monthly Post stories

Andrea Ledger

Pictured: Queenie Tran (Left) and Andrea Ledger (Right) after running the Medtronic Twin Cities 10k.

Andrea Ledger

Deputy Director of Procurement
Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity

Tell us about the pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in and what you are doing:

Thanks to Healthy Saint Paul, I’ve prioritized getting active as a tool to maximize my energy. I love to run and have enjoyed participating in Run Saint Paul, but I recently sprained my ankle after slipping on some ice. Healthy Saint Paul has helped me to expand my exercise horizons by thinking about smaller ways to incorporate movement and exercise into my day, like walking the skyway at lunch or doing some simple exercises at my desk.

How has the Healthy Saint Paul program improved your quality of life, work-life balance, or job satisfaction?

The HSP program has been a great way to meet new people, especially through Run Saint Paul. I highly recommend it for runners of all skill levels. It’s been great to find a new running buddy in my colleague, Queenie Tran.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year?

Over the past year, my diet has suffered. I have a terrible sweet tooth. This year, I’m going to focus on making healthier choices to satisfy it (like going for a piece of fruit instead of chocolate). I don’t want to deprive myself, but focus on moderation and mindfulness when I’m eating.

What have you done to improve your wellbeing in the last year?

I decided to address a longstanding shoulder injury by committing to physical therapy. I’m amazed by how much better I feel and how I’m able to do more things now. I’ve also incorporated yoga into my exercise routine as a way not just to focus on my mobility and strength, but also to focus on mindfulness. I find that doing even a few poses before bed really improves my sleep.

Thank you for sharing Andrea!


Rose Duffy

Rose Duffey

Office of the City Attorney

Tell us about the pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in
and what you are doing
Music is very healing for people. I play the saxophone in a band, and I look forward to seeing the crowd dancing, singing along, or just sitting back and enjoying the music. I bring people together at our gigs through Facebook invitations. It’s rewarding to see mutual friends getting to know each other through our music. I also get exercise as a musician since I move around a lot on stage.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year
I published my new children’s book and song early this year. I was a motivational speaker for 7 years at a local high school. In May of 2022, I visited a grade school and read my book to the Kindergartners through second grade students. I taught the kids my original song and it was a lot of  fun and very rewarding to know that I am making a difference in their young lives. I want to visit more schools in 2023 in order to motivate and inspire even more young kids.

What you have done to improve your wellbeing in the last year?
As I get older, I’m more aware of the importance of getting outside for exercise and enjoying the fresh air. It helps to clear my mind as well and it helps me to feel grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with, including the beauty of nature.

I have also made up my mind to eat foods that are healthy versus foods that are not good for me. I’ve also been drinking a lot more water.

How has the Healthy Saint Paul
program improved your quality of life, work life balance, or job satisfaction?
I love reading the healthy habits included in Virgin Pulse. The tips have motivated me to eat healthy foods , get up and move, and they help me as a mom of 3 adult children. The tips apply to them as well!

Thank you for sharing Rose!


Bertrene Cage

“I have improved my wellbeing in the last year by losing 30+lbs, joining a strength training group, completing a financial challenge, and tracking my sleeping habits to experience a more productive day.”

Bertrene Cage

Tell us about a pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in and what you are doing:

I have joined a strength training class 4 days a week, which has transformed my body physically, as well as mentally. It has given me confidence to perform tasks I didn’t think I was capable of  accomplishing. When I stay  active, I notice that I experience a more restful sleep. I have lost 30+lbs of fat but have also gained muscle weight. This was very
challenging in the beginning because I saw my body changing but the scale wasn’t moving much. Once I got over the mental turmoil of muscle weighing more than fat, I was able to continue the course and enjoy the benefits my body was giving me

How has the Healthy Saint Paul Program improved your quality of life, work life balance, or job satisfaction?

I am a very competitive person. Healthy Saint Paul has helped feed my competitive nature in a positive way. I knew my weight was hitting a dangerous high, so I set a goal. I would enter my daily results in HSP and was able to track my progress. What a joy to go back one or two weeks/months and see the change. In the VirginPulse app for healthy Saint Paul, you can create challenges, groups, or invite your co-workers. When I saw one or several of them having more steps than me, my competitive nature surfaced, and I would try to increase my
daily steps. This created fun banter among me and my co-workers, not to mention it was a
great health benefit.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year?

Consistency!! I have been a part of Healthy Saint Paul for years, but this year was different. I want to be consistent in my wellness journey instead of the start and stop commitment o f past.

Thank you for sharing, Bertrene!


Bridget Hajny

Bridget Hajny

Administrative Manager Saint Paul Fire Department

What drives your passion for wellbeing?

