ENTRY FROM: 2016 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Denise Normandin, RD, LD

Focus on "BEING" and DREAM BIG! Start A Movement!

Healthy PSU is an award-winning, research-based wellness program at Plymouth State University (Plymouth, NH), designed to improve the health of over 800 university employees along with their families and assist in health care cost containment efforts of the University Systems of New Hampshire (USNH).
Our Mission: Healthy PSU seeks to promote a culture of positive health by providing leadership, opportunities and support for all PSU employees and their families, encouraging health and wellness in varied ways and thereby building healthy people in a healthy place.
The ultimate goal of this program is to shift the cultural narratives around health and health behaviors to produce long-term, sustainable improvements in employee health and reduce overall healthcare costs. The program is grounded in a social-ecological model of behavior change and uses strategic interventions that span across all levels of influence as depicted in this model.
Denise Normandin, RD, LD, brings 20 years of experience in a variety of settings from program management to public health. She brings a solid background in health education, program design, nutrition and physical activity education and administrative expertise to her role as Healthy PSU Program Manager. Since February 2014, Denise has established and nurtured a thriving group of employee “Wellness Champions”, whose roles are to broadcast, promote and lead campus-wide health behavior initiative which address the 5 program goals for establishing leadership, physical activity, healthy eating, stress reduction and benefits cost containment. Initiatives target the individual, social and environmental levels of influence for improving health choices. In 2014, Denise earned the status of one of the "Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals" from WELCOA. In July 2015, the Healthy PSU program was awarded the American Heart Association, Fit-Friendly Worksite Platinum Award, a tribute to Denise’s leadership and hard work. In June 2016, Plymouth State earned the designation as A Top 25 Active Company as part of WELCOA's On the Move initiative. In addition to what she has been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time, it is Denise’s compassionate leadership, commitment to the quality of programming, and to her own professional growth that most deserves consideration for the Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals status 2016.

Video Title: PSU Summit Day 2016: On the Move...Striving for the Summit!
YouTube Link:
Video Description: This short video shares the highlights of PSU Summit Day and I hope inspires others to rise to a challenge, whether it is the summit of a tall mountain or a walk in the park with a family member, friend or colleague. Empower those around you, keep moving with purposeful intention and thrive! Focus on "BEING" and DREAM BIG…because together we can start a movement in America towards improved health and well-being for all!

Denise Normandin, RD, LD

1. Professional Development:

I received my BS degree in Human Nutrition/Dietetics from Colorado State University and earned my Registered Dietitian status from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). After working for the American Heart Association and in clinical/outpatient nutrition for over 15 years, I began managing a research-based University health and wellness program. In 2014, I became a Certified WELCOA Faculty member. This certification process helped me apply best practices and make a difference in the lives of others. I have found the WELCOA resources and my MA coursework in Personal and Organizational Wellness (degree anticipated 5/2017, Magna Cum Laude) of most value. 

2. Demonstrated Success:

In 2012, after completing health risk appraisals, health culture audits and focus groups (Benchmark #3) an operational plan (Benchmark #4) was developed with the feedback from employees.  These steps were repeated in 2015. Our plan drives all the interventions that are conducted with input from our campus community.  One of our goals from this plan is to increase opportunities and access for regular moderate to vigorous physical activity for all employees.  Ways that we incorporate this at our workplace is by offering walking workshops, designated sneaker days, encourage walking meeting and group purpose walks.

In 2016, we took this to another level when we integrated WELCOA's On the Move (OTM) initiative. OTM challenged our employees by combining physical activity in the form of walking along with well-being principle’s (Benchmark #5). The on-line platform encouraged tracking movement, learning, sharing, assessing and social support in the form of boosting. This intervention encouraged leadership, teamwork and friendly competition. The OTM program ran for 12-weeks from April to June 2016. We had 121 employees participate (from all-levels of the organizations, including our University President) with ongoing encouragement from our site coordinator, Denise Normandin and over 30 Wellness Champions (Benchmark #1 & #2). PSU received the On the Move "Top 25 Most Active Company" designation from WELCOA.

Our employee participation rate was over 92%, included the following outcomes measures (Benchmark #3 & #7):

- PSU employees who met CDC guidelines for physical activity recommendations-doubled.

- 93% of the PSU employees migrated into activity category assoc. with wt. loss and health improvement with zero reporting sedentary lifestyle.

- 35% more employees reduced their sitting time outside of work. 

- 21% increase in employees believing their organization supported them in PA efforts. 

Healthy PSU continues to create supportive environments with point of decision prompts; welcome to our smoke and tobacco free campus signs, working on wellness door hangers, walking route maps, take the stairs and pole banners promoting Healthy People in a Healthy PlaceTM (Benchmark #6).

Biometric screenings and health risk assessments continue to assist us in determining our population's health-related risks. Starting in 2015, our employees received up to $400 incentive for completing the biometric screening and health assessment with consistent participation rates of 60%. Employee’s also regularly complete satisfaction and future interest surveys.
Plymouth State University recently released the Strategic Plan, Focus 2020.  In the plan for the first time is a goal specific to health and wellness (Benchmark #1)-Goal 5: PSU will distinguish itself as a holistic health and wellness-centered environment.  Having this goal demonstrates the expanding impact that the Healthy PSU campaign is having on the organization’s culture of health. We align our efforts utilizing evidence-based research methods and best practice models, like WELCOA on-line trainings and summit meetings.

