Builders Series: Lisa Peacock Florida’s First Coast (Jacksonville)



I am a huge fan of George Babish, Senior VP of Organizational Advancement, at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast in Jacksonville, FL. The team of talent he has assembled to advance the healthy living portfolio is outstanding and a lot of fun to work with.  One of which is Lisa Peacock, Director of Healthy Living Innovations:  Chronic Disease Prevention.  A little talk with her about building healthy communities:

Me: Lisa, what is your current role?

Lisa: I focus on chronic disease prevention for the entire First Coast YMCA Association.  We serve 5 counties and 100,000 people through 13 locations.  I work with our signature programs.  I review recommendations coming from YUSA and make suggestions to our organization about which strategies we should implement and when.  I go out to our communities, listen and bring back to our leadership suggestions about how to best serve the needs of the people in those communities. I work with hospital and health care systems and partners in our Healthy Living Centers.

One of my projects includes the Healthy Living Centers at the Williams and Ponte Vedra Ys. The Healthy Living Centers are the first of their kind on the First Coast, bringing medically integrated programs from Baptist Health into the Y – and making these programs more accessible to the surrounding community. More Y Healthy Living Centers are planned in the near future. The flagship Healthy Living Center will be located at the new Riverside Y along with Brooks Rehabilitation and Florida Blue. Our vision: Healthy Living Centers are a community based initiative designed to increase personal engagement and accountability for health, making it easier for people to achieve and sustain a healthier lifestyle.

Part of my responsibility is also to advance our association strategy of developing the Y as a Total Wellness Resource. This includes the delivery of our Y signature programs such as the YMCAs Diabetes Prevention Program and Enhance®Fitness, as well as our adaptive wellness programs, in partnership with Brooks Rehabilitation Health Systems. These adaptive wellness programs are designed to help those with mobility impairments through supervised physical activity.  Through these programs, participants learn how to stay active and improve their health after they complete formal physical therapy.

Where we are going as an organization is exciting.  I’m really involved in changing the way the community works with and perceives the Y.  We are a vital part of the health of our community and the overall healthcare system.

Me:  What’s your biggest challenge?

Lisa:  Time. There are many potential programs to focus on and we lack the time to address them all. It takes a huge amount of time to do diligent research to ensure we develop programs that meet community need and, in the end, transforming the overall health of those participating in our programs. Everyone can think of a great idea/program—that’s the fun part.  But you have to take that idea through focus groups, beta testing, fine-tuning and adjusting in order to do it right.

Me:  Following up with that idea—how’d you keep your job?  You needed a lot of time to show the value of the work you’re doing to the Y organization…

Lisa:  I have a strong faith and pray frequently. Not in the sense of keeping my job, but in the sense of being able to provide what both the association and our communities need. As for keeping programs running, we are blessed to receive grant funding, at times, as we did to launch the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. This grant allowed one of our team members to focus on one program and really put the attention into the details of making the program succeed.  As a health educator, I highly value the concept of disease prevention & lifestyle behavior change. This allows me to speak from the heart about the great work we do. I can get behind an evidence-based program that is proven to work. During the time I was the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator, I felt that my organization really trusted my judgment and I was able to develop professionally as the subject matter expert.

We received the grant and began this work in 2010 and it was three years until we flipped the business model and began receiving reimbursement for the program from Florida Blue in 2013. They are now a third party reimbursement payer.  Without them, we would have a really nice feel good, proven program, but not a strong sustainable business model. Currently, all Florida Blue insured individuals have coverage for and access to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Florida Blue is also headquartered in Jacksonville, so this provides the opportunity to grow our partnership and improve the health of our community together as true local partners.

Me:  If you had more time (or budget) what would that buy you?

Lisa:  The additional time would buy me more organization and clarity. To have designated time to think, brainstorm with others, and research. To really navigate through and develop business plans. I have an amazing opportunity to work with some really great minds who challenge me. As a health educator, I don’t immediately think about the business model or financials. I would value more time to dive deep into this information and develop it further and to continue exploring how our organization can truly partner on holistic health outcomes.

Me:  Who do you admire inside or outside your industry?

Lisa: I enjoy listening to Heather Hodge Director, Chronic Disease Prevention Programs at YMCA of the USA.  It’s inspiring to hear what our national office is doing at a very high level with partnerships to advance our work.

There is an organization in our community, the New Town Successzone.  They are in a high-risk health zone. Their focus is revitalizing the community. What I value most, is who sits at the table – so many different organizations, of different backgrounds and races, all with the same focus, to better the community. It is very inspiring… I always leave the meeting uplifted.

