Since 2009, Peter Seljevold has served as the director of the North Dakota Worksite Wellness Initiative. The initiative was initially launched as a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND), Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) and the North Dakota Department of Health. In 2013, it became a BCBSND entity with close working ties to DMF and the state Health Department. The initiative serves as resource to assist business, organizations and schools in the state to implement worksite wellness programs and health promotion activities. Peter is a staff of one but works closely with the BCBSND wellness team and a network of partners across the state. Peter has 30 years of experience in the fitness/wellness arena ranging from personal fitness to community programming.
This is a promo video for our annual Worksite Wellness Summit. It summarizes well what our initiative is all about.
I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology and business administration from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. , a master’s degree in exercise science from St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN., and a masters degree in business management from the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND. I worked 14 years as a clinical exercise physiologist, seven years as YMCA program director and two years in the financial services industry. During the past five plus years, my current position as the administrator of the North Dakota Worksite Wellness Initiative has allowed me to blend all my previous professional experience to deliver solutions to the companies I consult with. In addition to my academic and professional pursuits, I am an active athlete participating in road races, recreational sports leagues and an avid handball player. I have attended many national and regional conferences including WELCOA trainings. In 2013, I was recognized by Dakota Medical Foundation as a Star Award Winner for exemplary leadership in community collaboration and healthy lifestyle promotion throughout North Dakota.
The North Dakota Worksite Wellness Initiative came to fruition as a result of the North Dakota Strategy and Vision Steering Committee, comprised of medical and industry leaders in the state. Facing rising rates of diabetes, obesity, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition habits in North Dakota, the committee recommended the hiring of a statewide worksite wellness director to develop resources and trainings for businesses to use. Since I was hired in 2009, we have accomplished the following;
Although I am technically a staff of one leading this initiative, I work closely with the BCBSND wellness team, a wide variety of state agencies including the state health officer and a network of wellness consultants and champions throughout the state. By building trusted relationships with individuals and organizations we have a formed a community of like minded professionals with the ultimate goal of transforming the health status of our state through education, policy change and cultural shifts. In some small way we feel we have contributed to North Dakota recently being named No. 1 in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2013. On a personal level, I serve on several boards and committees such as the Cass-Clay YMCA, Eventide Senior Living Center and the Cass Clay Healthy People initiative. I try to use my position to influence the affairs of these organizations to adopt healthy practices and enhance the well-being of their employees and the community.
The thing we have done differently in North Dakota is to introduce this initiative as a true collaboration between influential partners (BCBSND, DMF and the Health Department) in the state. Although BCBSND is the primary owner of the program now, the spirit of the initiative remains the same: to help all North Dakota businesses improve the health and well-being of their workforce.
I think the biggest challenge for the industry is to continue demonstrate value to employers. This may not be in the form of purely an economic ROI but rather in terms of what a culture of health can do for morale, recruitment, retention and productivity. We can see that culture shift happening in North Dakota where wellness programs continue to gain in popularity and they are becoming the norm in worksites. I plan to continue in my current role and help improve the health status of all North Dakotans.