About

Thrive is a campus-wide initiative – owned by every member of the Wake Forest University community.  The Office of Wellbeing leads the campus in making wellbeing a part of every experience in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff.

Our Staff

  • Malika Roman Isler, PhD, MPH ('99) - Director of Wellbeing

    Malika by THRIVE leavesMalika is the inaugural Director of Wellbeing at Wake Forest University. As a Wake Forest alumnna, Malika has a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science.  She continued her studies and completed a Master of Public Health (Health Promotion) at the University of South Carolina and a PhD in Public Health (Health Behavior and Health Education) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Malika has over 10 years of experience integrating research and programming, developing health and wellbeing programs and interventions, developing strategic plans that guide health and wellbeing initiatives, and defining assessment tools to ensure research and program effectiveness.  Malika has prevention research and programmatic experience in several areas, including cancer and HIV. Prior to returning to Wake Forest, she served on the faculty of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, as an administrator and faculty lead with the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), and faculty investigator with the Center for Genomics and Society.   In these capacities, Malika was on the investigative team for 10 federally and institutionally funded projects and centers, serving as principal investigator for 3 projects.  With her training and outreach expertise, she provided consultation and technical assistance to collaborative efforts in health and wellbeing among students, community members, clinicians, researchers, and public health practitioners.  In addition to her role as Director of Wellbeing, she has an appointment in the Department of Health and Exercise Science.

  • Tomma Guastaferro - Office Manager

    Tomma Guastaferro joined the Office of Wellbeing in 2015, bringing with her 11 years’ experience in administrative support. Tomma’s role includes assisting the Director in managing the day to day operations of the Office of Wellbeing, budget reporting, and assisting with coordinating and implementing programs and workshops. Prior to joining the Office of Wellbeing Tomma was Coordinator, for the Professional Development Center (PDC). The PDC is a collective resource between the Human Resources Department and the Office of the Provost. Tomma’s work included marketing, conference registration, and organizing classes and workshop series focusing on health and wellbeing. In the fall of 2009, Tomma was instrumental in the implementation of the Gatekeepers program, which emphasizes the value of diversity, inclusion, and the understanding of cultural similarities, differences, and perceptions.

  • Peter E. Rives ('98) - Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention

    Peter RivesPeter Rives is the Assistant Director of Wellbeing – Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention. Upon graduating from Wake Forest with a major in Psychology in 1998, Peter attended the University of Delaware where he completed 4 years of doctoral study in Social Psychology as well as undergraduate teaching and research. In 2001 Peter began work in community-based public mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disabilities services. Over the next 15 years Peter developed as a leader and expert in evidence-based program development, implementation and management within the North Carolina public behavioral health and healthcare systems. Peter has recognized expertise in and has served as a consultant and presenter in the area integrated healthcare. He also has a passion for Motivational Interviewing (MI) and is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). Peter was recognized in 2013 as one of the “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders” by the Business Journal and completed a Jim Bernstein Rural Healthcare Leadership Fellowship in 2014 at the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation.

    At Wake Forest, Peter leads the campus-wide alcohol and other drug (AOD) prevention efforts in collaboration with students and campus and community partners. He serves as chair of the Alcohol and Other Drug Coalition, an interdisciplinary workgroup with 40 members including students, faculty, and staff with 4 active sub-committees meeting monthly. Peter also oversees the AOD intervention programs for students referred by both medical services and conduct as well as for self-referrals and coordinates recovery supports on campus for students in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol.

  • Suzanne Hunt, MPH - Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Health Promotion

    Suzanne Hunt is the Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Health Promotion within the Office of Wellbeing. Awarded the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Suzanne completed her North Carolina teaching license, as well as earning at B.S. in Health and Wellness Promotion. After, she taught second grade for Americorps ProjectPower, she immediately attended graduate school to earn her Master of Public Health with a focus in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior from the University of South Carolina. While in graduate school Suzanne worked to pass the Tobacco-Free USC campus-wide policy, as well as teaching several undergraduate public health courses. Through her work in Campus Wellness, she re-structured the Changing Carolina Peer Leaders program, to provide health promotion initiatives throughout the large campus community. She also spent her time teaching high school health and nutrition courses at a local school in Columbia, South Carolina.

