Wahrgren Honored Among ‘2017 Women of Influence’

Wahrgren Honored Among ‘2017 Women of Influence’

How about this concept for a pharmacy: no personal care or household items, no greeting cards and no candy. Just life-saving medicines.

The business model works and is bringing recognition to Chandra Wahrgren (MBA09), who is putting her MBA from George Fox to good use as founding president of Ardon Health in Portland.

Her role in establishing the new specialty drug pharmacy earned her recognition in May as one of Portland’s 2017 Women of Influence. She received the honor at the 14th annual awards ceremony sponsored by the Portland Business Journal. Winners are established business leaders who are outstanding performers in their field and have a track record of innovation and meaningful community involvement.

“[George Fox] really helped me to embrace my own leadership style. You can’t try to be like other leaders.”

“I’m very, very honored,” says Wahrgren of the award. “It’s sincerely appreciated.” But she adds that the recognition should be shared with the people who surround her.

Wahrgren has guided Ardon since its founding three years ago. It is a part of Moda Health, a health insurance company that serves Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The new pharmacy primarily serves those states but delivers to all 50. Under Wahrgren’s leadership, Ardon’s revenue growth has exceeded 300 percent since 2014 while expanding from a small staff to 38 full-time employees this spring.

Ardon Health’s primary business is providing prescriptions by mail, which accounts for 98 percent of sales. Most customers are those with long-term, chronic diseases such as HIV, cancer, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis. Their specialty medicines, required by only about 1 percent of the public, average $5,000 a month and typically don’t come in cheaper generic versions. Prescriptions are labor intensive, often injectable, and many require supervision, monitoring, and special storage and handling.

Wahrgren is quick to point out that Ardon provides an elevated level of clinical support to ensure safety and manage side effects. It helps its customers via telephone contact and with links to other resources, including patient advocates and clinicians with expertise in various diseases.

Now in her 18th year with Moda (formerly ODS), Wahrgren started as an account executive, then rose through six positions in marketing account services and pharmaceutical programs to become vice president for client strategies in 2011. She retains that title but also oversees pharmaceutical programs and account services, business development, and retention for all lines of business. With two roles, she has a presence at Moda’s headquarters in downtown Portland, but her main office is at Ardon’s physical location near the Portland International Airport.

Wahrgren credits her George Fox business administration classes for her leadership success. “They really helped me to embrace my own leadership style,” she says. “You can’t try to be like other leaders.”

She says she also took note of her professors, who “all demonstrated an incredible level of humility and caring” and learned from them that “you can be tough and kind at the same time.”

Wahrgren, who says one of the reasons she chose George Fox’s MBA program was its Christian component, has shared her experience and success with current generations of George Fox students, speaking about health care careers and topics as part of panels for MBA students in the College of Business.

Outside of work, Wahrgren has served as a member of the board of trustees of St. Mary’s Academy in Portland since 2012. She also is an active parishioner and volunteer at Our Lady of the Lake Parish and School in Lake Oswego, where she lives with her husband and two children.