated 4/4 stars by Charity Navigator for the past thirteen years—representing the fewer than 1 percent of charities that have held the title for that long. DoSomething.org was also on The NonProfit Times’ Best Places to Work list for seven years in a row, and for six consecutive years was on Crain’s Top 100 Places to Work.
While CEO of DoSomething.org, Ms. Lublin recruited and managed a team of diverse, young volunteers and employees, creating policies and systems to foster and retain millennial and tech talent, including a student loan and a sabbatical policy. She created a cause-marketing strategy for sustainability, acquiring 83 percent of funding from corporations. Notable DoSomething.org campaigns launched under Ms. Lublin’s leadership included Teens for Jeans, providing over 5 million pairs of jeans to homeless youth throughout the country; Diversify My Emoji, a successful petition to diversify iPhone emojis to represent people of color; GTFO: Get the Filter Out, cleaning up 3.7 million discarded cigarette butts and counting; and Grandparents Gone Wired, aimed at teaching senior citizens how to use smartphones.
In 2007, the DoSomething.org Awards became the first ever televised award show celebrating volunteerism, airing for five years on the CW and then VH1.
Crisis Text Line
In 2013, while still CEO of DoSomething.org, Ms. Lublin conceived of and launched Crisis Text Line, a tech start-up that offers free 24/7 crisis intervention over text. She first publicly shared the idea for Crisis Text Line as a TED Talk. In less than seven years, CTL became the largest hotline in the U.S., with a staff of approximately one hundred employees and 30,000 trained volunteer crisis counselors who have handled over 150 million messages so far, including intervening in thousands of suicide attempts. Both Crisis Text Line and DoSomething.org were featured at the 2013 Obama White House Mental Health Conference. Most importantly, the service has garnered an 85% approval rating from users.
In addition to serving millions of people in pain, Crisis Text Line is heralded as a pioneer in big data for social good, using algorithms to stack-rank the texter queue based on severity. The insights from Crisis Text Line data have influenced research and the policies of government agencies and other companies that provide crisis intervention.
Ms. Lublin helped launch CTL in Canada, the UK, and Ireland. Ms. Lublin envisioned CTL as an international crisis text line serving one-third of the planet and competed for and won a 2020 TED Audacious Project grant to fulfill that vision. During her tenure, Ms. Lublin raised roughly $140 million in venture-style rounds from some of the world’s leading tech innovators to facilitate Crisis Text Line’s international expansion into countries speaking Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Arabic by 2022. She was committed to giving young employees leadership opportunities that other companies may otherwise reserve for veteran staff.
Ms. Lublin was terminated from CTL in June 2020, amidst allegations of a hostile workplace and inappropriate conduct by the C-suite of Crisis Text Line. She later reached a settlement agreement with the organization.
Ms. Lublin founded Loris.ai in 2018, giving founder equity to Crisis Text Line. Loris.ai’s artificial intelligence platform is designed to help customer service employees handle hard conversations. Leveraging the aggregated and anonymized lessons of Crisis Text Line, Loris.ai brings AI-based conversational empathy, efficiency, and compassion to customer service.
Loris.ai raised a total of $7 million in venture funding, and Ms. Lublin hired the company’s founding team, including executive, product, and data teams. She served as CEO until September 2019, recruiting Etie Hertz to replace her.
Investing and Advising
Ms. Lublin has made several successful early investments such as Gixo (acquired by BeachBody), VirginMega (acquired by Nike), and Represent (acquired by CustomInk). She has served as advisor for ClassPass and CitrusLane, and fund Advisor for firms LeadOut and CityLight Capital.
Ms. Lublin has served on the board of American Friends of Oxford University since 2018. Other prior board positions have included McGraw-Hill Education (Audit & Risk Committee, 2015-2020, $2 billion revenue), Wet Seal (2013-2015, 500 retail stores), and The New School (Audit & Risk Committee, 2010-2016).
Ms. Lublin wrote a popular monthly column for Fast Company from 2009-2011 that focused on cause marketing, governance and fundraising. Her Amazon best-selling book Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business(2010) focuses on smart strategies about brand, talent, and productivity that for-profit business can learn from not-for-profits. That same year, she co-authored Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists(2010) with Vanessa Martir and Julia Steers, which was nominated for several children’s book awards. In 2014, Ms. Lublin was invited to write another guide for young people looking to create social change. Ms. Lublin enlisted the help of her team from DoSomething.org to each write a chapter, which she edited with Alyssa Ruderman to create The XYZ Factor: The DoSomething.org Guide to Creating a Culture of Impact. Each section focuses on a different aspect of the “XYZ” mindset for success.
Ms. Lublin taught graduate-level courses as an adjunct faculty member at both Yale University School of Management (2011, 2009), and the New York University Wagner School (2010, 2009, 2007).
Public Speaking, Interviews, and TV appearances
Ms. Lublin and her organizations have been featured on CNN, Oprah, and 60 Minutes(1999). She and her work can also be seen in features by NowThis (2020), The New Yorker (2020), New York Times Video, Mashable (2018), Dose (2017), CGTN America (2016), WebMD (2016), CBS This Morning (2015), Katie (2014), CBS News (2009) and many other media platforms.
In 2013, DoSomething.org was chosen by The Wall Street Journal as one of twenty-four startups to participate in “WSJ Startup of the Year,” an episodic video documentary for the newspaper’s video platform. As part of the event, Ms. Lublin was a panelist on a live chat during WSJ Startup of the Year’s Power Women Week.
