ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Tre' McCalister

Health Promotion practitioner with experience developing intiatives, for healthcare, non-profits, private and public organizations

Tre’ McCalister is a Principal at Mercer. She leads Mercer's Total Health Management consulting practice for Mercer in the Central Market region. She has been developing, implementing and managing health and wellness programs and disease prevention initiatives for corporations and non-profits for more than 20 years. Her areas of expertise include integrated health management analysis, health and productivity design and strategy development, and on-site clinical/health and wellness services. Her focus is on helping Jumbo, Large, and midmarket-sized clients develop and align health management strategies, engagement initiatives, policies and incentives to support employee and organizational health and performance goals. Tre’ has a doctorate in Health Education with concentration in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MA in Health Promotion and she completed her post-doctoral work with the Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan specializing in corporate employee health program evaluation. She is the volunteer Chair of the Austin Business Group on Health and she is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout her career, Tre' has published peer reviewed research, as well as acted as an editor and reviewer for various health promotion industry publications.
Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to manage health promotion initiatives in various work settings including; healthcare, high tech, manufacturing, non-profit, government agencies and in the consulting industry, working with companies from 200 to more than 300,000 employees. She received a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology, Health Promotion from The University of Texas at Austin in 1993. After taking a role as a Health Education Coordinator for Methodist Hospitals of Dallas, Tre’ focused on building out health education programs in churches, and in the community. She moved from Dallas back to Austin in 1995 for her husband's job, and decided to continue her education by earning a Master of Arts in Health Education from the University of Texas in Austin. She worked full time as a Wellness Coordinator for Applied Materials, a Semi-conductor Capital Equipment supplier while completing her degree, in 1997. During her tenure managing programs at Applied Materials, she became familiar with the seven Benchmarks as one of the employers selected as a Best Practice Partner, Corporate Employee Health Promotion and Demand Management (International Benchmarking Clearinghouse, American Productivity & Quality Center, 1996) and participated in a Benchmarking Study to identify characteristics of best practice worksite health programs, many of those characteristics identified in this 1996 study are the same as WELCOA's seven best practices.

The Applied Wellness program was started in 1988 to enhance worker performance and productivity.  The program’s mission is to improve employee and company health, well-being, and productivity to support Applied Materials’ profit and competitive advantage. The strategy is to provide the tools necessary for participants to develop their own personal wellness program. The wide arrays of programs offered are directed at either heightening awareness of basic health practices, facilitating behavior change and supporting a healthy culture, or are programs driven by specific business needs.  As a Wellness Manager of one of the award winning wellness program, Tre’ and the Applied Materials Wellness team had the opportunity to employ many of the best practices in order to fully integrate wellness into the culture of the company.While Tre’ worked at Applied Materials, the company received several prestigious awards for their industry leading worksite wellness initiatives, including the WELCOA Gold Award in 1996, and the C. Everett Koop award (1998) for which required demonstrating health risk improvement and savings. (  She left Applied Materials in 2003 to complete her post-doctoral education at the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, with Dee Edington, specializing in corporate employee health program evaluation.  Just prior to joining Mercer, Tre’ worked an additional 10 years work in Human Resources at Dell, where she was responsible for leading Dell’s U.S. health management and global wellness benefits for a second large multi-national company in the technology industry.  During her time at Dell, she managed employee health benefits initiatives; advised top executive leaders on health benefits cost, programming and design,  led cross-functional teams to direct company comprehensive health strategy for both  U.S. and global health management initiatives.   Throughout her career, Tre’ has managed various health benefits programs including U.S. healthcare strategy/design, leading integrated health and disability, comprehensive health improvement/wellness programs and on-site clinics.  She also has experience leading complex implementations for global programs such as; Employee Assistance Program, work-life and wellness initiatives, in more than 60 countries.  Under Tre’s leadership during her recent tenure at Dell Inc, Well at Dell, the company’s comprehensive health and wellness program received many accolades, including four National Business Group on Health, Best Employer for Healthy Lifestyle Awards (one Gold Award and three Platinum awards), the 2012 IHPM Value Based Health Award, CEO Cancer Gold Accreditation, and the 2013 C. Everett Koop Award (

In 2004, Dell launched a comprehensive wellness and health-improvement program, branded Well at Dell. Since its inception, the Dell program has created a culture of wellbeing that encourages a healthy lifestyle for team members and their families, while mitigating healthcare cost increases for the company. Well at Dell provides substantial financial incentives designed to engage and reward participants who monitor, maintain and improve their health. Along with annual health screenings and quarterly wellness challenges, the program provides resources such as telephone and on-site lifestyle coaching for health risk reduction, condition management programs, onsite fitness and health centers, as well as virtual wellness offerings. In the past year, more than 80 percent of team members and 45 percent of spouses/domestic partners have participated in Well at Dell health improvement and wellness programs. Well at Dell program participants have consistently experienced health improvement and reduction in health risks. Tracked over four years (2009-2012), repeat health survey (HRA) participants demonstrated a seven percent increase in the number of participants at low risk and a five percent decrease in the number of participants at high risk. Ten of twelve tracked health risks showed improvements with physical activity, nutrition, and stress as the most improved for both team members and spouses. Overall, the Well at Dell health management program has achieved high engagement rates, risk reduction in key health risks, evidence of cost reduction associated with risk reduction and annual ROIs at or exceeding 2.0:1 during this time period.


