ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Liz Jones

Transforming Lives and Organizations

Current Company: City of Mesquite & Liz
Job title: Wellness Coordinator
Industry Type: Government & Health/Wellness
Years in the Field: 20+
Organization size: 1,110+

WELCOA DISH Award Oct 2014


Current Company: City of Mesquite & Liz

Job title: Wellness Coordinator

Industry Type: Government & Health/Wellness

Years in the Field: 20+

Organization size: 1,110+

1. Professional Development

Education: I have a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership & Strategic Management, my focus was on leading organization change and ethics.  I have an undergraduate degree in communication and writing and had a minor in dance and various fitness classes.
Certifications achieved:

WELCOA faculty certification

Eat Right for Life
Walking 4 Wellness
Well Workplace University—The Art and Science Of Building A Results-Oriented Wellness Program Using WELCOA's Seven Benchmarks (Beginning & Intermediate/Advanced)

National Federation of Professional Trainers- certified personal trainer

Cooper trained- personal training and first responder work injury prevention

Yoga Alliance- Registered Yoga Teacher

Various certifications in mental health, safety, non-violence, leadership, ethics, and coaching

I am working on a certification as a nutrition therapist through the Health Sciences Academy

Deans’ list several times in college, various (small) scholarships, several best mom in the world cards (just kidding).  The City of Mesquite was recently recognized by the AHA for being a Fit-Friendly worksite.
I decided to go into my field very specifically.  I used to work in domestic abuse programs and worked on public policy issues.  Although that work is valuable and needed, I did not feel that it addressed people from a holistic perspective and I believe people need to be healed and empowered on numerous levels to be truly well.
WELCOA trainings have been great.  They have been very useful in creating wellness programming for our employees.  Yoga really changed my life though.

2. Demonstrated Success

Our most successful program/intervention is hard to pinpoint.  Different things have been most impactful for different people.  In my opinion, the Engine 2 Challenge that we held was amazing.  It addressed eating a more plant-based diet. 
The intervention that worked best was doing a challenge that included a kickoff and ending celebration lunch and learn, online support, exercise instruction, a website and handout that had recipes and tips, before and after measurements, wellness coaching.
i. Almost everyone who participated dropped cholesterol points.  Many people dropped a huge amount- one person dropped 86 points.

ii. People tried new vegetables and added more plant-based meals to their daily lives. 

iii. It really made an impact seeing the results and inspired other people to participate in our wellness programming.  We are incrementally making a huge impact on organizational change at a decent pace.  True and lasting change takes some time, but we are really making progress quickly.

7 benchmarks

We have captured CEO support by having the City Manager regularly speak about what we are doing in our wellness programming.  He has an audio “show” that he does called “Time with Ted” where he announces things that we are doing and lets people know how to participate.
We have a cohesive wellness team that includes our Risk and Human Resources department as well as input from all stakeholders.  We are working on identifying Wellness Champions for the upcoming year.
We have access to Health Risk Assessment aggregate data, as well as before and after information from participants in challenges (which is kept confidential and only publicly aggregate data, unless specifically given permission).
All of our programming is carefully planned, based on employee interest, our highest risk factors and highest claims.
We choose appropriate interventions based on our employees’ needs.  For example, we added a lunchtime yoga class once a week because stress management is one of the leading health concerns of our staff.
I am very blessed to work in such a supportive environment to be able to do the work that I am passionate about and love to do.  Employees crave assistance in working toward being healthier.  Leadership understands the correlation between healthy employees and cost savings, as well as a more productive and effective workforce.
We evaluate outcomes of each program by reviewing the data in challenges, or asking for regular feedback and input from stakeholders.

