ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Kathy Menard-Rothe

Building a Culture of Health

Current Company: Froedtert Health
Job Title: Wellness Manager
Industry Type: Healthcare
Years In the Field: 6 years
Organization: 10,000

Professional Development

I received my undergraduate degree in Health Education and Physical Education from the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse in 1980 and my Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology in 1982 from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.  I worked for 26 years in the field of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, focused on secondary prevention.  I became Wellness Manager in 2008.  I implemented the 7 WELCOA benchmarks and applied for the Well Workplace Award.  Building our program using the benchmarks helped develop program that has continued to evolve.  I am a certified wellness coach, WELCOA Faculty member, an Executive Board Member for the Wellness Council of Wisconsin and sit on the Well City Milwaukee Advisory Board. 

Demonstrated Success

My team has been able to drive initiatives that affect the lives of our 10,000 staff.  An initiative that I am most proud is the “Choose to Eat Healthy” committee.  This committee is made up of leaders from Food and Nutrition Services, our COO and myself.  We implemented a program to align our dining rooms with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  We surveyed staff, offer bi-monthly education, made changes in the dining rooms including; more fresh fruits, standardizing cup size, eliminating fountain soda, increasing orange and green vegetables, decreasing sugar and sodium and the eliminating the deep fryers.  HRA data and a staff survey to assess whether the changes made in the dining rooms have affected behavior and improved health status. 

Participation in the HRA has grown from 1,700 in 2007 to 5,300 in 2014, with positive trends in blood pressure and fasting glucose from year to year.  We have 86% of those enrolled in the medical plan participating in the HRA.  We continue to increase engagement each year and are focused on a Culture of Health communication campaign.  Making changes to our benefits plan will continue to drive engagement by encouraging healthy behaviors through targeted programs to address the needs of our population.  Senior level support has been very important to our success.  Wellness and Population Health are a part of the health system’s strategic plan in 2014.  Using WELCOA’s 7 benchmarks to guide our program development has been critical to our success.  Providing appropriate programs, evaluating program success and reporting outcomes have helped drive additional programming and partnerships. 


As Wellness Manager, I feel it is very important for me to “Walk the Walk”.  I manage a team of 4 staff who all participate in programs.  I personally choose to eat healthy, exercise regularly, maintain my weight and see my physician regularly. 

Always trying to go above and beyond what is expected has helped me advance in my professional career.  I had worked in our healthcare system for 26 years prior to my role as Wellness Manager so I had gained the trust of many staff and leaders throughout the organization.  Using these relationships to form partnerships helped me immensely when I first got started in the field.   Participating in WELCOA webinars, attending Summits and Learning Circles helped me network with other wellness professionals and have provided me with many resources to build a successful program. 

My advice to those entering the field is to get involved and stay involved with other wellness professionals.  I enjoy mentoring others and feel that building relationships with students, colleagues and other healthcare professionals assists with a successful career. 


I am involved in a large population health initiative within our healthcare system.  I am part of a team working with members of our ACO to integrate the claims data from our self insured population into an integrated documentation tool.  Using claims data has allowed us to risk stratify and provide targeted programs. Using data analytics has allowed us to take a deeper dive into our population targeting transitions of care, chronic conditions, closing gaps in care and making appropriate referrals between the clinic setting and internal and external programming.  We have a dedicated Care Management RN who is able to effectively reach out to staff members and their families, assist with goal setting, providing tools, and resources, provide follow-up and the ability to document with the EMR and talk to the primary care providers when needed. 

Data analytics allows us to monitor medical plan spend (PMPM).  This project will take 18 months to 3 years to see ROI.  Behavior of our members is affected by the many touch points they receive from their healthcare provider’s office allowing for improvements in key quality metrics for chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.  Improvements in biometrics including; fasting glucose, blood pressure with a slight dip in BMI have been seen this year compared to 2013.  The Care Management RN has allowed our Wellness Works program to reach out to additional staff.  By imbedding services into the Workplace Clinic, working collaboratively with RN’s in the primary care office and directly communicating with health care provider we have been able to improve care coordination.   

Compelling Vision

I see the field of wellness moving towards a promotion of a Culture of health. Making sure that obstacles are removed for staff so that it is easy for them to make the right choice will be an important step in creating this culture of health.  I feel the use of technology, mobile apps and e-visits, will connect staff with the resources they need and will help move the field of health and wellness forward.  The use of data analytics will allow us to drill down more deeply into our populations so that we can provide staff with the necessary programs and resources to improve health and decrease healthcare costs. 

I feel in the next five years, it will be important to provide programming so that staff will be able to connect more with their purpose to achieve well-being.  Expanded use of Motivational Interviewing will allow coaches to connect with clients allowing them to create personalized goals based on their needs and how help clients understand how those goals relate to their purpose.   

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Kathy is a true leader in making wellness the way of work in Milwaukee. She is admired for her strong collaboration skills and ability to see and communicate opportunity for improvement and greater impact!

Gail B. on 11/17/2014

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