    Upon graduating, Suzanne moved back to North Carolina and worked as one of the initial public health practitioners at Wellness and Recreation at North Carolina State University. There, she assisted in the development of the University’s wellness strategy, taught health coaching courses, as well as enhanced health coaching initiatives to promote a triage process to enhance the wellbeing of the student population. Suzanne became more interested in technology and the influence it has on wellbeing, and utilized this interest as the Lead Developer in creating a gamified wellness module in Moodle titled, Wolfpack Wellness 101. During her tenure at NC State, she dually served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Science in the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, where she completed research on health behavior. She is a Nationally Certified Wellness Practitioner, as well as a Nationally Certified Health Coach and Weight Management Specialist.

    At Wake Forest, Suzanne leads campus-wide collaborative initiatives to promote wellbeing among the students within the campus community. She oversees the WFU P.E.E.R.S. Network strategic initiative within the Office of Wellbeing, as well as Bystander Intervention. Suzanne works collaboratively to implement the Signs of Stress campaign each semester, and assists in implementing New Student Orientation sessions for incoming students.

  • Alisha Hartley - Campus Life Presidential Fellow

    Alisha Hartley was first introduced to Wake Forest University her junior year of high school when she was torn between the polar majors of psychology and accounting. A family friend suggested Wake Forest University for its liberal arts and Magnolia Scholars programs. Having found a dislike for Economics 150 and an interest in Introduction to Psychology, Alisha chose to major in psychology. Over the course of her liberal arts experience, Alisha also decided to minor in entrepreneurship and social enterprise, and African studies. Alisha was intrigued by the study abroad opportunities offered on campus. She studied psychology in Vienna, Austria (Spring 2016) and social and political development in Durban, South Africa (Fall 2017). Alisha incorporated her leadership and social skills into her roles as a Resident Adviser, President’s Aide, and Chair of the Black Excellence Committee. She enjoys listening to her peers and discussing ways to make Wake Forest University more inclusive for everyone. Alisha joined Momentum Crew as a first-year student because she loves dancing and meeting new people. The dance club allowed Alisha to express herself and de-stress. Alisha’s mission in her roles on campus is to encourage and support others in their times of discomfort and contentment. As the Fellow in the Office of Campus Life, Alisha is thrilled to continue being an advocate for wellbeing and self-expression.

  • Regina McCoy, MPH - Wellbeing Coach

    Regina McCoy, MPH, MCHES, NBC – HWC

    I’ve been hooked on being a health educator since the 7th grade when I began the Good Samaritan Club with concern about health and safety after a tragic injury that resulted from the fall of a classmate. I found my way to receive two academic degrees in Public Health Education and spent my early professional career partnering with the community to address maternal and child health issues, especially within under-resourced communities. Currently I am a Professor in The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) – Department of Public Health Education, gratefully giving over 20-years of academic scholarship in community engagement and health coaching. I’ve coached clients with self-identified chronic health conditions (e.g., such as obesity, depression, stress, and multiple sclerosis), and lead the department’s efforts to train and certify lay and professional health coaching practitioners. Wellbeing Coaching is my heart-time job because I can dream with my clients as they discover their path to personal fulfillment and confidently strive to make their dreams a reality.

    As a co-Director of the UNCG Health Coach Training Center I provide consultation and training on evidence-based person-centered care and competency-based assessment of health educators and coach practitioners. In addition to receiving national recognition for making significant contributions to the health education field, I’ve also earned the credential of Master Certified Health Education Specialist and Certified Health & Wellness Coach. Several of my invited presentations and papers have focused on my CBPR efforts to partner with communities to focus on issues that impact the health of mothers, emerging youth, and minority populations.

  • Scarlett Ruppert, MPH - Wellbeing Coach

    Scarlett Ruppert, MPH, CHES

    My background in public health education started with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Here, I found my passion for physical activity and the effects it has on overall wellbeing. As I was working as a personal trainer, I realized that regular exercise not only influences a person’s fitness capabilities, but their overall attitude, mental health, self-efficacy, and self-confidence. Later in my career, I worked as an exercise physiologist where I was running stress tests and cardiovascular screenings for firefighters and other first responders. I soon realized that being healthy was more than going to the gym every day, and that one’s overall attitude, mental health, self-efficacy, and self-confidence plays a role in one’s wellbeing. From here, I pursued a Master’s in Public Health Education where I was able to work with the employee wellness program at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Here, I ran programs for employees that focused on mental health/mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss, and physical activity. I also worked with a research team that explores other factors, such as, safety, access, and workplace stress that influence the health of employees. I believe that health coaching is a powerful tool in allowing others to realize their potential and empower them to make positive choices for their future.

