Get to Know the New Health Initiatives Senior Director - Stacy Connell

Please explain your background (briefly) and why you are excited about this position?

I am fortunate that my passion and career are one and the same and has always been rooted in what I love – wellness, fitness, recreation and people.  I have over ten years of progressive experience in higher education working in collegiate recreation and wellness teaching university communities how to be healthy and active and the impact their health has on their overall well-being and student success.

In my most recent role at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., I had the opportunity to create and lead university wide wellness efforts to build a thriving academic community in addition to leading University Recreation healthy living programs which included intramural and club sports, outdoor adventures, fitness and wellness. I also worked at the University of Georgia and Texas Christian University as Assistant Director of Fitness & Wellness. 

I serve, present and support several professional associations including the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), the Partnership for a Healthier America, Building Healthy Academic Communities (BHAC) and the American College Health Association (ACHA) Faculty and Staff Health and Wellness Coalition. 

I am excited to being the first Senior Director for Health Initiatives at Georgia Tech because it gives me the opportunity to define this new role for the Institute and to be a part of the existing health and well-being movement. 

How do you envision Health Initiatives evolving in the future under your new leadership?

I envision Health Initiatives focusing energies and efforts on prevention, proactive care and predictive care in order for us to infuse health and well-being within the Georgia Tech culture. My hope Is that by focusing upstream in our efforts and emphasizing strengths and life skills, such as resiliency, goal-setting, kindness, mindfulness, grit, connectivity, that we can support students before they have a significant diagnosis for chronic or mental illness. My goal is that when Georgia Tech students graduate that they will know that not only did they earn a degree from this prestigious institute but that they will know with certainty that Georgia Tech cares about their health and well-being.

What originally interested you in pursuing this position?

I was interested in this position for the opportunity to expand my professional portfolio and work more deeply in public health while learning from the infamous Dr. Suzy Harrington.

What does working in public health mean to you?

For me, public health is promoting all elements of well-being - emotional, professional, social, physical and spiritual - where we live, learn, work and play. My goal is to build communities that foster healthy decision-making so that the healthy choice can be the easy choice for everyone.

What stress less (#stresslessGT) habits do you incorporate into your professional and personal life that you would encourage GT students to utilize?

  1.  Be physically active. There are countless acute and chronic effects of exercise on mood, depression, anxiety, attention span, information retention, cognition and much more. Many of these are reasons why GT students are stressed.  Exercise is the best medicine when you’re stressed and it helps you out in the classroom.
  2. Disconnect and reset. Sometimes it may just be moving away from my computer and phone for just five minutes to breathe and pray. Other days it may be taking or teaching a yoga class.
  3. Get outside. For some people, this is camping in the woods for a week. For others like me, this is a peaceful after dinner walk around the neighborhood or park.  Research shows that spending time in outdoors actually buffers against depression and anxiety. 

What are you most excited about in your move to Atlanta and Georgia Tech?

The move back to Georgia has been such a happy homecoming for my family and me.  I spent 8 great years in Athens and am thrilled for the opportunity to be back in the Peach State and closer to extended family. 

I am excited to be at Georgia Tech because I love how health and well-being is an institutional priority that is supported by President Bud Peterson, Vice President Paul Strouts and many other senior leaders.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

Step out of your comfort zone – go sky-diving, travel abroad or move somewhere new. I’m fortunate to have had these and many other great experiences that have stretched me.

Who inspires you?

Ellen DeGeneres and Joanna Gaines.

What are you most passionate about outside of your profession?

Without a doubt - my family. I am married to the most supportive man, Josh, and have three amazing children, Mason, age 5, Logan, age 2 and Piper, 9 months. They light up my life and keep me active.

What words of wisdom do you try to live by?

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  • Stacy Connell

    Stacy Connell