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Julie Wilson, Chesapeake Energy’s former top executive in North Texas and a longtime Fort Worth public relations agency owner, will head up the Blue Zones well-being project in the city as its vice president.
Wilson confirmed Friday she’s joined Healthways, a Nashville, Tenn. healthcare company that’s teamed up with Texas Health Resources to lead development of Blue Zones in Fort Worth.
“We’ll start building a team of local staff members and community volunteers in the not-too-distant future,” Wilson said in an email to The Business Press verifying her new post.
Blue Zones, led by the New York Times bestselling author Dan Buettner, develops customized community well-being programs and recommended policy changes based on the study of cities worldwide where people live the longest.
Blue Zones, in agreeing to work with a community, typically collaborates with school districts, employers, neighborhoods, restaurants, grocery stores, and healthcare providers to develop buy-in, and Wilson said Blue Zones will be “working closely” with those groups and others in Fort Worth.
Texas Health, which has had a longstanding partnership with Healthways, put up the money for a Blue Zones feasibility study in Fort Worth last year. The city and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce are supporting development of a Blue Zones program in the city.
Fort Worth already has recent experience putting pieces in place for a healthy community. Mayor Betsy Price has been engaging citizens through community bike rides, walking town halls and the Fit Worth initiative. Her SteerFW young leaders group has worked with Fort Worth schools to revamp the menu at DeZavala Elementary School in Fairmount.
Fort Worth also recently won a Safe Communities America designation from the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion, signifying the city’s initiatives to lower injuries.
Texas Health, whose executives have been aggressively looking for ways to promote well-being in the community as a way to help drive down healthcare costs and lengths of hospital stays, offered a few key statistics in a public presentation to the Chamber last year: Poor health costs $17 billion annually in lost productivity in Dallas-Fort Worth, with consumers’ health choices and “behaviors” causing the bulk of those problems.
Blue Zones researchers say they’ve found several common characteristics among communities where people live longest: physical and social activity, high vegetable and low meat consumption, strong family ties and friendships, strong sense of purpose and strong connections to faith-based communities.
Wilson was Chesapeake’s vice president of urban development from 2006 to 2013, heading an operation that eventually included four offices and 1,400 employees.
Before that, she founded and ran the Reasons Group PR firm between 2001 and 2006, and was president and chief executive of the Regian & Wilson agency between 1986 and 2001.