  • Holly Martin, MEd - Wellbeing Coach

    Holly Martin, MEd, CDE, CHC

    I can’t remember when I was not involved in the wellbeing of friends and the community where I lived. Whether it was participating in a walk to combat heart disease or juvenile diabetes, walking with a friend who is a cancer survivor or volunteering at a local free medical clinic, for me the concept of wellness is more than one’s health status.

    I graduated from Trinity University in Texas with a major in Biology and received a Master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro with an emphasis in Health Education. I am a Certified Health Coach (UNC-Greensboro 2014) and have been a Certified Diabetes Educator since 2003.

    I have been working in health education for over 25 years. I began my career as the first health educator with the Bladen County Health department in Elizabethtown, N.C. where I developed and implemented family planning program for the community and pioneered the county’s first family life education program. I then became a regional health educator with a responsibility for 17 county health departments in the southeastern part of the state. My role was to work with the local health educators to develop and implement family planning programs for individual, group and community settings.

    After moving to Winston Salem, I transitioned back into direct patient care when I took the position of Lead Health Educator with Winston Salem Health Care (now Novant Health). For a number of years my primary responsibility was working with RJR employees and their families on the prevention and control of their chronic diseases and in their health/wellness journey. While employed at WSHC I became the first Health and Wellness Coach for the Allegacy Credit Union, working with over 300 employees.

    I have worked with Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company as an Interactive Diabetes Educator and with Merck as an educator for the Journey for Control programs. Have been past president and am presently president of the Piedmont Area Association of Diabetes Educators, PARADE.

    I have also worked with the Research Department at Winston Salem State University as an instructor in 2 research intervention studies. The “Hosea Project,” a 12-week diabetes prevention program based in African American churches and “Weight Matters” an 18-week weight loss intervention program with a focus of reducing the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

    I look at myself as a change agent in an effort to assist individuals in improving their health status and work /life balance. You will find that I am very passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic.

  • Brenda Smith - Wellbeing Coach

    Brenda Smith, CHWC

    After graduating from college my journey into working with individuals in the health and fitness industry started as a part time job as a fitness trainer at Gold’s Gym. My passion grew and continued to grow from this experience. After 28 years in a corporate job, I resigned to follow my purpose and passion in fitness and wellbeing. I have 20 years’ experience as a personal trainer and 12 years’ experience as a yoga instructor. During my nine years working as Associate Wellness Director managing HanesBrand’s headquarters on-site fitness center, I discovered Wellcoaches and got my Wellness Coach certification. I observed people’s needs in and out of the corporate world were becoming more and more holistic. Also from my Wellcoaches certification I have the training in helping individuals in the areas of: life satisfaction, work-life-balance, nutrition, weight management, alcohol intake, tobacco, stress management, sleep and physical activity.
    I am committed to counseling and guiding people holistically in becoming aware of how to live healthier lives through proactive and preventive measures. One of my favorite quotes is “Give a person a fish and he will eat fish for a day. Teach him how to fish and he can eat fish whenever he want.”

  • Kristen Batista - Massage Therapist

    Kristen is a North Carolina board licensed massage and bodywork therapist. Her professional massage therapy sessions are designed personally to for the need and outcomes of every individual client. Many clients are seen for pain management, as part of a rehabilitation plan, or to help ease symptoms of certain medical diagnoses. She blends her Swedish and Deep Tissue techniques to give a relaxed and therapeutic experience. Kristen’s friendly nature and genuine desire to help others resonates through her bodywork.

  • Curtis Edmunds - Message Therapist

    Curtis Edmunds is a graduate of Living Arts Institute in Winston Salem, NC.  Curtis is trained in a variety of massage modalities including relaxation, deep tissue, and sports massage.  He is a health and fitness enthusiast, who understands the importance of maintaining a healthy body.  And he leverages his physical strength and understanding of the human body to help clients reduce stress and alleviate pain.  As a therapist, he ensures that clients are comfortable and that every treatment is customized to meet their specific needs.