Why I still coach


Focusing like a laser and getting to your most important work requires a constant re-balancing of priorities and reassessment of skills, opportunities, and strategies.  It’s a continual effort to put your best work forward and peel back the effort in those areas that no longer serve you.  It’s taking risks, evaluating opportunities not just for today, but for the future.  It’s the privilege of getting to be selective and the sense that time is running short to be what you’re made to be.  It’s the recognition that the number of things you want to do and should do add up to more time and certainly more energy than actually exists.  It’s the light bulb that finally goes off that real contribution doesn’t come from cramming ever more into a week/day/year, but rather in being ruthless in deciding what gets your focus and attention.

Which brings me to this topic—why do I still coach gymnastics?  Why do I still allow the time and energy necessary at this time in my career to do something that supposedly I was qualified to do when I was 15 years old (I’m sure video footage of that teaching would surely prove otherwise).   Why do I put on the staff shirt and yoga pants and hang out alongside college kids and teach the same handful of skills I’ve been teaching for 25 years?  I am struggling with this—if I’m taking things off my plate, why does this remain?  Why do I want to add more of it?  Why am I writing this now rather than doing other work—who knows?  Here’s what I do know:

I coach because it’s the most complicated, intense work I’ve ever done.  It takes more thought, preparation, and expertise in multiple disciplines than any other work I do –and I work with some heavy hitting projects and people.  The stakes are high—these are young children, older children, and teenagers – what you say and do can stay with them for a lifetime and shape who they become as adults, parents, and leaders.

I coach because I’ve seen it done so poorly by others it makes me cry and seen it done so brilliantly it also makes me cry.  Because I’ve seen coaches like John Good build some of the best men I’ve ever known.

I coach because it’s a facet of my work where I simultaneously feel mastery and endless challenge.

I coach because it taught me how to parent and vice versa.  I’ve had parent/coach mentors like Lynne Horn say “parents are pretty easy, if we give you our kid for four hours, just come off the floor and tell us something about their practice”.  Simple, brilliant, endlessly helpful.  Or when trying to understand why a parent is so unbelievably appreciative of your efforts and generous with you like Nancy & Kevin Moody who told me “anyone who does right by your child and helps you get through the teenage years is someone you’ll do anything for”.  I didn’t get it then, now I do, because it’s any port in the storm time for us and we’re looking to constantly build our team.  Thank goodness and I see you Coach David, Coach Jay, Coach Tyler, Coach Chris, Coach Jones, Cody, Coach Block and so many more – we can’t do it without you.

I coach because I’ve had the privilege of studying at institutions like the University of North Texas, the George Washington University, and Michigan State University (2x grad school dropout), and I’ve never learned as much as when I was trying to figure out the right mix of psychology, physics, and communication techniques that were going to get an athlete over a skill development hump or a terrifying mental block.

I coach because in a deal with my husband I necessarily gave it up for 5 years as my “career” took off and I had to prioritize my time expenditures.  I did the next best thing and coached the best I could those professionals who were a couple rungs below me on the corporate ladder but way ahead of me in passion, skills, and aptitude.  I hope I taught them something that mattered – they certainly did teach me.

I coach because many of the north stars in my life yell at me when I’m not teaching enough, like Lesley Kovacs who just recently said my time spent in administration is a “soul—crushing waste of my life, and I better get back to teaching before I rot” (which I may be paraphrasing a bit, but I got her message).

I’ve had the honor of coaching/judging/choreographing at really high levels in the sport.  I’ve been a snob not wanting to waste what I thought then was my vast coaching talent on non-serious athletes.  I’ve since learned that I love working with anyone who has a body and would like to understand how to make it work in a multi-planar fashion.  Increasing someone’s movement vocabulary (one of my favorite phrases) is just about the coolest thing ever.

I coach athletes with cognitive impairment because helping someone figure out how to find the vertical axis on a forward roll and support a sometimes uncooperative body with two arms just might translate into the confidence needed to navigate an unforgiving world.

Most importantly I coach because it’s the only place I’ve never received feedback that I should “work on sitting still & talking in a lower voice” — some variation of which I’ve received on every report card and performance review  my entire life, whether in preschool or as a VP.

I coach because it’s how I learn.

Builders Series: Debbie Metzger, YMCA of Central Florida

Debbie Metzger

Debbie Metzger

The Builders Series celebrates leaders hard at work building healthy communities.  Meet Debbie Metzger a 25+ year veteran in the Y Movement and District Executive Director in the YMCA of Central Florida.