Nancy Lublin Crisis Text Line Ted Talk
As a public speaker, Ms. Lublin has made hundreds of appearances, including talks at Google (2020 and 2019), the Milken Institute (2020), the Aspen Ideas Festival (2019), Urban Institute (2018) and the World Economic Forum (2017).
Ms. Lublin has also participated on podcasts. In March 2020, she was a guest on the LinkedIn Hello Monday Podcast with Jessi Hempel discussing the state of mental health in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017 she was a guest on the podcast Masters of Scalewith LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. Other podcast appearances include WP-Tonic.com (2020), American Diagnosis with Dr. Celine Gounder(2017), Sounds Good (2017), This Week in Startups(2016), and the Vice Podcast (2013).
Awards and Honors
Ms. Lublin was awarded the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship by the Skoll Foundation in 2019. She received an honorary doctorate from The New School in 2018. In 2014, she was named a Schwab Fellow by the World Economic Forum and was previously named to the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders list in 2007. In 2013, Ms. Lublin was awarded the Henry Crown Fellowship by the Aspen Institute. She has also received Fast Company‘s Fast 50 Award (2002), Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award, Forbes’ Trailblazer Award (2000), and was named Woman of the Year by the NYC Women’s Commission (2000).
DoSomething.org won Webby Awards for Best Youth Website (2015) and Best Charitable Organization/NonProfit (2013).
Ms. Lublin has been named on many lists of influential entrepreneurs, including: Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders (2014), Fast Company’s Most Creative People (2014), Marie Claire’s 20 Women Changing the World (2014), Fast Company’s list of Extraordinary Women (2012), The NonProfit Times’ 50 Most Powerful (2011-2014), Glamour magazine’s Women of Worth (2006), Ms. Magazine’s Feminists for the 21st Century, and others.
Education and Personal Life
Ms. Lublin earned an Executive Certificate in Leadership from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 2008. She holds her J.D. from New York University School of Law (2001, Root-Tilden Scholar), her M.Litt. in Political Theory from Oxford University (1995, Marshall Scholar), and her B.A. in Politics from Brown University (1993, Phi Beta Kappa). Ms. Lublin is also proficient in Spanish and Japanese.
Ms. Lublin is a native of West Hartford, Connecticut. She is married to entrepreneur Jason Diaz. They have two children and live in Manhattan.
Nancy LublinKnight Foundation [Creative Commons]Have you ever needed support without knowing where to turn? Have you struggled with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, and been too afraid to talk about it with those who know you? When Nancy Lublin ran the nonprofit DoSomething.org, which helps mobilize youth to create social change, sometimes youth texted in not about how to volunteer, but about needing help themselves. This was a wakeup call for Lublin. Students can be heroes, but students--and anyone--also need heroes. The world can be a scary place, and depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are common among teens. In fact, for this age group, suicide in the second leading cause of death. Lublin saw that students felt safe sharing personal struggles through text, and she decided that same format was the perfect way to provide emotional support.
Now, across the United States, Canada, and the U.K., trained volunteers answer anonymous text messages sent to the Crisis Text Line. Since 2013, the text line and its visitors have exchanged 118,072,954 messages, with that number increasing by the minute. Users text in about a variety of issues, including anxiety, suicide, depression, emotional abuse, bullying, self harm, and loneliness.
The Crisis Text Line uses the data it tracks to continue to streamline its service. For instance, the algorithm sorts the urgency of incoming texts by the keywords those texts include. Keywords that indicate suicide move the texter to the front of the line. While many companies use data to help their profits, or to sell that data to others, Lublin publishes the text line’s data on its website. She isn’t interested in making a profit; she’s interested in helping as many people as possible free of charge. She wants schools, communities, and other groups to utilize this information for their own use, so everyone can work together to combat mental health issues and suicide.
The Crisis Text Line is also active in Canada (called Kids Help Phone) and the U.K. (called Shout). It is taking steps to expand to Ireland, Australia, Latin America, and South Africa. With its fast-growing success, it is sure to move to these areas and beyond.
Crisis Text Line Nancy Lublin Today
Nancy LublinJoi Ito - Flickr [Public domain]I asked Nancy a few questions about heroes and how to support a loved one:
Who are your heroes, and why?
I have always admired Nelson Mandela for his resilience and ability to forgive. His focus on pragmatism? Something I aspire to emulate. I'm also super inspired by Greta Thunberg. Her honesty, clarity of message, and passion--wow.
What is your definition of a hero? Do you see yourself as a hero?
Crisis Text Line Nancy Lublin Youtube
I'm not a hero. I'm just a girl who doesn't have much patience. When I see a problem, I lean in.
Why do you think it’s important for young people to have heroes, and why is it important to support this demographic?
Crisis Text Line Nancy Lublin Free
Role models make it easier for us to imagine. Its very helpful to have someone else blaze the trail first. We can see ourselves pursuing the same work. They make the impossible seem possible.
How can a young person best support a friend who is going through a crisis? What are the best and worst things to say?
Nancy Lublin Firing
Our data shows that it is not harmful or suggestive to ask someone if they are thinking about death or dying. In fact, it makes people feel seen and cared for. So if you have a friend you think might be going through something, don't just say, 'Hey, I'm here if you need me.' That puts the burden on them. Instead say, 'Hey, I care about you. Are you thinking dark thoughts?' And if so, encourage them to reach out to Crisis Text Line, a parent, a teacher, a doctor, or another person in their life who can help.
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Thank you, Nancy, for embodying and uplifting ordinary heroes doing extraordinary things!