ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Brenda Sillas


I’ve been in the field of wellness for over 10 years. However, my passion and purpose in life was discovered at the young age of 8 when someone I love very much was judged and criticized because of their weight. It was at that moment that I unconsciously made a decision towards dedicating my life to have a positive effect on the obesity epidemic. Through the years I’ve emerged myself in trying to understand how various societal factors and issues contribute tremendously to our epidemic of obesity. The fact that we are now facing an even greater epidemic of childhood obesity only reinforces my observations and research. We need to stop pointing the finger at individuals and begin focusing on creating supportive environments, communities and workplaces so that healthy behaviors are supported and encouraged in all facets of our daily lives. We are doing damage to ourselves by consistently making unhealthy the easy choice. America didn’t become obese overnight and the solution won’t happen overnight either. But the risk of doing nothing or continuing to do what we’re doing is far more frightening.

In addition to being a corporate worksite wellness professional, I'm also an empowered woman who is fun loving/ health conscious, a fashionista, mommy and lover of life! Currently, I am the Sr. Health Outcomes Consultant for Willis of San Diego, CA. Willis is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker who currently employs nearly seventeen thousand people globally and nearly six thousand people in the United States.

Reversing the trend of obesity through our environment, culture, and social norms.

I found my passion and obsession with obesity when I was 8 years old after someone made a judgment and mean comment about someone that I love very much. Without knowing anything about this hard working, dedicated, giving and loving person, someone else decided it was ok to judge them because of their size and weight. I'm fed up because society is making us obese and unhealthy. Healthy is not the easy choice in America and this needs to change.

I pursued a career in worksite wellness to have a positive effect on the obesity epidemic.  My experience in Toastmasters International has helped me tremendously in effectively communicating the importance of worksite wellness, and articulating the message to a number of audiences.


  • 2007 – Bachelor’s degree, Health Science, California State University, Chico
  • 2011 – MBA, University of Phoenix


  • 2008 – Certified Wellness Program Manager
  • 2010 – Certified Health Education Specialist

Public Speaking:

  • 2014 – Advanced Communicator Bronze, Toastmasters International

Recognitions/ Awards:

  • 2014 – Healthcare Champions Awards Finalist & Healthiest Places to Work, San Diego Business Journal

When I first joined Willis in mid-2012, a few of our clients had adopted wellness strategies within their organizations’.  However, as risk advisors, the Willis team knew the value and importance that effective wellness strategies had on mitigating overall costs and risks which is why they hired me.  Within 2 years, we have more than tripled the number of clients that have adopted wellness programs as part of their overall business strategies.

Our recommendations for programs and interventions for clients focus on the entire person as a whole, directly addressing all areas of well-being: social, community, financial, career, and physical.  While targeted interventions are important, it is equally important to address overall well-being and assuring that employees are engaged in their careers, have purpose in their lives, and are emotionally resilient.  By utilizing this approach, we are able to address all lifestyle related disease and risk factors.  I use WELCOA’s 7 benchmarks everyday,  here are a few examples on how.

Capturing CEO Support:

  • All if not most of our clients have at least one leader in their organization that send out regular communications regarding wellness initiatives.
  • Willis has created an “executive spotlight” template for our clients to use where executives can share their personal health promotion practices.
  • Within our office, our leadership has become the biggest advocate for wellness and this has helped tremendously in helping others adopt healthy behavior changes.  She is constantly sharing her weight loss success with the office and supports ALL wellness initiatives.
  • With the help of our leadership within our office we are committed to engaging and partnering with the community of San Diego to leverage some of the initiatives that are already in place city wide such as Live Well San Diego.

Supportive Environments:

  • At Willis we see associates getting together after work to run, they run marathons together, and discuss healthy recipe ideas.  Fresh fruit is delivered to the office weekly and because of our efforts at Willis, San Diego, we were recognized as one of the Healthiest Places to Work by the San Diego Business Journal.
  • With our help, our clients are now switching out the food in their vending machines to include healthier options.  Some of our clients have eliminated offering desserts during company sponsored events.
  • We have also helped our clients reduce tobacco use at the workplace by helping them implement workplace policies around tobacco use in addition to tobacco surcharges

Operating Plan:

  • This is a must from Willis for our clients. Several of our new clients had been doing wellness initiatives prior to becoming our clients and were frustrated because they weren’t seeing any results or impact.  And the reason why was because there was no operating plan!  By helping our clients create an operating plan, we have been able to create structure, purpose, and identify effective methods of evaluation.  Thus, eliminating the feeling of “not knowing where I’m headed.”

I’m an empowered and passionate female leader who leads by example.  I’m career oriented, have a family and I manage to workout, eat healthy, manage my stress effectively, and I’m genuinely happy about it and embrace every challenge that comes my way. I’ve been able to create a work/life blend because I have found my passion and purpose in life. I have a blog that is dedicated to empowering others to live a higher quality of life, I’m involved in my community and I share my story.   Having gone through life changing events and constantly exposing myself to new and different experiences is what has helped me achieve leadership in my field, especially as a woman. The advice that I would give to other wellness practitioners is to know where you want to go and how you want to get there, be authentic, get help in the areas where you need it, and identify what it is that you’re passionate about - be specific.    

Rather than simply having a wellness committee or wellness champions, I’ve helped our clients establish a task force that is dedicated to supporting the wellness program.

The task force consists of three layers:

  1. Steering committee
  2. Wellness committee
  3. Wellness Champions

By adopting this approach, clients are able to have representation across all levels of employees, from the c-suite, to middle management all the way down. I’ve helped clients identify roles within each category for example, treasurer, coordinators, communications, etc.  This approach has directly impacted their culture and engagement rates.  I’m also working on empowering clients to leverage the power of social media and the use of hash tags.

My vision is that we will have a positive effect on the obesity epidemic by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Partnering with corporations and businesses to create social/mass change in the area of health and well-being
  2. Become actively engaged and work in the communities we live in to impact health and well-being
  3. Take the focus out of health risks and shift it towards helping people find passion and purpose in life in an effort to live a higher quality of life!

The greatest opportunities I see for the health promotion industry is creating cultures of health in communities and corporations in order to change the health of America.  I also see an opportunity to create more jobs for wellness professionals who want to work in this field.  In the next five years I plan to further establish myself in the industry and continue doing as many speaking engagements as possible.


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Never give up, you CAN do it! Eating Fruits and Veggies is Fun! Corporate Worksite Wellness Professional Running my first half marathon.  I never thought I could do it. OPT for Fit Kids!  Life is about slowing down and stopping to smell the flowers. Life is to be lived filled with passion and purpose. Diego is my son.  I dedicated my first half marathon to him. San Diego Business Journal - Health Care Champion Awards
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