Chamber Insider Blog

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Dr. Tonya Adkins, HealthWorks for Northern Virginia

Thank you to Dr. Tonya Adkins, Chief Executive Officer at HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, for being a Women’s History Month Spotlight.

Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?

I was born in Trenton, NJ, where I was raised by my parents along with my two younger sisters. I attended college in Texas at a small Historically Black College, Prairie View A&M University, and then I moved to Nashville to attend Meharry Medical College to pursue my Doctor of Medicine Degree. I completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in downtown Baltimore at the University of Maryland Midtown Campus, serving an urban underserved patient population.

After completing my residency, I entered the US Navy to serve my commitment for payment of my medical education at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan. While in Okinawa I met my husband, a Marine Corps Officer. After my three-year military commitment, we moved to Fredericksburg, VA, where I joined a private practice.

Over the next 20 years, we would live in multiple places including another tour in Okinawa. Our final tour brought us back to the DMV where we settled in Great Falls, VA. I began working for HealthWorks at the Leesburg location in 2016.

Tell us about your business/nonprofit, and how long you’ve been in your industry.

HealthWorks is a Federally Qualified Health Center also known as a community health center. We are a 501c 3 nonprofit supporting communities in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. There are over 1400 Community Health Centers across the United States. These centers are supported in part by federal funding to ensure that those who are uninsured, underinsured, or low-income have access to quality affordable health care.

HealthWorks provides medical, dental, behavioral healthcare, and a multitude of services that assist our patients in accessing the care they deserve including referral management, assistance with Medicaid applications and marketplace insurance products, transportation, and language interpretation.

How did you get into this line of work?

I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was six. This stemmed from watching my grandmother interact with her primary care physician. What I did not know then was that the health center providing care for my grandmother was a Federally Qualified Health Center.

My love for community medicine was born from my residency training at a community hospital. Taking care of low-income patients facing what we now call the social drivers or determinants was fulfilling for me. I practiced military medicine and spent time in private practice, but I knew my heart was in caring for the underserved.

Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that guided your career?

My grandmother was my inspiration. She believed in me and that has guided my career. Her guiding principle was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

What is the best part of your job and why?

I am a people person. I am energized when collaborating with the staff and patients. I enjoy getting to know people and helping them to navigate their concerns. Making a difference in the lives of others is what I live for.

What is it like doing business in Loudoun/Northern Virginia?

It has been wonderful working in Loudoun County because there is such a strong non-profit network. There is a collaboration that exists in this community that I have never seen elsewhere.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

I have been practicing medicine for over 27 years. When I first started in practice, I was a minority both as a female and as an African American in medicine. I am proud to be a woman who is shaping the future of our country.

Favorite things to do when you are not working?

Spending time with my family is at the top of my list. This includes my immediate family as well as my extended family known as “The Talented Twelve.”  I also love to craft and create beautiful things.