Fourth in a series on this year’s 20 Under 40 winners.
WATERLOO — The printed emails and handwritten thank-you notes in Liz DeJoode’s desk drawer are what drive her.
There’s one from a grandmother who couldn’t walk up a flight up stairs but ran a 5K race with her grandchild after working with DeJoode. There’s another note from a woman who, through DeJoode’s counsel, quit smoking and used the money she would have spent on cigarettes to visit family in Italy.
“When you feel good about yourself, and that’s a huge component of health, that’s when you’re able to pay it forward,” DeJoode said. “When I’m feeling good about myself then I’m more likely to be more invested in my employer, be more invested in my family, be more invested as a friend.”
DeJoode, 37, is a health innovation consultant for PDCM Insurance in Waterloo. Her role is to research and implement cost containment employee benefit solutions for clients, says PDCM. Part of that is developing wellness programming for local businesses to help keep insurance costs low. The on-site programs include smoking cessation, weight loss and stress management components.
One of the businesses using that programming is Advanced Heat Treat Corp. Through PDCM, DeJoode has worked with AHT for six years.
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“She leads the charge for establishing one-on-one coaching sessions as part of our wellness program,” said AHT Human Resource Manager Gayla Hoppenworth, who nominated DeJoode for the 20 Under 40 award.
“We currently have 50 employees participating with Liz and her team that are coached in monthly sessions for four months each summer. She does this same thing for numerous companies throughout the Cedar Valley. Can you imagine how many individuals throughout the Cedar Valley that she has impacted? ... She doesn’t just guide participants on the health science reasons on wellness, but focuses on the person.”
DeJoode’s reach stretches well beyond the Cedar Valley. John Monaghan, who also nominated her for the 20 Under 40 honor, said she is a nationally recognized expert on employee wellness programming.
“Periodically, the Cedar Valley produces an individual that has an impact on an entire industry. Liz is one of those individuals,” he said.
DeJoode earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from the University of Northern Iowa. She has served as community health educator and tobacco prevention coordinator for Pathways Behavioral Services and business development coordinator with UnityPoint Health-Allen Occupational Health. She joined PDCM Insurance in 2013 as a wellness consultant.
DeJoode was active on the Cedar Valley Blue Zones projects and serves on the fundraising committee for Exceptional Persons Inc. She also spent three years as president of the Cedar Valley Society of Human Resource Managers.
“If you know Liz, you know she touches someone positively every single day,” Monaghan said. “You will never meet a person that is more encouraging and empathetic than Liz.”
“When you feel good about yourself, and that’s a huge component of health, that’s when you’re able to pay it forward.”
"When you feel good about yourself, and that's a huge component of health, that's when you're able to pay it forward."