Kristin Chenevert, M.S. '05
Kristin (Lefebvre) Chenevert received her M.S. in Nutrition from UMass Amherst in 2005. She works for Plus One Health Management, Inc., as an on-site Wellness Specialist for Ocean Spray Cranberries’ corporate office in Lakeville, MA, where she designed and runs Ocean Spray’s Fit for Life Wellness Program.
Could you describe your professional career after leaving UMass Amherst, and how the Department of Nutrition helped you prepare for that career?
Upon graduation, I actually spent one year working for UMass Extension as a Nutrition Educator with kids grades K-8. I had an established relationship with the “Extension” team as I had worked with them for my graduate assistantship. Although this was a great experience, I knew I wanted to work with adults and wanted to explore Corporate Wellness. I began as a Program Manager for a large company managing fitness centers/wellness programs for employees, in CT. Two years later, my husband and I moved to RI, where I had an opportunity to shift full focus to Wellness Program management with Ocean Spray, through Plus One Health. My education experience from UMass has been crucial, as my role entails a good amount of one-on-one counseling and programming/education around lifestyle impact on chronic disease risk. I work directly with the Benefits Department on healthcare claims review and health risk analysis, which leads to program design.
You developed and run the “Fit for Life” Wellness Program for Ocean Spray employees. What is the basic philosophy behind the program? What are some of the program goals? How do you help your employees to achieve those goals?
The Fit for Life Wellness program debuted in November 2008 and I was fortunate to be part of the startup. The initial objective was to create a culture of wellness at the corporate office, as well as a remote presence in the eight manufacturing locations. Fit for Life works with Benefits to offer exceptional resources and education around physical, emotional, financial, and work/life wellness. We create an annual wellness calendar with programming specific to each wellness area. The wellness program offers lunch-and-learn seminars, multi-week health challenges (weight management and fitness based), one-on-one wellness consultations (nutrition, fitness, financial, and work/life balance), on-site massage therapy, on-site acupuncture, partnership with our on-site cafeteria, on-site fitness classes (which I also teach), a 10-week nutrition course (SMART Weigh), as well as a monthly newsletter. We have a constant focus on reaching our non-health enthusiasts and have recently worked on different marketing approaches of our wellness programs.
My favorite part of my job is the everyday interaction with employees. I have developed positive and trusting relationships with many employees (both on-site and remote) and feel that it is that relationship and trust that allows me to help them with their goals. I strive to bring gold-standard nutrition/lifestyle education to each employee with whom I meet and help them develop the healthy path that is right for them.
You also run S.M.A.R.T. Weigh, a Plus One group nutrition program. Tell me a little bit about that program. How does that program differ from Fit for Life?
The S.M.A.R.T Weigh program is one of Plus One’s nutrition programs that Fit for Life offers to all employees. It is a 10-week nutrition/behavior modification course designed for employees looking to lose weight. The program consists of pre- and post-body composition measurements, ten weekly group meetings, weekly weigh-ins, and weekly one-on-one consultations. I have run three of the programs and have had great success in each of them.
You serve on the Next Generation Committee at New England Employee Benefits Council and recently appeared on a panel at the New England Human Resource Association Conference to discuss wellness “best practices.” What do you envision as the “best practices” for health and wellness? What can we do – as individuals, or as corporations and companies – to help achieve some of those practices?
“Best practice” for benefits/wellness largely depends on each company’s goals and objectives. An underlying theme for all “best practice” programs I’ve seen revolves around a program that challenges employees to become partners in their health and take responsibility for preventive care, from lifestyle choices to making regular doctor appointments. Best practice health and wellness programs offer a variety of programs for all parts of the population – not just focusing on those at high risk. In the beliefs of Dee Edington, most successful wellness programs I have seen offer a multi-tiered focus for programs: Keeping the healthy “healthy,” minimizing “at risk” progression, and effectively managing chronic diseases.
What are your fondest memories of being a student at UMass Amherst?
Other than the great cafeteria and beautiful campus…? I do miss the “family” feel of the department and the great friends I had there. Amherst and Northampton remain two of my favorite places to visit.
Do you have any advice for students today who are interested in pursuing a degree in Nutrition?
Given the country-wide focus on preventive health, I think all wellness professionals are in a great position for many career opportunities. From private practice to corporate wellness, and even research and development, there are many areas where having a Nutrition degree is sought after. As for advice, research the careers you are interested in, connect with as many individuals in those fields as you can, and take your classes strategically.
Is there anything else you’d like your fellow alums to know about your life since you left UMass Amherst?
I am enjoying life with my husband and two-year-old son (who, by the way, can correctly pronounce quinoa!).