UAB took home the silver in April’s Birmingham Corporate Challenge (BCC) at Railroad Park, and according to participating employees, that win — UAB’s first in the competition’s four-year run — is due in large part to the efforts of Anna Threadcraft, director of Employee Wellness, who helps recruit, communicate with and organize the 400-plus-person team.
“Anna not only wanted to get people involved — she really wanted to win,” said Whitney Woodard, academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences and a BCC participant. “She garnered such enthusiasm from employees, and she wanted to show Birmingham just how wonderful a place UAB is to work. I left that the park that Saturday so proud to have UAB written across my chest.”
The dedication and drive Threadcraft showed during the 2019 competition inspired participants across UAB — many outside of her home department of Human Resources — to nominate the wellness advocate for the Employee of the Month honor, and she was selected for July. They agree that the BCC win and the positive attitude toward wellness at UAB wouldn’t be possible without Threadcraft’s hard work.
“Anna has been our cheerleader, counselor, educator and friend.”
“She encouraged us to make new friends and find the competitive spirit that lies within all of us,” said Terri Franklin, radiology supervisor at UAB Highlands Hospital and a cornhole team captain at the Corporate Challenge. “She has been our cheerleader, counselor, educator and friend.”
Threadcraft, who has served in her role for three years, says she works hard to achieve her vision for UAB: a workplace that encourages a good quality of life that others want to model. Her role, she continues, is to inspire employees to create healthy perspectives.
“When UAB moves, people take notice,” she said. “I would love for our UAB family to be known as a workplace that supports a sustainable quality of life that others want to model. If my role can inspire employees to do what they do with excellence both personally and professionally, then UAB is set up to undoubtedly make a lasting impact on our city, state and nation.”
“If my role can inspire employees to do what they do with excellence — both personally and professionally — then UAB is set up to undoubtedly make a lasting impact on our city, state and nation.”
Employee Wellness is charged with promoting active living and healthy eating across UAB; its My Health Rewards program and annual Wellscreens incentivize employees to prioritize their physical and mental health. The department is small — Threadcraft and Riley Thornton, wellness specialist — so Threadcraft stays busy year-round. She’s discovered that making weekly lists helps her stay on top of tasks when managing big health initiatives such as the Grand Challenge. She says she’s also learned to “protect her downtime,” whether that’s stepping away from her desk for a five-minute break or taking a technology hiatus for a few hours on a weekend.
“Someone told me once that UAB stands for ‘U Are Busy,’ and they’re not wrong,” Threadcraft said. “I’ve realized I can’t control how many hours are in a day, but I can control how I manage them. When I’m just as intentional to step back and protect my time away from work, I can usually do my job even better when I return, despite how difficult it is to set that boundary. I’ve been convicted by the thought of how much I check my cell phone battery and yet overlook the level of my own personal wellness battery.”
When Holly Henning, academic adviser and instructor in CAS, decided in the New Year that she would refocus on her personal health and wellness, she signed up for her first 5K run during this year’s BCC. She says that despite the difficulties associated with organizing participation in an event that size, Threadcraft regularly encouraged them to practice for their individual events and provided communication and updates to all Team UAB members.
“UAB’s reputation is deeply rooted in the health and well-being of all in the state, region and nation, and Anna is the living embodiment of what it means to be part of the UAB family to help accomplish that shared goal.”
“UAB’s reputation is deeply rooted in the health and well-being of all in the state, region and nation, and Anna is the living embodiment of what it means to be part of the UAB family to help accomplish that shared goal,” Henning said.
Threadcraft says she has never felt more proud to work at UAB than when she watched Team UAB compete during the BCC.
“We took people by surprise with our Win as One mentality,” Threadcraft said. “It took an all-in commitment to place, but the real victory came from hearing countless stories of employees building stronger relationships with co-workers, having an incredible time and getting healthier in the process.”