Early life and Education
After completing her basic education, Danielle Butin enrolled at New York University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy in 1985. Butin went on to achieve a Master’s degree in public health, geriatrics and gerontology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
From there she began working in the medical industry at Oxford Health Plans where she served as an occupational therapist for several years and was eventually promoted to the role of manager of health promotion and wellness of the Medicare division of the company where she worked for more than nine years. Butin then joined United Health Group as the director of health services. There she was responsible for leading services that take care of around 300,000 Medicare members throughout the region.
Road to Success
In her role as director of health services at United Health Group, Danielle Butin built her department from the ground up and helped create an award-winning and innovative health service offering geared for older adults across the United States. After leaving the corporate world in favour of working full-time in philanthropy, Butin was as successful and achieved several awards for her efforts over the years, including:
During a trip to Tanzania, Danielle Butin discovered the appalling conditions and severely limited medical resources of the country’s healthcare clinics. She encountered a woman who was crying in a tent and asked her why she was upset. The woman was a doctor from the United Kingdom who was there to do volunteer work and she was crying because of the desperate lack of supplies and equipment which resulted in thousands upon thousands of deaths. Butin felt compelled to take action to affect positive change and decided to start a not for profit with a focus on healthcare in Africa.
Launching Afaya Foundation
After returning to the United States from her trip, Butin launched the Afaya Foundation. Afaya means ‘health’ in Swahili, the official language of Tanzania where Butin was inspired to launch the foundation. Headquartered in New York, United States, Afaya Foundation works as a medical supply recovery entity. Surplus medical supplies and equipment are donated to Afaya and then shipped to more than 56 countries where it’s needed. Since the foundation was founded in 2007, millions of kilograms of supplies have been rescued from landfills or waste incineration plants and put to good use in disadvantaged African countries instead. Butin is responsible for the strategic vision, network and program development of the foundation as well as its scaling and establishing partners.