The theme of 2022’s Women’s History Month – Providing Healing, Promoting Hope – feels more relevant than ever. Throughout history, women have been the healers and the caretakers.
Over the past two years, they have navigated the pandemic with especially high levels of strength, resilience, and care. They have a knack for recognizing that wellness goes beyond physical health; wellness also includes our mental and emotional wellbeing.
As we honor the contributions that women have made throughout history, we also celebrate female leaders who have made a difference in the world around them. Walker Tracker is proud to recognize these Influential Women in Wellness making waves in the corporate and community wellbeing sphere. Each of these influential leaders share their background, impact and their passion for equitable and healthy living for all.
Stay tuned as we highlight 12 powerful and influential women in the wellness space. To start us off, after the jump is Rachel Drunkenmiller, CEO of UNMUTED – read on to learn more about Rachel’s incredible impact.
Meet Walker Tracker’s 2022 Influential Women In Wellness
Rachel Druckenmiller- Speaker, Trainer, & CEO of UNMUTED
Rachel Druckenmiller is on a mission to humanize the workplace by igniting resilience, connection, engagement and compassion in organizations, associations and their leaders and teams. Recognized by Forbes as a Next1000 honoree in 2021, the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. in 2015, a 40 Under 40 Game Changer in 2019, and one of The Daily Record’s Leading Women of 2020, Rachel is a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement and wellbeing.
Known for her refreshing, dynamic and relatable approach, she has reached tens of thousands of people through her in-person and virtual learning experiences as a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and leadership trainer. Rachel has worked with organizations like Citizens Bank, Deloitte, Sherwin-Williams, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the American Heart Association.
Rachel has a Master’s degree in Health Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is a Licensed Thriving Workplace Culture Coach and Health Coach. She is also a Founding Member of the international nonprofit, Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W).
Rachel recently took the time to share some insights with Walker Tracker about how she’s chosen to live intentionally and help others do the same.
Tell us about yourself.
Inspired by the example of my parents, who are teachers turned entrepreneurs, I became very intrapreneurial at a benefits consulting firm in Baltimore when I graduated from college. I took my passions and interests in health and human behavior and turned them into a job as a Wellness Coordinator in 2007. I continued to be fascinated by how we could optimize health, fulfillment, relationships, and performance at work.
I went back to school and earned a Master’s degree in Health Science in 2012 and then studied to become a health coach a year later and a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert after that. In 2015, I was recognized by WELCOA as the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S., and one year later, I had my first national keynote at their conference. I had started speaking in smaller venues as early as 2009, but 2016 marked my official foray into the national speaking world, and I was hooked. Less than a year later, I burned out due to all the pressure I was putting on myself to keep achieving and proving myself and shifted my wellbeing focus to be as much on emotional and mental health as physical health.
Two years later, I followed in my parents’ footsteps to launch my company, UNMUTED, through which I help organizations, leaders and their teams ignite connection, engagement, resilience, and confidence, so they live and lead more intentionally. I do this through keynotes and interactive workshops, retreats, training, and team-building experiences, virtually and in person.
What is your WHY?
My own journey with sickness from the time I was little and my exposure to people like Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Tony Robbins through my parents at a young age drew me into this field. When I met the Wellness Manager of a local gym my first year out of college and was introduced to the field of corporate wellness in 2007, I felt like I’d found my path and my people. I believe that I’m here to turn my messes into messages to uplift, inspire and equip people to overcome their own challenges, whether it’s physical sickness and pain, burnout, disengagement, a lack of fulfillment at work or in their relationships, or a lack of peace, energy or joy in their lives.
As someone who has struggled in every area of my wellbeing – socially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and professionally – I feel called to use my voice as a speaker, writer, and facilitator to be a catalyst for transformation and breakthrough. My goal is that people will leave experiences and interactions with me feeling more hopeful, connected, empowered and less alone, so they approach life with more courage, confidence, compassion, and clarity.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
I would tell my 26-year-old self this: I know you feel frustrated, unheard and misunderstood sometimes. That’s hard and it can feel isolating. But stick with your message and trust that even if you feel like the lone voice, your voice and unique perspective are very much needed in this space and in the world. You know what’s awesome? It’s your willingness to be different that will help you stand out in a few years and lead you to receive national recognition that will change your career and your life.
Also, I know work is really important to you, but you’ll be happier and more fulfilled if you spend more time connecting with who and what brings you joy, not just who and what can advance your career. Oh, and one more thing, you’re pretty awesome and I admire your courage, tenacity and confidence. I’m proud of who you ARE, not just what you do or what you have accomplished.
There are a lot of women in the health/wellbeing space. Do you think women are uniquely positioned to drive wellness/wellbeing? Why?
I believe everyone’s contribution is meaningful and necessary and that each of us can contribute unique experiences, insights, and perspectives that can help all of us grow, heal and thrive. Having said that, I believe women inherently bring qualities like gentleness, patience, vulnerability, empathy, openness, harmony, creativity, adaptability, beauty, intuition, expression, and collaboration into the world. All of those lend themselves well to leading the wellbeing industry and leading individuals and organizations on a journey toward wholeness and fulfillment.
Men can bring those qualities, too, of course, but I think women are naturally a bit more attuned to the crossover of our physical, relational, emotional, and spiritual health and wellbeing. We are wired to be caregivers and nurturers and to come alongside people vs. seeking to have power over them. I think the future of wellness will continue to evolve in such a way that is less prescriptive and dogmatic and more relational and focused on elevating and supporting the whole person. We heal and thrive in the context of community and connection, and I think women are particularly wired and well-positioned to lead the way.
What women have been influential in your life/path?
So many women have been influential along my path. My mom showed me that it was possible to be a successful and confident professional woman in a male-dominated industry and that I could pave my own way as she did. Watching Oprah as a young girl exposed me to all kinds of thought leaders who would influence my interest in optimizing our lives and our health for years to come.
The first woman who influenced my wellness career path was Jessica Sheffield. She was the Wellness Manager at a gym near me and introduced me to the field of corporate wellness in 2007. By shadowing her and learning from her and hiring her company to help our clients and our company, I realized that I wanted to dive into the wellness field as my career. Prior to meeting her, I knew next to nothing about the field of corporate wellbeing, but the creativity, strategy and heart with which Jessica approached her work had a strong influence on me. I’m forever grateful to her for being a catalyst in my career!
Two years later, in 2009, I connected with Rosie Ward, who also worked for an insurance broker but was approaching wellness and engagement in a refreshing and courageous way. I latched onto her and learned from her and have been grateful to have her as a mentor for nearly 15 years!
Leaders can support well-being for women in so many ways! Making sure women are represented on leadership and management teams to an equal degree as men is important if we want to see sustainable change happen. Leaders can start by listening to us and involving us in decisions that affect us, our loved ones, and our health and wellbeing. Invite women to help design policies around things like parental leave, caregiver leave, benefits, and flexibility. Create mentorship opportunities for women to learn from and be influenced by other women in the organization who can guide and coach them is another step organizations can take to support women and their wellbeing.
For organizations that have women’s affinity groups, integrate men into those experiences and conversations as well, so that you’re not just preaching to the choir and having experiences just for women about how they can elevate themselves at work but without the support of people who can enact meaningful changes. It would also help for men to better understand the challenges women face trying to find harmony between work and life outside of work, especially as women navigate different career transitions and need more flexibility and support.