ELITE 2022 Disrupter Afshan Rizvi Hussain of Fishawack Health

Afshan Rizvi Hussain

General Manager, Rare Disease

Fishawack Health

Serving the Underserved

Some people find their life’s purpose in unlikely places or unusual circumstances. Afshan Rizvi Hussain discovered her purpose years after walking an unlikely path to fulfill her mother’s last wish. Ten years after her mother passed away, Afshan is still driven by a promise she made to her: “serve the underserved.” At Fishawack Health, she is living up to that promise by disrupting how rare disease communities should be viewed and serving as a mentor to minority youth and women of color.

This past year, she initiated a Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) at Fishawack Health, a group of colleagues who embrace their differences and use them to fuel insights into how to effectively reach and represent certain patient communities. One of Fishawack Health’s biopharmaceutical clients expressed a need to expand a rare disease awareness campaign to reflect patients of all ethnicities—especially the East Asian population. The DAC provided critical insights that guided the creative team to revisit the campaign and make changes to ensure it was more inclusive of all types of patients, better represented the cross-cultural considerations, and was supported by a strategy to increase diagnoses across ethnicities globally.

Afshan also led initiatives that foster an inclusive culture at the agency, such as driving the creation of a global D&I committee; establishing a minority youth mentorship program in local communities; working as a speaker and ambassador for minority groups across high schools and colleges; and serving as a reverse mentor and peer mentor at Fishawack Health and in CHIEF, a society created to enable more women to hold executive-level positions. When talking with young professionals, she advocates for women to find their purpose and superpowers by mapping their career journeys early.

Outside of work, Afshan focuses on charitable giving, just as her mother did. She dedicates her spare time to volunteering for nonprofits, such as the 4A’s and Nerdy Girl Success, an organization that helps young women of diverse backgrounds learn how to influence business, politics, the arts, and ultimately society. She also started The Rabab Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping minority groups improve outcomes when it comes to their healthcare.

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