I stay active because when I stay active, I feel better. Of course, I have less inflammation, aches and pains, but I stay active for not only my physical health but my mental health too.

To Run, Or Not To Run:
Many assume I love running since I’ve run a handful of marathons and I lead the Saint Paul run club, We Run Saint Paul . But I don’t always love running, it depends on the day. I’ve found I have a much better experience if I keep a positive attitude. All it (usually) takes is for me to tell myself that “I get to go running”, or “it’s a beautiful day for a run” before I venture out. This helps tremendously! I look forward to runs more when I’ve made plans to run with a friend.

We Run Saint Paul meets Wednesdays at noon, it’s a great group of runners that are very supportive Not all of my training runs were great, learning what works well for me helped a lot more than running, I enjoy lifting weights. I’ve found a lifting class that I take with another fun group of people. Even if I’m not excited about the workout for the day, I’m always happy to see my friends, by the end of the workout I’m always glad I went.


I was happy to champion the Healthy Saint Paul team for Twin Cities Marathon weekend. It was  fun to get the notification emails that other City employees had signed for the 5K, 10K, or marathon. Healthy Saint Paul decided to sponsor the team again for 2023, watch for additional information!

My favorite parts of training were having my kids ask me how far I ran each day and them being amazed, as well as coming home from my run to my partner and our dog. I can’t thank my family enough for their support during my summer training! The kids have started getting into running , trying a 5K each year. This year was their first in person race, they were so excited to cross the finish line!

Thank you for sharing, Bridget!


Kyle Bode

Kyle Bode

Health and Wellness Coordinator Saint Paul Fire Department

What interested you in becoming  a wellbeing champion in your department?

Fitness has always been a huge part of my life. I’m always training for something like a marathon, a triathlon, or a rucking event. More recently, things got out of hand for me, and I checked myself into treatment and was treated for PTSD. As I continued down my recovery path, I recognized that I could help others through all my own life experiences.

What drives your passion for your own personal wellbeing?

My wellbeing is so important to me because being the best version of myself helps me serve those around me. Being well helps me to be a better husband, father, and employee. Also, as the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Fire Department, I like to lead by example to help my fellow firefighters be the best version of themselves.

What have you learned about yourself or others since becoming a wellbeing champion?

I think the biggest lesson that I have learned is that it is ok to ask for help. For the longest time, I thought that I had it all under control. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t and that it was ok to reach out for assistance.

Thank you for sharing Kyle!


Isaac Mielke

Isaac Mielke

City of Saint Paul – Library Associate Riverview Library

Tell us about the pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in and what you are doing?

My pillars are physical and social. I am both a manager and player of my adult recreational soccer team!

I have cofacilitated an antiracist book club at the City of Saint Paul where we work on body practices, including breathing exercises. This has really helped me in my work at the library, to deescalate any incidents.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year?

I need to exercise more, especially in the winter. I am looking for a gym to play basketball!

How has the Healthy Saint Paul program improved your quality of life, worklife balance, or job

The newsletters always share really helpful tips! I didn’t know about the new National Suicide Prevention Line dialing code until I saw it in the May newsletter.

Thank you for sharing, Isaac!

monthly Post stories

Luisana S. Mendez Escalante

Luisana S. Mendez Escalante

City of Saint Paul Public Works – Traffic Engineering Division

Tell us about the pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in and what you are doing?

  • My pillars are physical and emotional health.  Anxiety formed as a consequence of COVID 19. I discovered that when I walked outside, my anxiety decreased, so I incorporated outdoor activities to keep myself physically and emotionally healthy, mainly hiking.
  • During 2022, I have had the opportunity to share this activity with my friends, family, and members of the Latino community in MN. I have completed challenges and I created my own Hiking Club as a space to walk and promote physical and emotional health. So far, I have done 58 hikes and have covered about 216.3 miles. I also train at the gym at least 4 times a week.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year?

  • I want to build up my cardiovascular health and continue hiking more miles than this year.

How has the Healthy Saint Paul program improved your quality of life, worklife balance, or job satisfaction?

  • The program offers information and tools that have motivated me to follow my healthy habits more consciously.

Sarah Reasoner

Sarah Reasoner has been an All-America track star, a bodybuilder, and a champion powerlifter. But firefighter is the job that really ended up being her calling.

As Sarah told the Star Tribune recently, “I put on that gear and I knew. This was it. This is what I wanted to do.” She added: “A lot of this job is realizing that we’re supposed to help people, and this world is not about us.”

Reasoner has only been with the department full-time since July. But she’s already one of its best-known firefighters. As shown in the attached photo, she was recently named one of the world’s strongest firefighters in Santa Monica, California in a competition hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Coming in 5th, was the event’s first female competitor.