I first met Debbie in 2009 when she was part of the team that recruited me to the YMCA of Broward County.  We met on a beautiful day in the Health Foundation of South Florida offices in Downtown Miami overlooking the Biscayne Bay.  It was an easy place to say “Yes!”.  Debbie was a one-woman Welcome Wagon to my family as we made the jump to South Florida and I’m forever grateful for her support.  She and I spent 5 years together working on several major projects which expanded the reach and scope of our organization.  It was great to reconnect last week in Orlando where her career in the Y first began.


What does your work at the YMCA of Central Florida entail?

Debbie:  We’re building a stronger and healthier community through connecting like-minded people and groups.  I oversee the Downtown YMCA which serves a large professional population and our South Orlando YMCA which serves a completely different demographic of families and youth.  Our South Orlando YMCA is located next to a High School where students come from some very challenging neighborhoods.  We’re working to align partners and the resources of both of these YMCAs to provide afterschool tutoring, life skills and other supports to the teens in this school.  My job is to figure out how to identify the critical community needs that the YMCA can influence and then look to find the resources to address that need.

Debbie and her Y team

Debbie and her Y team

Besides money, what is your biggest challenge?

Debbie:  Determining what to spend my time on and where to direct my staff’s attention.  There are so many ways we can strengthen communities and impact an individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual health.  Where are we going to find the greatest return for our community?  Because I’m new to this position, my first focus is hiring great staff and developing their capacity.  My first hire was a great Youth Development Director at our Downtown Y facility.  Developing her skills and those of all my other staff is critical.  Even simply setting up a basic staff area where they can spend their time can change the way a staff feels at work.  I’m focusing first on building a great team so we can keep building a strong community.

What do you need more of?

Debbie:  It sounds silly, but of course I need more time.  The needs are so great and our opportunity to really help is so big, that focusing on where we can be most effective is difficult.  I need my staff to be great connectors.  I know we can find every resource we need if we make the right relationships with partners in the community and work together.  I also need more time to support my team.

Who’s work inside or outside of your industry or area of focus do you admire?

Debbie:     We’re in Orlando, so you can’t help but be influenced by the great work of Disney, the world’s number one brand.  Their training, onboarding, and staff development is the best and I admire how they train every member of their organization to represent the brand.

Another business I really admire is Marlow’s Tavern, which is a chain restaurant out of Atlanta.  I’ve probably been there 25 times since I’ve been back to Orlando.  They are delivering a great product with amazing service.  Every time I’ve been in a manager stops by my table to talk and their customer relations are amazing.  When I go there I think, “This is the level service I want my staff to deliver”.



#MiYMCA State Alliance of Michigan YMCAs Healthy Living March Newsletter


The March Healthy Living newsletter is out.  Please share with staff, participants, volunteers, and partners as we work together to build a healthier Michigan!

Check out some of the great work happening in Michigan YMCAs to build healthy communities through evidence based programs and partnership.

Please send me your content submissions for an upcoming edition.  I’d love to feature programs at your Y & innovative partnerships within the community.  I also invite you to be a guest columnist.  Tell your story!


#MiYMCA Benton Habor-St. Joseph & Niles-Buchanan YMCAs Build Capacity


Two Southwest Michigan YMCAs are preparing to launch Enhance®Fitness, an evidence based exercise program for older adults with arthritis.   Thirteen instructors were trained and program launches will begin soon.

YMCA leaders will work with healthcare providers throughout the area to refer older adults into this life-changing program which builds cardiovascular health, muscular strength, balance, agility, and flexibility, while reducing arthritis pain & risk for falls.

Of course, the best part of the program are the friendships that are made and the fun that everyone has improving their health together.  Congratulations to these instructors & to the YMCA leaders who are embarking on this important work.

Congratulations Enhance®Fitness Instructors!

Congratulations Enhance®Fitness Instructors!

Jan strikes a pose

Jan strikes a pose

Dawn (L) & Teresa review Fitness Checks

Dawn (L) & Teresa review Fitness Checks

Instructors review upper back strengthening

Instructors review upper back strengthening

Creating fun for those with balance challenges

Creating fun for those with balance challenges

Michelle (L) and Diane Smiles & Fitness Checks

Michelle (L) and Diane Smiles & Fitness Checks

Benton Harbor/St. Joe YMCA Leaders Monica & Stephen

Benton Harbor/St. Joe YMCA Leaders Monica & Stephen

Michigan Diabetes Prevention Network Fall Meeting


Move It Media is excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Community Health to strengthen Michigan Diabetes Prevention Network’s relationship with providers of the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program and EnhanceFitness.

