Leadership

A Commitment to Community Earns Afaxys CEO Charleston Business Award

Jul 14, 2021

In 2008, when Ronda Dean launched Afaxys, now a leading provider of contraceptives to U.S. community and public health centers, she confronted a fair dose of skepticism.

It’s impossible to start a profitable company, her critics claimed, that served economically challenged patients and health centers with razor-thin budgets. Thirteen years later, as Afaxys has demonstrated that providing affordable access to sexual and reproductive healthcare can be a sustainable business, Dean continues to prove people wrong.

For her entrepreneurial leap and dedication to community and public health providers and their patients, Dean was named one of 29 Women in Business winners by Charleston Business Magazine. These local leaders represent the top in their fields across South Carolina.

The success of Afaxys stems from the same commitment that Dean and Afaxys cofounder Susan Overly had when they started the company: that every woman should have access to a full range of contraceptive options regardless of where they are in life.

That’s because when more people have the ability to manage their family planning journey, they will have more opportunities to choose their destiny, whether it be by chasing their career dreams, furthering their education, traveling, or anything else they desire.

“I’m humbled that my company has been able to make a difference for countless patients by making access to affordable contraception possible for all patients, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic capability,” Dean said.

Mission-driven to provide affordable access to healthcare

These family planning journeys are only possible when health centers can afford to have all options available to all their patients. Dean made sure Afaxys put the issue of affordable access at the center of its mission.

Afaxys has a unique business model. One, the company provides health centers with the broad contraceptive product portfolio they need with a reliable supply and a price that doesn’t fluctuate from quarter to quarter. In fact, Afaxys has rarely raised their prices on contraceptive products in 13 years. Two, through its group purchasing organization, Afaxys helps health centers secure other needed products and services to run their operations at the best prices possible.

Today, Afaxys has grown to serve more than 10,000 health center locations across the U.S. More than 27 million contraceptives have been purchased by providers for patients who might otherwise have been unable to access care.

Redefining what it means to serve the community

Very few pharmaceutical companies expend their resources on underserved communities. But for Afaxys and Dean, the focus on community and public health never wavers. “Commitment to public health” is a central theme in every meeting Dean holds for her employees.

Setting this example not only inspires Afaxys teams to fulfill the company’s mission—it also draws new team members from across the country.

Staci Gouveia, Director of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, joined Afaxys in January 2021. For years, she worked for large pharmaceutical companies but decided to uproot her family, move to historic Charleston, and join a devoted group of people that were hyper-focused on doing the right thing – creating affordable access at a time when it’s never been needed more.

“I decided to refocus my career aspirations because Ronda Dean and the Afaxys leadership team made me feel like I could put my experience and expertise to work in an area that was making a real difference for providers and patients,” Gouveia said.

Dean’s commitment to community extends to organizations outside Afaxys. She has served on several boards, including Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the Storm Eye Institute at Medical University of South Carolina, Wings for Kids, and currently serves as Director for the Coastal Community Foundation and the New Morning Foundation.

To learn more about Dean’s leadership style and her own inspirations, read the July edition of Charleston Business Magazine. Dean will be honored with the other Women in Business winners on August 26, 2021, at the Westfield in Downtown Greenville, South Carolina.