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About the Institute

The Wellness Institute was created to aid in the pursuit of better health, balance, well-being, and happiness for individuals and families. Through seminars, a new facility, and a fun and caring environment we can help you on your journey to a brighter future.

Helpful Presentations
The needs of our community are changing rapidly and the Wellness Institute wants to respond with relevant and helpful information and events on topics such as these:
  • Diabetes
  • Weight Management
  •  Holistic Health
  • A Balanced Life
  • Sleep and Rest 
  • Stress
  • Living with Joy
  • Financial Health and Security
  • Heart Health
  • Cooking Light

Wellness Institute seminars provide tools, ideas, and encouragement to make attainable goals for positive lifestyle modification. Each seminar will be presented by local partnering physicians, national speakers, dietitians, nurses, health educators, and the faculty of Southern Adventist University.

Advisory Board

Bob Benge, PhD, Chair

Dean, School of Health and Kinesiology

Leslie Evenson, MPH

Wellness Institute Director

James Marcum, MD


Mark McKenzie, MD

Internal Medicine

Ben Wygal, PhD

Assistant to the President

Dennis Thompson, DO

Family Practice

Meet the Director

Leslie Evenson
I discovered my interest in wellness when, as a student at Southern, I spent a year teaching physical education at Hawaiian Mission Elementary School in Honolulu. During that year, I realized I was less interested in how well my students threw a ball or knew the rules of a game, and very interested in whether they were engaging in healthy activity they enjoyed. I wanted them to understand the basic principles of a healthy lifestyle that would serve them throughout life. When I returned to Southern, I changed to a wellness management major. That led me to Loma Linda University for a master's in public health with a double major in health education and maternal/child health.

Now, as the Wellness Institute director, I want to help people gain the knowledge and tools they need to be healthy and happy. Sometimes that means discussing new ways to be physically active, new types of food or ways of cooking, or better ways to reduce stress or handle conflict. I want to help them find practical, sustainable solutions. That's what I enjoy!