As a leader in the field and within her company, Tre’ considers herself fortunate having had the opportunity to work with several strong leaders in healthcare who have influenced her career and have helped her to grow and become a better health educator and healthcare practitioner. Tre’ takes her role as an industry leader, and adjunct faculty at UT as a privilege and she is committed to supporting the next generation of leaders in our field.  In addition to her role on UT's adjunct faculty, and teaching classes, Tre’ is the voluntary Chair of the Austin Business Group on Health which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping share best practices for worksite health promotion with Human Resources and Business leaders of small, medium and large employers in the Austin and surrounding area.

 In her current role, at Mercer, Tre’ is the Total Health Management market leader for a team of four practitioners. She consults with jumbo, large and midmarket size clients and is able to leverage both her experience and desire to drive for innovation. In addition to staying current in the field as a practitioner, Tre’ volunteers on several other non-profit health organizational Board of Directors; including the Health Project Board, which is responsible for awarding the C. Everett Koop Award annually.  In addition reading literature, working with innovative clients, and judging Koop Awards, Tre’ also loves working with students and teaches worksite health promotion classes at the University of Texas.  Her favorite pass time activities are spending time with her husband and two children; Jordan, seven years old, and Ryan, five years old. As a hobby, Tre’ enjoys staying active and fit, which she believes is critical to helping her keep a balance between work and life.  Her regular fitness routine includes running 3-4 days per week; lifting weights a couple of times per week and running or riding bikes with her kids. She also plays tennis for fun and enjoys most outdoor activities.

Tre’ believes the real differentiator in her career has been that she is always working hard and looking for “shared wins”. She rarely passes by an opportunity learn and become better at what she does, and how she works with others.  An educator by training, Tre’ looks for every opportunity to effectively reach people and help others enhance their personal health and well-being. In strategy work she typically begins and ends with the data; taking the time to review and understand key cultural aspects of the organization she is working with. She then partners with her clients to align action plans to overarching organizational goals.  She gets the greatest sense of accomplishment by helping others (clients and individuals) achieve their own organization, and personal goals.  She excels in linking health strategy to business and developing realistic roadmaps to ensure strategic initiatives deliver desired outcomes and results.


The one aspect of health promotion that Tre’ feels she does differently, is that she consistently focuses on how the health and well-being program can help the organization meet their business goals.  When a program is focused on health and healthcare costs, then that program may be at risk when budgets fluctuate. However, if the program is more central to the business, and seen as enabler to help drive positive business outcomes, then the health promotion initiative is seen more central to the business strategy.

Although this concept alone may not seem particularly innovative, it is in itself a key to fully integrating health into an organization, and Tre’ believes that one of the key success measures of a program is that if it is well supported in the organization, it still functions and thrives, even if they program manager moves on to a different role.  One of the biggest reasons why programs are not sustainable is that they are not integrated into the company culture.   Based on her experience, she believes it is not typically the program itself that a company implements, that drives long term health improvement for a population,  but  whether or not that program is well- integrated as a pervasive part of the company culture; included in company values, supported by leadership, and the work environment.


The most significant challenge that the industry faces in the next five years, is how effective health promotion practitioners will be at evolving and maintaining relevance with the evolution occurring in the healthcare system.  With the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the roll out of public and private exchanges, the role of employers in healthcare is changing. Health Promotion practitioners must also change.  Now health promotion leaders must know more than the basics of behavior change, they must also become fluent in use of technology, social networking, and crowd sourcing.  In addition to being able to implement effective programs, health promotion practitioners but also have a few into legal requirements so they can ensure the programs are also compliant.  Balancing all of these aspects of the changing environment we live in, will require best practice and knowledge sharing, as well as staying on top of current trends and policies.  How health promotion gets delivered in the healthcare system and who employs health promotion practitioners may be changing, however, the need for strong leaders in this field help impact the health of the US and global population will only grow in magnitude.  Collectively, we will all need to step up our game to address the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions which are driven by controllable lifestyle behaviors not only in the US, but globally.

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