Danielle Butin


NYU Alumni Changemaker of the Year
STEINHARDT ’85

Founder and CEO of the Afya Foundation

Danielle Butin was at a professional crossroads when she traveled to Africa, a place that had long tugged at her imagination. That’s where she encountered the problem that changed her life: well-trained medical workers forced to watch patients suffer because of a lack of basic medical supplies. “It was heartbreaking,” she says. “I knew I had to do something.”

Butin’s solution was Afya Foundation, a nonprofit that collects medical supplies slated for destruction in US hospitals and delivers them to people in need around the world. Butin started the foundation with nothing but her determination. (At first, she kept scavenged supplies in a semi-trailer truck parked outside her home.) But with the help of an army of volunteers, she developed an infrastructure capable of responding to supply-crises nimbly and without delay.

Since its inception, the foundation has delivered more than $34 million worth of humanitarian aid to underserved communities in 75 nations. And Butin’s model has a second set of winners. By making volunteerism a critical part of the Afya Foundation, she has activated a wave of altruism right here at home. “If there is a need to act,” she says proudly of her team, “we act.”