About us

Mission Statement

AdvancingWellness was established in 2006 with the goal of positively impacting the lives of individuals and the companies in which they work. Our mission is to partner with organizations to help them develop the strategies to create a culture of well-being in the workplace, that impact people’s lives, and create sustainable business results.

Our Values:

  • Respect for each individual
  • Open communication
  • Collaboration
  • Passion for excellence
  • Personal integrity
  • Responsibility to community

Our Team

Mari Ryan, MBA, MHP, CWP
Chief Executive Officer/Founder
Author, Speaker

As CEO and founder of Advancing Wellness, Mari Ryan is a workplace well-being strategist guiding organizations to create people-centric workplaces. During her career, she has worked with businesses of all sizes from start-ups to global powerhouses such as Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and Northrup Grumman. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise.

Mari holds a Bachelor Degree from Lesley University, an MBA from Boston University, and a Masters in Health Promotion from Nebraska Methodist College. She is a certified Worksite Wellness Program Consultant and is a certified facilitator in a number of evidence-based behavior change programs.

Mari is the author of The Thriving Hive: How People-Centric Workplaces Ignite Engagement and Fuel Results. Available on Amazon.

Mari is a member of the Board of Directors of Health Promotion Advocates, a group of committed health promotion professionals who are working to integrate health promotion concepts into national health policy. Mari is the co-founder and former chair of the Board of Directors of the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts.

Mari’s love for walking has brought her to lead a community-based walking program in Watertown, Massachusetts , called Watertown Walks! Mari also served as a member of the Bicycle/Pedestrian committee for the Town of Watertown and initiated a Safe Routes to School program to encourage children to walk or bike to school.  In 2006, Mari accomplished a personal goal of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and in 2016 she walked a 100 mile section of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Lisa Erck, MS
Senior Consultant

Lisa is a subject matter expert executing a variety of projects in the health and wellness field. Her work is aimed at helping businesses create work environments that encourage employees to be healthy while at work. She has spearheaded a statewide worksite wellness initiative, Working on Wellness, with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as part of Mass in Motion, a statewide obesity prevention initiative. In addition, Lisa facilitated a participatory health improvement initiative linking health promotion with workplace health and safety with the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace. Other projects include providing input into the requirements and eligibility for the Massachusetts Small Business Wellness Tax Credit and working in the Prevention and Wellness Division at Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA. She has a professional background spanning health promotion, public health, sales, project management, marketing strategy and business development. Lisa has presented as a subject matter expert for events such as the CDC National Healthy Worksite Program and the State Of Wellness Webinar Series. Lisa has also co-authored several articles for peer-reviewed publications such as American Journal of Health Promotion and American Journal of Health Education. Lisa holds a Master of Science degree with a concentration in health, exercise, and sport science and earned a Bachelor degree from Hamilton College.

Leslee McGovern MS, RD, LDN, CWPD
Wellness Program Coordinator

Leslee is a passionate nutrition, health and wellness professional. In her role as Wellness Program Coordinator, she puts her passion to work planning, organizing, implementing and evaluating worksite wellness programs for AdvancingWellness.

Leslee has 10+ years experience designing and implementing corporate nutrition and wellbeing programs for Fortune 500 companies. A registered and licensed dietitian, she has special expertise in developing health-promoting environments that encourage nutritious food choices at work, home and beyond. In her role as a Nutrition, Health and Wellness Consultant, Leslee advised organizations on the strategic integration of corporate wellness and onsite foodservice initiatives to support healthy food behaviors at work.

As Senior Director of Wellness Brand Management at Sodexo, she led the development of a division-wide wellbeing strategy for corporate services that included a food, nutrition and wellness product portfolio with training programs, marketing plans, promotional kits and evaluation tools. While serving on the board of the Institute on Innovation in Workforce Wellbeing within the National Business Group on Health, Leslee spearheaded the Healthy Dining at Work Toolkit, providing a best practice solution for large employers.

Leslee has a Bachelor of Science from Framingham State University in Food and Nutrition, a Master of Science from Boston University in Nutrition and Communications, and is a Certified Wellness Program Director through the Chapman Institute. She is a faculty member of the Wellness Council of America and she serves on the Wellness Council of Massachusetts Annual Conference Committee. Leslee is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition Practice Group.

To keep well, Leslee devotes time to strength training, hiking, walking, gardening and yoga. She is an avid bird watcher and enjoys training her whippet Riva in agility, lure coursing and canine scent work

Laura began her career as a professional actress. After enjoying great success on the stage she pursued formal education in the field of wellness, uncovering a deep passion for coaching, personal training, and holistic health. She developed and taught classes for the Orlando Weight Management and Nutrition Center in Orlando, FL, focusing on behavioral change group coaching and nutrition education. She also dovetailed her own passion for fitness into practical application for other athletes, becoming a marathon coach for Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the largest endurance sports training program in the world.

After a move to Massachusetts, she worked as personal trainer for Get In Shape For Women before joining AdvancingWellness as a Wellness Program Manager and Health Coach. After three years of working with our clients, Laura transitioned into the role of Wellness Program Specialist, offering support and expertise to our clients. Laura also owns and operates Vivacious Life, a business offering well-being retreats and workshops for high-powered women.

Laura maintains her own fitness through an avid connection to the November Project, and by continuing to run races across the US. To date, Laura has raised thousands of dollars for charity as a marathon runner, cross-country relay runner, and Ironman triathlete.

Laura Polas
Senior Consultant

Laura Polas is a veteran communications and marketing consultant and works with clients in the health care, worksite wellness, digital health, and professional services industries. Through her consulting and project leadership, Laura leads the design and implementation of successful outreach, education, events, and communications programs whose success requires the collaboration and management of diverse creative and technical teams. She loves to help her clients develop a vision and make that vision come to life while measuring success along the way.

 She currently serves as the Marketing and Communications Chair of the Board of Directors for the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts. She has also held leadership roles as the Vice President of the Health IT Communications and Engagement Practice for DCS, now Primaris, and was the Vice President of Marketing for the Human Capital Institute where she developed her passion for organizational development and healthy, thriving workplaces. Laura also held a leadership role at Clarkston Consulting, a life sciences and consumer products consulting firm.

 Laura is a graduate of the Williamson School of Business at Youngstown State University with concentrations in Advertising and Public Relations.

To stay well and creative, Laura spends most of her free time outdoors hiking, camping, fly fishing, and snowshoeing with her family and their 110-pound Labrador Retriever, George, and practices yoga at her favorite studio whenever she can.

Kiara Velasquez
Project Associate

Kiara is a graduate of Boston University where she majored in Health Sciences. She first joined AdvancingWellness as an intern, looking for experience after switching majors during her college career. After graduation, she rejoined the AW team as a Project Associate. She believes she has finally found her niche in the realm of Health Sciences and Public Health. 

In her spare time she enjoys reading, playing guitar, hanging out with her friends, and running along the Charles River Esplanade. She is planning to attend graduate school and earn a Master’s degree in Public Health.