My adventure in this field began over 15 years ago and in that time I have had a chance to observe, experience and learn a great deal through my own journey as well as those of the people around me. There have been many twists, turns and challenging decisions along the way, but this adventure is one that I wouldn’t trade for anything! I recently accepted a new position as a Regional Wellbeing and Engagement Consultant with Arthur J. Gallagher & Company, a global partner for risk management and benefits solutions. My primary focus in this role is to provide our clients the support they need to develop total health promotion and wellbeing practices with strategic design, implementation and evaluation of their wellbeing initiatives. I believe that building and maintaining a culture that creates and encourages opportunities for employees to obtain whole person wellbeing are key to attracting and retaining an engaged, resilient workforce and I am blessed to work for a company that believes the same!
Prior to joining the Gallagher team, I was the Wellness Coordinator for the employee wellness program at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska for almost nine years helping them achieve Platinum Well Workplace status four times consecutively. I was honored to be recognized as one of the 2014 Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals in the country by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) and I have learned through all of this that helping ‘connect the dots’ (connecting people, resources, etc.) is one of the most effective ways to really make a difference in the lives of others and has helped me be a change agent in the field of wellbeing.
I am a 2001 graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science with a Health Promotion emphasis. An incredible teacher there helped me see that a career in health promotion is exactly where I belong with the passion and personality I possess. I previously held the ACSM Health Fitness Specialist certification for 12 years, earned WELCOA faculty status and was recognized with the Howie J. Halperin Volunteer Award through WELLCOM in both 2007 and 2011. I am CPR/AED certified and have completed Crucial Conversations, Crucial Accountability, Agile and Emergenetics trainings. I am a Certified Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and currently serve as secretary on the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) board of directors. While my collection of education, trainings and certifications continually expands, the most important and valuable resources I have are my passion for helping others with their wellbeing goals and the strength of being able to connect the dots and bring people together.
Demonstrated Success & Innovation
While working at BCBSNE I observed a disconnect between the award-winning wellness program we were offering to our employees and the engagement levels of the employees. While our participation numbers were successful across the gamut of programming options, the actual impact of those programs on our employees was lacking. What I began to see was employees simply ‘checking the boxes’ to earn their wellness incentives. Though discouraging, this provoked me to create something to really make a difference for each employee that chose to participate and not be a one-size-fits-all initiative. From that, I created a ten-week classroom style initiative that focused on whole-person wellbeing, growth and development. This ‘personal tune-up’ initiative turned out to be one of my proudest accomplishments and covered topics such:
- Starting with the end in mind
- Motivation & purpose
- Gratitude & happiness
- Physical health
- Serving others
- Emotional intelligence
- Personal accountability and
I wanted to focus on helping the participants learn more about who they are, what legacy they want to leave behind and connecting them with the proper resources to help them continuously strive toward being the best version of themselves.
The connections I made with the participants and the differences I saw in them during that short amount of time was inspiring to say the least.
I found the 7 Benchmarks quite helpful during this process as it was key to have leadership support from the beginning, creating an operating plan was paramount to the process of building the content, and collecting data was vital to evaluate the effectiveness and success of the initiative. Surveying the participants during week one, week ten and then at six-months post showed sustainable increases in participant’s satisfaction levels in things like their energy level, their motivation level, their general mood, their job and their life overall among other areas. The survey results also supported that this initiative helped positively influence a number of aspects professionally including overall mood/happiness, focus, stress reduction, productivity, efficiency and more. I received a number of incredible testimonials from participants and it warmed my heart to hear that something I had created and facilitated made a significant improvement in their lives.
While I had great success in leading the internal wellness efforts at BCBSNE, I am very excited to now have the opportunity to expand my reach and help not one, but many employers create, implement and maintain wellbeing strategies and initiatives. I am most proud of having a role in helping our clients create a shift from traditional wellness programming to a more holistic wellbeing strategic approach. Each client employer has a variety of employees working for them, all of which bring their whole self to work every day. Each of those employee’s wellbeing influences both individual and organizational performance. I strive to find or create the best-fit solutions for my clients to provide a culture that supports and engages the whole person utilizing multiple dimensions of wellbeing.
Leadership & Vision
I believe in leading by example and helping others understand that we are all unique and that what works for one, may not work for another. Building relationships, listening to the stories of those I meet along my journey in life and helping connect people and resources are my tools of choice. When walking the talk I emphasize that balance and happiness are key factors to overall health. For example, I am not a runner, but I love dancing around and playing with my four children; I don’t do much for structured exercise routines, but I make it a point to take the stairs anytime I am able, walk as much as possible, and do a few extra curls when carrying the laundry basket!
Being mindful of what I am doing and how it affects my overall health and happiness is how I live a life of wellbeing. I take some quiet time when I need it, I color to help calm my mind, I dance and play and laugh as much as possible, I do what makes me happy and I spread love and kindness often.
By being me and continuing to work towards the best ‘me’ I can be in a positive and confident way, I have shown others that it is ok to be unique, to be individual, to ‘be-YOU-tiful’! That has helped me achieve respect and friendships that I am forever grateful for as well as aided in gaining leadership status in the field. My advice to other wellness practitioners wanting to be seen as leaders in the field is to be true to who you are. There are a variety of ideas and opinions in the world, including in the wellness field. It is important not to get caught up in conforming to what others think or believe simply to fit in or to follow the crowd.
Knowing who you are, what makes you wonderful and what strengths you bring to the table are what are going to set you apart and strengthen this field and bring about new ideas and progress! My vision for the Health Promotion industry as a whole is that we are on the verge of big and wonderful transformations. The threat of being stuck in this rut we have dug for ourselves is prominent, but I know that with the strong and wonderful minds and spirits of those that are in this field, and the combined efforts and creativity of us all…we will break free from that rut and we will shift and grow and transform to a culture of kindness and caring for people again! In that culture of kindness and caring we will see people become happier, healthier and begin to care more for themselves because others care for them as well.