3. Leadership:

Leadership is mainly accomplished by listening and meeting our employees where they are at which is key to creating cultural shifts.  I have led the charge of creating a culture of health at PSU, while empowering a group of over 30 Wellness Champions to communicate, engage and promote our wellness campaign. I have been invited to share our Healthy PSU program outcomes/accomplishments at National conferences, 2015 American Journal of Health Promotion and 2016 American College of Lifestyle Medicine. These organizations, along with WELCOA helped me acheive a leadership role in the field of health promotion through professional development training, relationship building and networking. I would advise other wellness practitioners to consider establishing and broadening networks to share the great work you do! Consider yourself an agent of change and do not be afraid to “Dream Big!”

4. Innovation:

I have contributed to the advancement of the industry by empowering individuals to move more during the work day to curb physical inactivity. Being passionate about making a difference and listening to what our employee's fitness dreams were from participating in WELCOA’s On the Move (OTM) Challenge, inspired the innovative idea of PSU Summit Day: On the Move…Striving for the Summit! We established a multi-disciplinary team (including National external wellness partners) to plan, organize and implement PSU Summit Day. This project inspired moving outdoors, hiking up the tallest peak in New Hampshire, Mt. Washington (6,288 elevation) on 10/15/2016. Each participant engaged a hiking buddy and established a purposeful intention for this day hike. The experiences gathered from the OTM initiative and PSU Summit Day have inspired a sense of community building and social connectedness at PSU like no other programs we have implemented.

5. Compelling Vision:

I believe employers and families are concerned now more than ever with rising healthcare costs. Health and wellness professionals have a unique opportunity to educate, provide guidance, advocate for policy change and create environments for people to thrive! There is no better time than the present, given the current state of inactivity during the school and work day, than to promote “purpose driven” physical movement and more holistic approaches to health. Research tells us investing in “people” is the right thing to do. We need to empower people to lead with good intention and inspire compassion. We are all human beings and when we feel cared about, we are more connected and more engaged to those around us. We are also more likely to make better health choices. Focus on "BEING" and DREAM BIG…because together we can start a movement in America towards improved health and well-being for all!

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Denise Normandin, RD, LD AHA Fit-friendly Platinum Award 2015 PSU Summit Day: On the Move...Striving for the Summit! MA Personal and Organizational Wellness Retreat Setting for Course OTM Top 25 Active Company 2016 VP Student Affairs helps at Tobacco Clean-up Nov.16 Reduce Stress, Move More, Connect and Be Grateful! On the Move Group Walk with Sean Foy/Plymouth State 2016 On the Move Walk with Coach Sean Foy at PSU Panthers 2016 Nutrition Education Workshop Healthy Holidays at PSU Networking at WELCOA15 with TOP 100 Professional Dev./Networking AJHP 2015 Dan Buettner Networking Dean Ornish at American College of Lifestyle Medcine 2016
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Denise N.
Denise Normandin has been in the health and wellness field for nearly 20 years in a variety of settings from program management to public health. She brings nutrition and health promotion expertise to her current role as Program Manager for Plymouth State University’s award-winning health and well-being research-based program/campaign. Denise gained her valuable nutrition experience in the hospital setting. Denise also served as the Program Manager for Quality Initiatives for the American Heart Association (AHA), Northeast Affiliate where she successfully managed the Get With The Guidelines® pilot project creating continuous quality system improvements which expanded to a National program. View Denise N.'s Profile.
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Service is one of our university's core values, and I can think of no other employee who has done so much to make our campus and the greater community a healthier place. I am inspired by her energy and enthusiasm. I am motivated by the endeavors, projects, and programs that she has organized. She has created a community of wellness that supports all members of our community, and her work's impact radiates outward. She brings faculty, staff, students, alums, and community members together in engaging and creative ways. Denise creatively engages folks in wellness-centered activities. Also, through Denise’s exceptional hard work, Plymouth State University is now a smoke-free campus.

Angela R. on 12/16/2016

Denise has worked tirelessly to improve her abilities to help others. She started by working while attending college in a bakery breaking down nutritional and calorie content of baked goods. Then moving onto The Heart Association in Colorado before transferring to NH after graduation. (see her summary). She has worked hard through the years at balancing work and home life, with four children (9-17) who are all very sports minded between field hockey, soccer, basketball, football and lacrosse (which she also coaches). She is also completing her Master's studies with completion in May 2017. She is dedicated to the field and in helping others along the way. No one is more deserving. DTP

Dorothy p. on 12/10/2016

Denise is truly an inspiration in the health and wellness field! She has demonstrated her passion for helping others through the programs she manages at Plymouth State and her community volunteer commitment to coaching youth lacrosse. Denise always has an upbeat attitude and a friendly smile! I am amazed at how much she is able to accomplish, as a full-time working Mother of four school-aged children-so proud of you!

Maurice P. on 12/09/2016

Thank you everyone for taking the time to vote! I truly appreciated your efforts and hopeful that this will move my nomination to the final round for expert review and judging! Happy Holidays and Best Wishes in the New Year! Cheers! Denise

Denise N. on 12/09/2016

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