Tammy Lee, MBA, CEO, Xena Therapies

What is your current role?

I founded Xena Therapies in late 2019 and we began manufacturing in February 2020 – the month before we had to shut down in response to the global pandemic. We make wearable therapies that utilize plant-based cooling technology in Red Wing, Minn., under the Opal and ONYX COOL brands of products. Opal makes cool products for hot women – from breastfeeding moms through menopause and women with MS. ONYX COOL therapies are safer than ice and designed to help treat orthopedic and sports injuries and are preferred by patients, physicians and nurses for post-op recovery.

Why did you join the TRUST?

I joined the TRUST in January 2023 to expand my network of women in health care. I know several other women who are members of the TRUST and all are accomplished leaders in the industry. Seeing the quality and caliber of these women made me want to be a part of this group.

What has been your favorite part of being a TRUST member?

I attended the TRUST Forum in April and was inspired by the accomplishments of the amazing female honorees. I loved the networking happy hour and the opportunity to mingle with women I’ve known professionally for years as well as meet new women who are growing into new leadership roles. I love meeting Minnesota’s she-roes in health care.

What one word would you use to summarize what the TRUST means to you?

Quality. When you trust something or someone, you believe in their quality and integrity. The women who are members of this organization know that every interaction they have with another member is going to be a meaningful connection. Women of all ages and stages of their professional health care journey trust this organization to help expand their networks and advance their careers as they commit to doing the same to help other members.

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

Raise your hand and say yes to everything. Almost every new job or promotion I received along the way was the result of showing up and saying yes to new assignments or additional work. Even when I wasn’t the most qualified candidate for the role, I was the candidate other leaders saw as a team player and leader that loved learning new things and taking on new challenges.

As a CEO, I also build teams based on attitude and aptitude. I’ve been fortunate to have many great mentors in my career – both men and women. The best experience was early on in my career when I worked in TV news. The news director encouraged me to learn all aspects of the business – in front of and behind the camera, as well as in the editing suite. It taught me how everyone on the team played an equal part in getting the story on the air – not just the person holding the microphone. You can’t be successful in front of the camera, on stage or leading a company without a great team behind you.

How do you support other women in their leadership journey?

I’m on the Board of Regents for Concordia College and, as part of my service to the college, I’m also a mentor in the Hollstadt Women in Leadership program, which pairs business women with exceptional female college students. I also love working with other women in health care, business and biotech to help them succeed by avoiding some of the mistakes we all make as first-time CEOs and founders.

What do you love the most about the health care industry?

The health care industry is the heartbeat of our lives and economy. We have the privilege of doing meaningful work at the intersection of innovation and health and helping people live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

How do you maintain or improve your health and well-being?

For my mental health and well-being, I love to play tennis and walk my dog. For my “heart health,” I love spending time with my daughter, Lissa. Family time is the best medicine.

Words of wisdom to live by?

Dance like nobody’s watching – and laugh like everybody is watching you dance.