Reasoner welcomes the physical demands of being a firefighter.

During a recent workout at a gym in northeast Minneapolis, she focused on strengthening her legs and back — doing dead lifts and leg curls. The workouts help her perform better in a job that has already involved going into burning buildings in full gear, she said.

After doing well on the written test, Reasoner spent the summer of 2018 training for the physical exam. In September 2018, on her 30th birthday, she not only passed it but broke the record.

Reasoner graduated from the three-month academy at the end of June and has been on the job since the start of July. For her first three years, she’ll rotate from station to station as needed, filling in for firefighters who call in sick, go on vacation or who are injured. She said she loves the collegiality. She loves the need for teamwork. She loves the physical demands of the job. Her goal is to be a firefighter her entire career.

This job is everything and more of what I wanted it to be,” she said. “It’s challenging every day. Every day, you learn.”

Despite the recent accolades, Reasoner said she simply wants to become the best firefighter she can be. And while she enjoys the strongman contests, she savors doing something meaningful with her strength.

“It’s pretty humbling to know there are guys who have been on this job and women who have been on this job who can run circles around me,” she said.

“It’s humbling and motivating to know that my crew depends on me. And the citizens of St. Paul depend on me.”

Story excerpted from


Josh Hern

Josh is an Accountant in Fire, working with grants and the budget process. He has been with the City for almost exactly one year (January 22.)

About four months ago, Josh had his body composition analyzed by a machine that was on temporary loan to the Fire Department. This machine measures the levels of fat, muscle and water in the body. Josh remembers being shocked at the results! He had been running, feeling ok – in no way imagined he had reached 190 pounds with a lower distribution of muscle than desired. He decided to “kick it into high gear.”

First he evaluated what he was eating – meals and snacks. What WAS he snacking on? Josh made healthier choices, forgoing Pop Tarts for almonds and string cheese. He remarked that as an 11-year-old he was thin as a rail and could eat whatever he wanted, but is sadly no longer the case. We lamented for a moment the loss of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts – a personal favorite for both of us!

Josh also increased his water intake, eventually reaching his goal of a gallon per day. In terms of workouts, he incorporated a mix of weights and cardio. He used a program called ’80 Day Obsession’ as an overall guide to workouts and attention to diet.

Josh dropped from 190 to 177, creeping up a bit to 180 during the holidays, but is working on getting back to 177. He has learned that it really comes down to what he puts into his body. “It’s about making conscious choices,” says Josh. “A friend or coworker may encourage you that ‘it’s just one cookie’ or it’s just one donut’, which might be true in that moment. But if you have ‘just one’ several days a week, it adds up.”

Josh said that Jody Griffin, our December Employee Story, was exactly right: it has to be long term. As he said, “this is my lifestyle now.”


Beth Ulrich and Dan Bayers

Beth Ulrich and Dan Bayers are long-time employees in Planning and Economic Development. Combined, they have nearly 60 years of service to the City of Saint Paul.
Dan and Beth have been part of a walking group at lunch for years. An average of four times a week, no matter the weather, they walk downtown over their lunch hour.

Dan and his sister had been planning to hike the Grand Canyon for a long time. They thought they could go down, camp one night, then come back the next morning. For five years in a row they applied for a camping permit, but did not get in as there is a limited supply.

Eventually they decided to do it all in a day. No camping meant no overnight equipment required, which made for an easier, faster hike.

Dan mentioned to Beth that he and his sister had their plan in place. Beth wanted to go too – in fact, her sister wanted to go along! So, it became a four-person adventure.

Beth did a lot of reading and research. The hike from the North Rim to the South Rim is 24.5 miles in length, with another two miles added for descent and ascent. Nearly all accounts of “average hikes” indicated that the last six miles were usually brutal.

They prepared by months of training. Dan’s hikes ranged from 7 to 24 miles depending on the day, including training carrying 19-pound packs at Afton Hills. Beth and her sister trained on the Stillwater Stairs – 12 circuits equal a mile. Dan’s sister, who lives in Denver, has hiked the Colorado Trail for two weeks so was more than ready. The rest of the group flew out a week in advance to acclimate to the altitude. Beth and her sister hiked Bryce and Zion Canyons first to get some practice.

The group was also prepared for emergencies: for example, they had a filtration system at the ready in case water lines were not open.

They began at 5:30 am, when it was still dark. For the first hour, they could only see about a foot in front of them. Twelve and a half hours later they arrived at the top of the South Rim. Beth remembers being about three miles into that last six when she realized “This is not so bad!” It turned out they had trained so well that none of them got even the tiniest sore muscle.

Laughing, they agreed the worst part was Beth slowing them all down by having to repeatedly tie her shoelaces.