ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Mark Riley

Improving the Health and Lives of others as a Health Care Leader

Mark works for Coventry Health Care, an Aetna Company as a Health Education Coordinator in the managed care industry. He brings over 10 years of experience in health promotions and health services management.

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits
companies, serving an estimated 45 million people with information and
resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care.

Professional Development:

In 2007, I earned my Bachelors of Science degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Corporate Fitness and Exercise Science from the University of Central Missouri. Prior to graduating I became an ACE Certified Personal Trainer in 2006. I decided to further my education by earning my Masters of Health Administration degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2012. Recently I became a Certified WELCOA Faculty member in 2014. While I continue to be a lifelong learner, I believe my Master’s degree from Mizzou has positioned me the best to impact the health and lives of others.

Demonstrated Success:

Physical inactivity is a threat to everyone in the United States, especially to those working in jobs that require ling periods of sitting, often in front of a computer. Unfortunately a lot of organizations lack the funds and space to build an on-site workout facility for their employees.

Company walking programs are a successful health promotion activity; due to the low-cost and easiness to get individuals to increase their physical activity levels. The walking program also acts as a way to address other common health problems such as nutrition, chronic diseases, and stress. The benefits of getting an organization walking can improve the morale of employees and their overall health.

Participants who successfully complete the walking program tend to experience lower health care costs, improved energy and focus, and lower levels of stress. New habits were formed whereas before a visit to the vending machine was replaced with a walk around the building or climb up the stairs. Individuals began requesting other low-cost activities that promoted health throughout the work week and available food options were reviewed based on nutritional value and employee feedback.

WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks provide a great framework to help guide health promotion programs and interventions for our clients. Taking time to conduct surveys and gather information from the populations we’re working with allows us to get a better understanding of their wants and needs when designing programs. It’s important to use this information when presenting ideas to key decision makers and being able to support those ideas with meaningful data.

Prior to launching one of our walking programs a survey was conducted of the employee population asking them which programs they would be interested in participating in; the answer we received from over half of the employees was a walking or running program. We were able to take this data and share it with key decision makers. A plan was created that included number of participants, timeline of events, costs associated with the program, and metrics to track participation and outcomes of the program.

The walking program was a success because it allowed for each individual to start with an activity that they were able to do and one that was easily modifiable based on their individual goals and level of motivation.

Whether you are just starting your career as a health promotion professional or a seasoned veteran, WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks, help you create and implement successful programs time and time again. Incorporating the information and resources from WELCOA will help any health promotion professional have a positive impact on the companies and individuals they serve.


I have always enjoyed being physically active since I was young and continue to focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve made it a habit to schedule time to eat a healthy lunch and work out throughout the week while encouraging my co-workers to do the same. We’ve incorporated FitBits to help motivate us while we compete against each other in different challenges.

Taking advantage of resources from WELCOA and applying the information learned has allowed me to help lead others. When you take the time to share what you know and work with others to develop opportunities to encourage healthy lifestyles you will become a valuable partner people look towards and trust.

Becoming a successful leader requires you to be willing to serve and mentor those you are leading. In order for us to have the greatest impact on others we must establish relationships and invest the time to help encourage and motivate other to live a healthy lifestyle.


Within our communities and companies we serve there are so many opportunities to get involved and promote the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. One of the biggest challenges is to get individuals to actively participate in programs we’ve created. Instead of trying to persuade individuals to join our groups and activities we identified existing groups we could join that supported healthy lifestyles and activities.

This strategy allowed us to share information and build trust with the members already active in the groups and ultimately impact the organization by decreasing top health risks 30 percent. Individuals were able to see their improvements and success which resulted in them spreading the word to their co-workers to incorporate healthy tips into their own lifestyle. The culture of the organization improved because the message promoting health was no longer coming just from the wellness professionals, but collectively from multiple sources within the organization.

Compelling Vision:

No matter what challenges or opportunities we face in the future, the health promotion industry’s ability to anticipate and respond positively to the changes in health care will allow us to achieve the greatest impact on those we serve. As we continue to promote the importance and benefits of wellness on multiple levels we will need to demonstrate our value and ability to positively impact the health of members at the individual level.

As a member of WELCOA I plan to continue taking advantage of the information and certification series available on a yearly basis to expand my knowledge and skills as a health promotion professional. Applying WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks and demonstrating continued success will help show the importance of working with qualified practitioners. I will be looking to align myself with organizations and groups dedicated to creating a culture of health improving individual’s health in their communities.

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