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Female Disruptors: Tonya Winders has shaken up how we care for people with allergies

I will continue to lead the global discussion around the importance of respiratory disease and ensure that the patient’s voice is heard, whether it’s in the doctor’s office or in the halls of Congress. I will work tirelessly to ensure the right treatment is provided for the right patient at the right time, based on […]


I will continue to lead the global discussion around the importance of respiratory disease and ensure that the patient’s voice is heard, whether it’s in the doctor’s office or in the halls of Congress. I will work tirelessly to ensure the right treatment is provided for the right patient at the right time, based on each individual’s preferences and cultural values; this concept of Shared Decision Making in healthcare benefits doctors and patients alike by improving adherence to treatment plans and building trust.


I had the pleasure to interview Tonya Winders, MBA. Tonya is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Allergy & Asthma Network, the leading patient advocacy organization dedicated to ending the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. Tonya has over 16 years’ experience in leadership roles within the allergy and asthma industry. From sales and marketing leadership to managed markets access, she has worked tirelessly to ensure patients have access to effective diagnostic and treatment tools. Tonya has worked closely with the leadership of the ACAAI & AAAAI to address challenges currently facing the integrity of allergy and asthma care throughout the US while spreading awareness and preparedness messages to patients and caregivers. Personally, Tonya is the mother of five children, four of whom have asthma and/or allergies, ranging in age from 9–15 years old. She enjoys spending time with her husband of 18 years Brian Winders and coaching cheerleading.


Thank you so much for joining us Tonya. What is your “backstory”?

I’ve spent the past 20 years in the allergy and asthma industry — 15 years in pharmaceutical and medical device leadership roles and 5 years leading Allergy & Asthma Network. I am also the mom of five teenagers, four of whom have allergies and asthma.

Why did you found your company?

Allergy & Asthma Network was founded in 1985 by Nancy Sander, the mother of a child with severe asthma and allergies. She and the board of directors selected me as her successor in 2013 when she retired.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Allergy & Asthma Network is leveraging technology to raise awareness and educate and empower patients living with chronic diseases such as allergy, asthma and atopic dermatitis. We’re ensuring the voice of the patient is reflected in public policy — too often it’s not taken into account, especially among certain at-risk and low-income populations — and we have also exposed fraud and abuse in healthcare. We are also providing and promoting innovative care delivery methods via telemedicine to support families who want healthcare on their terms versus the traditional model.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors?

I am fortunate to have had many mentors in my life: Jesus Christ, my parents, former coworkers — especially Dick Whitman and David Esposito — and many others I have never met but read incessantly, such as John Maxwell and Simon Sinek.

How are you going to shake things up next?

I will continue to lead the global discussion around the importance of respiratory disease and ensure that the patient’s voice is heard, whether it’s in the doctor’s office or in the halls of Congress. I will work tirelessly to ensure the right treatment is provided for the right patient at the right time, based on each individual’s preferences and cultural values; this concept of Shared Decision Making in healthcare benefits doctors and patients alike by improving adherence to treatment plans and building trust.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

NEVER. GIVE. UP.

Four years ago, Allergy & Asthma Network and I were sued for restriction of trade and collusion for exposing fraud in allergy testing and immunotherapy in the United States. Over a dozen co-defendants settled and agreed to permanent injunctions restricting their ability to speak out. I refused to do so because I knew I was innocent and God would protect me. Countless hours and millions of dollars in legal fees later, a federal jury found in my favor.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

The Bible continues to be my guide. It models a level of servant leadership throughout that inspires and challenges me every day. I also love the SHINE podcast by motivational speaker Lisa Nichols. Her words encouraged me in one of the darkest times of my professional life to never give up and to stand for what is right, even when standing alone.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast with Oprah Winfrey. She is a woman who has defied all odds and used her voice as a platform to help millions of people. She, too, has a strong faith and has been willing to stand up for those in need. I would like to ask her how she maintained a healthy work/life balance during the height of her career.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Allergy & Asthma Network is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the handle @AllergyAsthmaHQ. My personal Twitter page is @Tonya_Winders.

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