Below is a letter from Wes Alles of Stanford University, a HERO member. The letter extends a kind offer to all HERO members for collaboration around our vision that all workplaces will positively influence the health and well-being of employees, families and communities.


Dear friends and colleagues of HERO,

Toward the end of the Think Tank meeting, I mentioned that I will communicate through HERO to all of you with information about what I do at Stanford and how I may be assistance to some of you in the future as you seek to establish new programs- or if you simply want to bounce around some ideas. This note is my follow-up. If it seems like a good idea to you, please be encouraged to send a similar note to HERO.

I have been in health education/promotion since 1974. Much has changed, in that when I began my career the word ‘hygiene’ was in fairly common use among departments that now may be called health education or health promotion. There was no word “Wellness” or “Wellbeing” until many years later when Don Ardell wrote a book entitled “High Level Wellness.” There was no certification acronym known as CHES. Worksites didn’t offer wellness programs and claims data were not important to health plans, HMOs, or employers.

Stanford began its “Health Improvement Program” in 1983, as a direct outcome of research being conducted by the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention Program. This was a community-based study to determine if heart disease and specific indicators such as heart attacks could be prevented by saturating a community with health education and health promotion media campaigns. The research demonstrated that community-wide campaigns were successful and also less expensive than traditional face-to-face campaigns. The research team put together a large amount of educational materials and created an “in-house” pre-cursor to That is, materials used in the campaign were made available to universities, health plans, community non-profits, and public health departments. Materials were distributed slightly above cost and the excess funds were used to transfer new materials developed by researchers into new products. Millions of products were disseminated.

Several years after the Stanford Five City Project, the university was approached by a large commercial company that had developed health education materials, hoping to sell them to employers. Stanford reasoned that if its campaign had been successful in communities, the same materials and activities could improve the health among faculty and staff who comprised the Stanford community. The program began with a single part-time employee and quickly grew to six. I began my work at Stanford in 1989. The basis of what I have to offer as my “citizenship” to HERO members comes from 26 years as Director of the Health Improvement Program.

I will be pleased to talk with you if you are a HERO member interested in any of the below health promotion activities. I want to be clear about this point- there is no cost to friends and colleagues who want to share a conversation. There is no intention in this note for Stanford or for me to benefit from our conversation(s). As a member of HERO, I choose to share with you what I have experienced in a long career. IF more of you are willing to make the same commitment, our shared knowledge will, like high tide, raise all boats. The sharing process also will bring HERO members closer together as friends.

Reach out to HERO to contact me:

  1. If you want to understand more about creating a non-profit university-based research dissemination center as a way of promoting the research from your university.
  2. If you want to discuss how to start and maintain a community-based health promotion network with membership coming from local companies, public health departments, hospitals and health plans, universities, and community-based non-profit organizations.
  3. If you want to process the idea of approaching community organizations about working collaboratively to make a difference locally- and perhaps to broaden the scope of work by approaching the national organization through the local chapter.
  4. If you are interested in discussing the importance of executive support for worksite-based health promotion. We can brainstorm ideas about how to gain this support for your program.
  5. If you are curious about what it means when someone says, “we have a culture of wellness.” How can you develop this construct and demonstrate that it is a reality in your organization?
  6. If you are developing a training program that will inform organizations how to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate a successful health promotion program. If you want to share thoughts about strategic planning.
  7. If you want to talk broadly about health care, health care benefits, and how wellness fits into the clinical and employee benefits side of health promotion.
  8. lf you are having a particular problem within your organization and want to get some broad perspective. You are welcome to call me and others who introduce themselves as being available to help you because they are HERO members.

Since 8 is a lucky number, I will stop here.

Best wishes in all of your wellness endeavors,



Wesley F. Alles, Ph.D.

Wes Alles has been a Senior Research Scientist within the School of Medicine at Stanford University for 23 years.  He is the Director of the Stanford Health Improvement Program and Director of the Stanford Health Promotion Resource Center.  His doctorate was received from the University of Illinois, with additional graduate work completed at Columbia University.  Wes was an Assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and a tenured Associate Professor at Penn State University.

Wes has received funding for research from the NIH, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the California Wellness Foundation, the YMCA of the USA, and through the YMCA, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the CDC, Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Central Pennsylvania, Health Net HMO, Qual-Med HMO, March of Dimes National Office and the American Cancer Society.  Wes has written four textbooks and has published in a wide variety of journals.

Wes served on the Board of Directors of a large community hospital for ten years, and was Chair of the Board for two years.  He also was the Chair of the governance committee, compliance committee, finance committee, and executive compensation committee.  He also served on the Board of Directors for El Camino Hospital’s Foundation.  Wes has served on many other Boards of Directors: a non-profit risk management company for California Health Care District Hospitals and non-profit Hospitals called Beta Healthcare, the (Thomas) Fogarty Clinical Research Institute, Master Care (an HMO in New Mexico), The New Mexico Health Care Coalition, the South Bay Business Group on Health, the Meyer Friedman Institute at UCSF, and the Bay Area Worksite Wellness Coalition.

For two years, Wes served as Chair of the California Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Coalition and for fifteen years he served as the Chair of the Advisory Board to the California Department of Public Health’s chronic disease block grant.   Wes was on the Board of Directors of local chapters for the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association, as well as a non-profit organization called Joint Venture Silicon Valley, where he served as Chair of the award winning Healthy Community: Healthy Economy initiative.


1 Comment

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  1. Ellen Leger 7 years ago

    This is 2017 Wes and I’m not sure how viable the connection is.

    I am Ellen Leger of northern Minnesota – we worked together with the March of Dimes for what seems years. A reconnect would be fun, informative, compelling, interesting, etc. etc.

    You’ll find an update of my writing works on

    Lets figure it out. Life is short, eat dessert first (I know I’ve read your work with the Heart Assc.)

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