Get to know a donor: Sam Sanders

If you don’t already know (in which case, remind me to harass you over email or something soon), a big part of Bike & Build is fundraising. Each rider raises at least $4,500 by asking friends, family, and their dentists (they literally tell you to do that in the manual) to help chip in. Groups then allocate the money to affordable housing organizations across the country, who apply to Bike & Build’s competitive grants. 

I’ve been really blown away by the people I know’s generosity in giving to this meaningful cause, and I wanted to show off some of the awesome people who have been so gracious in helping out. On this blog, I’ll be showcasing donors through this Get to Know A Donor series.

First up, we have the indomitable Sam Sanders. Sam was once described to me as, “who we all would be capable of being if we all stopped reading random internet stuff and wasting all our time and lived completely up to our potential, maybe” i.e. she is unreasonably accomplished. I met Sam in college, where she was famous for her cheerfulness, larger-than-lifeness, extreme love of life and everyone in it (she told me she loved me within the first ten minutes of meeting me freshman year, in the Ratty), and being the smartest, most capable person alive. At school, Sam majored in History, was nationally ranked in debate, turned down a promised spot at Brown Med School for the chance to take Orgo 2 and the MCATs, and also somehow had a social life. I know I am missing things, because Sam knows everyone so she must have met them doing some club or something I’m not even aware of. I once saw her sleep sitting down, with her legs crossed.

After graduating, Sam cut down her already sparse sleep schedule to work for two years at McKinsey, spending her weekends volunteering at Planned Parenthood. She’s now at Harvard Medical School because of course she is. I have personally benefited from Sam because she gave me my amazing roommate (and her best friend since childhood), Alexandra, so now I both owe her and know all her embarrassing stories from the age 4 onwards.

But rather than sharing any of those, here is Sam, in her own words, kicking off our getting to know donors with an amazing person and great friend.


Besides affordable housing, a cause I care deeply about is: More transparency for Americans regarding healthcare options. I think it’s so hard to navigate the current system, especially for Americans not covered by their employers, and frankly it’s made access to healthcare for low-income Americans challenging (even under the Affordable Care Act).


Sam (left) with her twin sister, Beryl

What’s your current sleep schedule like? Crazy. My closest friends know this, but I generally go to bed around 9p on weekdays and wake up at 4a. On weekends, it’s more like midnight to 8a.

Why did you decide to go to Harvard Business School when you’re already a high-ranking executive in Mandy & Associates? How do you hope completing this degree will affect your career within the company?  Wonderful question.  To be clear, I haven’t actually gotten into HBS — I’m hoping to get in, but I apply in the fall for the MD/MBA program.  Fingers crossed!  In terms of how I think it will help my career at Mandy & Associates — I think that the HBS degree goes a long way.  I’m hoping for better career advancement opportunities at M&A after I get my MBA…but we’ll see whether Mandy feels the same way… [Ed. note: Sam is already a student at Harvard Medical School, and is hoping to enroll in Harvard Business School as well because medical school is very easy if you don’t combine it with something else. Mandy & Associates is the company her dog, Zoey “Mandy” Sanders runs. M&A employees many people both in and out of the Sanders family. Mandy is an alumnus of Harvard as well.]


“You have to put that one. What is that, a chalkboard with science?” – Joe

What was your favorite debate case?  Is it sad that I don’t remember like any debate cases I used? I just remember having a ton of fun my sophomore year debating with Joe.  I remember we used to run this Greek mythology case that was ridiculously one-sided…poor decision on our part…

What’s your go-to meal when you need to feed yourself or others?  Easy. Lean Cuisine.  Who doesn’t love a delicious frozen meal?

If you could make something required reading for everyone on the planet, what would it be?  I think Don Berwick’s Escape Fire speech is probably one of the most powerful pieces I’ve ever read about the US healthcare system.  It was published by the Commonwealth Fund, if anyone’s interested.  A short and quick read.

Can you teach us how to do something you know how to do, please?
 I used to be a competitive racewalker, but that would probably require us to be in person…

What’s the neatest thing you’ve learned recently? I recently finished learning how to perform a basic physical exam on a patient!  That was pretty cool!


Sam with her parents at her white coat ceremony in medical school!

Question of your choice; answer of your choice as long as it’s truthful. Or convincing, I guess. Can’t think of anything good!  Would you be interested if I told you that my favorite color is purple? [Ed. note: yes.]

Question Jenna should ask the next person: What is your “spirit food,” and how do you think it reflects your personality?


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