ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Peter Seljevold

Building a Culture of Health in North Dakota

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.

North Dakota Worksite Wellness Summit

This is a promo video for our annual Worksite Wellness Summit. It summarizes well what our initiative is all about.

Professional Development

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.

Demonstrated Success

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; 

  • Raised the awareness of the value of worksite wellness programs in the state by presenting to multiple professional organizations, civic groups, chamber events and conferences annually.
  • Developed strong partnerships with multiple state agencies to cross promote services.
  • Developed a two-day intensive training program to assist wellness champions start or enhance their wellness programs – more than 200 individuals have been trained to date.
  • Developing future professionals by serving as an adjunct faculty to North Dakota State University and introducing students to worksite wellness concepts and a career path.
  • Recently hosted our fifth annual North Dakota Worksite Wellness Summit featuring national speakers, topic-specific breakout sessions and local success stories. Registration has steadily increased with more than  425 people in attendance this year
  • Co-funded and helped develop six pilot programs within the state. One of the programs was recognized by the CDC as a small business case study.
  • In conjunction with the Lt. Gov., recently developed and awarded our first annual Well Workplace Awards to 26 North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System wellness coordinators. Plans are underway to launch this award to all North Dakota businesses next year.
  • With the help of representatives from the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce, we developed an easy-to-use toolkit based upon WELCOA’s 7 benchmarks (now in its third edition) and have distributed more than 3,000 copies. In addition we developed a website ( as a companion to the toolkit which features additional national and local resources, templates, downloadable toolkit, training opportunities and a blog. We have recently added 16 Pinterest boards ( to allow for sharing of current resources.
  • According to our latest statewide survey, 59 new wellness programs have been implemented in North Dakota businesses since 2009.
  • We have become a credible and reliable source for worksite wellness information in the state of North Dakota and surrounding region.


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. 

Compelling Vision

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. 

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Comments 4

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Pete S. has lived a very active life style, and I do mean style, since childhood. The sport is irrelevant the joy to endeavor in it with exuberance is why Pete sets the bar so high. Stride on brother!

Robert M. on 10/26/2014

Pete is a well-known advocate and leader for health and wellness accross the state. He is very knowledgeble and always willing to offer advice to all organizations (large and small). His life-long commitment to the health and wellness industry prove that he has a strong passion for this line of work. I am honored to work with such an exceptional resource!! Vote for Pete!!

Stacy D. on 10/24/2014

Pete is an outstanding advocate for health and wellness. He is a mentor, an innovator and leader in Health and Wellness.. He has helped our state develop an outstanding Worksite Wellness program as well as put together and facilitated a yearly Wellness Summit for North Dakota. He is a connector and resource for many. I have been privileged to be a recipient of his mentoring and teaching for many years and believe he is worthy of this award. Thank you, Bert Speidel RN,BSN Certified Worksite Wellness Consultant for Sakakawea Medical Center Hazen, No. Dak.

Bert S. on 10/23/2014

Yes, Pete deserves this award!

JoVal W. on 10/22/2014

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