3. Leadership

a. I walk the talk by practicing a healthy lifestyle.  I do resistance training 5 days a week (most weeks) as well as cardio exercises.  I eat clean and offer meal ideas and recipes online.  I practice yoga, sometimes more than others, and I write a column in the local newspaper about my own struggles, advice and success in wellness.  I re-evaluate where I am at in my own wellness journey on a regular basis and add new things as I need to shake things up or light a fire in myself.

b. Having formal training in leadership and an outspoken, outgoing personality has helped me a lot.  Continuing my education, far beyond by required CEUs so I can continue to learn new things and be a better and better coach and resource for people.  A genuine concern and compassion for people is the most important thing I have to offer as a leader in the wellness field.  Also, being a writer has helped me quite a bit to be able to share ideas and support with large groups of interested people.

c. Really find a position that you are passionate about and feel that you can make an impact.  Share your personal story as appropriate.  Make sure that people realize that you are there to support them in their journey, but that it is really up to them.  Sometimes it is hard not to want to “make” others do what you think is best for them, but we really do need to focus on leadership and support, not mandates and orders in order to make lasting, life-changing impact.

4. Innovation

Having a team that I rely on.  One specific team member is that I added a registered dietician to our wellness programming that is available to our employees at no cost to them
I write individual wellness plans for many employees that need extra assistance and meet with several who are struggling with obesity and need extra support to get the gym
Focusing on stress management and financial wellness, rather than just fitness and nutrition.  Holistic wellness!

b. Working with a registered dietician has had a MAJOR impact on health status improvement, behavior change.  Having a multi-discipline approach to wellness helps to keep people accountable, as well as gives them an extra level of support.  I know that one coordinator cannot “do it all” and I am successful because of the team I work with.  Our dietician, Karla’s, expertise has been invaluable to many people who have lost a significant amount of weight.  As far as cultural change, the rest of our team is also vital to the success of our program, from Grace in Risk Management who helps me to get food and snacks for various events, to Charles, our Risk Manager, who has had a major impact on having a work environment that makes it possible for me to successfully and happily do my work and have creative flow and time to brainstorm and organize our programming, and allows me to be out in the field and manage my busy work flow as it works best to achieve our goals and objectives.  Rick, our Human Resources Director also has an impact on the culture change, bringing ideas and being publicly supportive and appreciative of the work that goes into our programming. Scott, our yoga instructor, helps people manage their stress and also sends out a weekly email to participants in the class, which helps to keep them engaged and keeps wellness top of mind.

5. Compelling vision

a. The biggest threat to the health promotion industry is being a priority in the budget to offer quality programming. Too much money is spent on “things” and not enough on resources , in my opinion.  To have excellent wellness programming, organizations need to have well-paid, well-educated, and creative wellness coordinators.  I also think that overall, leadership support and employee participation is both the biggest threat and opportunity all at once.  If people don’t willingly participate in programming, it makes it hard to be successful if they just show up because they “have” to and phone in any effort to become healthier.  America got where it is because of people being prone to being sedentary and being addicted to unhealthy foods.  We need to dig a lot deeper with people, offering both group education and individual planning, that is customized to their struggles and needs.

b. in the next five years I plan to complete my training as a nutritional therapist and to find more opportunities to write and speak publicly as a wellness professional.

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Elizabeth J.
AAAALIZ Serving those in need and creating ways to better our communities by helping organizations and individuals to achieve wellness in their lives continues to be my passion and mission. I have over 25 years of business experience and 20 years of experience in the fitness and wellness industry. I am a registered yoga teacher, a professional trainer and wellness coach. I have a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Strategic Management and a certificate in Ethics and Leadership as well as a legal education. My bachelor’s degree is in communication with a focus on writing. I have created employee wellness programs for various organizations. View Elizabeth J.'s Profile.
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Hi Liz, All the best with your contest entry. Your achievements, innovation and leadership in Workplace Wellness within your organization is most impressive. Congratulations! I would love to connect with you offline to chat more about your programs and services as I am seeking interested and talented Workplace Wellness Professionals like yourself as guest presenters/facilitators for our online Ambassador Certification program. Additionally, I would most welcome a case study of your organization's successes for a KWC International White Paper on Workplace Wellness Perspectives, Best Practices, & Case Studies that we are currently developing. With permission, these papers will also become case studies for our soon to be launched Certification Program providing further recognition to your amazing successes. Please contact me at if either of these opportunities are of interest to you. I look forward to connecting in the near future! Lisa Kelly

Lisa K. on 10/09/2014

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