The Michigan Diabetes Prevention Network fall meeting today laid out exciting partnership opportunities between the YMCAs, MDCH, NACDD, CDC, AMA, Kidney Foundation of Michigan, MSU Extension, University of Michigan, and many other community based organizations and healthcare providers to expand the Diabetes Prevention efforts across Michigan.

Dr. Christopher Bailey of the American Medical Association shared with us the AMA’s strategic plan to address cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which together cost our nation more than $5 Billion annually along with the devastating health toll they take on individuals and families.  We must get very serious and strategic about scaling the proven Diabetes Prevention Program because the scope of the problem facing us as a nation is gigantic as illustrated in this dramatic slide.Diabetes Iceberg Slide

We simply can’t afford this impending public health disaster and must work collaboratively with all partners to address this population health problem.  I look forward to working together as a state to scale the proven programs which can delay or reverse the onset of Diabetes.

I’d love to talk to you about efforts in your community to provide evidence based programs to prevent or manage chronic disease.

Muskegon, MI on the Road to Wellville


I had the opportunity to meet with leaders from the Muskegon County Health Dept., the YMCA of Muskegon, and Mercy Health to discuss the ongoing efforts to build a healthy community.  I learned about the 1 in 21 project to move the county to the top of the state health rankings by 2021 and the infusion of new energy by being awarded the Way to Wellville Challenge  I love hearing about business leaders who believe a healthy community is vital to academic success and economic development.

This is an exciting opportunity to build a healthier community and I’m looking forward to being a part of the process!!

I also met with YMCA CEO Bruce Spoelman & toured the YMCA of Muskegon and the beautiful lakefront property it occupies.  Plans are underway to create even more programming and member opportunities to use the lakefront and be part of the resurgence of this downtown location.  Great stuff happening!!

Beautiful inlet surrounding the Y with walking trails and benches.

Beautiful inlet surrounding the Y with walking trails and benches.

View of the lake from inside the wellness facility.  Great deck for post-workout sun & stretch!  I'd love to teach a yoga class there!!

View of the lake from inside the wellness facility. Great deck for post-workout sun & stretch! I’d love to teach a yoga class there!!

Sailboats still moored late  in the season--hope they can sneak in a few more outings to enjoy the fall color by water!

Sailboats still moored late in the season–hope they can sneak in a few more outings to enjoy the fall color by water!

Building a Culture of Health in Mid-Michigan

Signage at the Foster Community Center

Signage at the Foster Community Center

Healthy Community Asset Wayfinding on the Eastside

Healthy Community Asset Wayfinding on the Eastside

I’m excited to be back home in Lansing, MI working to create a culture of health in my home community.  I left Lansing 5 years ago to pursue an amazing professional opportunity with the YMCA of Broward County in South Florida.  I learned a great deal about building healthy communities at the local, state, and national level.  I’m excited to return home and be part of the exciting work that is happening in Lansing to build healthy systems for food, transportation, and housing that support healthy communities and economic development (which go hand-in-hand).

Above are some great examples of how leaders are communicating the health message.  These are just a few of many as the region continues its revitalization efforts.  I post many I find on Twitter @andicrawford.  Please add to the conversation using #healthycommunities or #cultureofhealth.  I’d love to connect with you.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation leads the national conversation and foundation investment in building healthy communities.  Great information about building a Culture of Health is available at the link, below is an excerpt.

What Does Culture Of Health Mean To You?

It may mean having easy and affordable access to health care. It may mean creating neighborhoods where moms can feel comfortable letting their kids walk to school, play outside, and go to a nearby grocery store stocked with fresh and healthy choices. It may mean providing an elder with the helping hands she needs to remain in her home. Or it may mean living in a community where policy-makers, civic leaders, educators, employers, and residents work together to make the health of their entire community a priority.There is no single definition, which means when America ultimately achieves a Culture of Health it will be as multifaceted as the population it serves.

We believe an American Culture of Health is one in which:

  1. Good health flourishes across geographic, demographic and social sectors.
  2. Being healthy and staying healthy is valued by our entire society.
  3. Individuals and families have the means and the opportunity to make choices that lead to healthy lifestyles.
  4. Business, government, individuals, and organizations work together to foster healthy communities and lifestyles.
  5. Everyone has access to affordable, quality health care.
  6. No one is excluded.
  7. Health care is efficient and equitable.
  8. The economy is less burdened by excessive and unwarranted health care spending.
  9. The health of the population guides public and private decision-making.
  10. Americans understand that we are all in this together.