Meet some of Dal’s wellness champions – Dal News

As part of Dal’s Employee Appreciation Week, we highlight some of the university’s most valuable players.

Today’s theme: Health and wellness.

Heather Elliott


Research Facilitator, Faculty of Computer Science

Year joined Dal: Completed Master of Environmental Science at Dal in 2015, joined as a full-time employee in 2018

Heather is the departmental wellness champion in Computer Science.

What achievement in your department or unit are you most proud of when it comes to wellness? 

While there are lots of things that I’m proud of that our Faculty’s been doing, I’m most proud of how our faculty and staff actively celebrate each other’s achievements. The number of submissions for the Good News section of the Dean’s Report to Faculty Council is so great now that we need to identify additional ways to share and celebrate these successes. As we’ve grown, it’s become more challenging to keep up with everyone, so celebrating our successes has helped with building and maintaining a sense of community and appreciation for each other.

Jerry Aguinaga 


Director, Environmental Health and Safety Office

Year joined Dal: 2013

Jerry is a people leader at Dal.

What achievement in your department or unit are you most proud of when it comes to wellness?

I’m so fortunate to be part of this high performance team of specialists in our EHS office that work everyday to help keep Dalhousie a safe place to work and study. Wellness and psychological safety are top priority items for us, and we make a conscious effort to choose to focus on this. As a team, we work consistently to support and build up each other and to be on the lookout for anyone that might need some assistance. This EHS team has responsibilities for a wide, diverse array of topics including biological safety, radiation safety, lab safety, fire and life safety, industrial safety and farm safety. I am most proud of the sense of respect and camaraderie that exists within the team. Members of the team have a large degree of autonomy and will routinely use this to assist each other as they see a need. They are incredibly hard working and dedicated and truly enjoy their roles at Dal.

This team is leading significant advancements in safety and most recently have released a series of super short “Safety Snippet” videos. These 2-4 minute videos are a great way to start any team meeting! Please consider showing one at your next team meeting! Plus please check out our EHS Office my Dal page; it is packed with great information! I am beyond proud to be part of this truly high performance team!

Danielle Melanson


Manager, Prospect Management — Office of Advancement

Year joined Dal: 2013

Danielle is the departmental wellness champion in Advancement.

What achievement in your department or unit are you most proud of when it comes to wellness?

The Office of Advancement has experienced a significant amount of growth, change, and, most recently, loss. I am most proud of the fact that as a team, we have demonstrated not only resilience but more importantly compassion for other another. We can only shine in our important work of engagement and fundraising when we are well and feel supported . . . we need to first recognize each other’s humanity. I am also proud that our leaders are actively asking what we need to thrive personally and professionally. The recently instituted (and well-received) PD/wellness afternoons were implemented in response to wellness-related discussions.

Pam Bourque

Chief Operating Officer, Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (Saint John)

Year joined Dal: 2009

Pam is a people leader at Dal.

What achievement in your department or unit are you most proud of when it comes to wellness?

Building comradery and a team environment has been important to our Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick team since the beginning. One of our favourite activities has been the Spring Tune-Up, a 3-week program filled with activities including photo scavenger hunts, lawn and board games, Bollywood dancing and sessions on managing finances, time, and relaxation techniques. We are slowly and cautiously beginning to reintroduce in-person activities and we remain hopeful the years ahead will again be fueled with many fun and educational activities and events.

Shawna O’Hearn


Director, Community Partnerships and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine

Year joined Dal: 2008

Shawna is lead of Dal’s Menopause Support Group.

What achievement in your department or unit are you most proud of when it comes to wellness?

I believe that the core of Dalhousie is our people. By listening to their lived experiences, we create a healthier organization. We are learning to discuss race, gender, and generational differences more openly at work and now we are putting menopause on the agenda. In 2022, we took a leap into a rarely talked about concern for many of our employees and included menopause as part of our wellness conversations. The impact of the transition to menopause can be devastating and can last from seven to 14 years. I am proud of Dalhousie faculty and staff who actively engage in our monthly menopause support group. There is strength in community as we open the conversation, remove the silence, and eliminate the stigma associated with menopause. Together we are a healthier Dalhousie!

Stay tuned for an article on the Menopause Support Group in early March on Dal News.

Learn more about Dal’s Employee Appreciation Week events and activities (login required).

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