Community: A Cause for Celebration

At IWBI, we believe in the power of community to transform our world: it’s one of the core values of our organization.

Our first community celebration and WELL AP event in 2018 was born out of a desire to recognize the many milestones we’d achieved — and to acknowledge the contributions of our global family — along our WELL journey. What we didn’t anticipate was the scale and enthusiasm of the response.

Having announced the date just two weeks before the awards ceremony, we were amazed and delighted to welcome award winners who altered their plans and booked last-minute flights halfway across the world just to attend our awards event.

After another inspiring gathering in 2019, we were fired up for our 2020 event, which was to have taken place at our inaugural WELL Conference in March. We had imagined once again giving real hugs and handshakes like last year. But our plans, like everyone’s, were derailed by the pandemic.

Because we’d spent the last nine months fine tuning virtual gatherings, we decided to gather our global teams together remotely for this auspicious occasion to express our gratitude and to affirm our sense of community — and we’re so glad we did, this year of all years. It always feels so good to say “thank you” to all our dedicated contributors and collaborators but never more than right here and right now, when we know just how hard people in our community are working.

We honor dozens of people each year for their passion and commitment — our amazing WELL APs and our exceptional WELL Faculty, and, for the first time this year, our incredible Advisors. But we also recognize one person whose leadership has been unmatched and truly transformative — our WELL AP of the Year. This year, I was delighted to announce Melinda Mandla from JLL in Australia as the recipient of our WELL AP of the Year Award 2020.

Mel is amazing. In addition to working on both of the world’s first WELL Portfolio Scores, Mel volunteered her time — as early as 3am in her zone — to assist with the development of the new WELL AP exam. She was also an early advocate for the inclusion of domestic violence as a workplace and public health issue in the WELL Building Standard, successfully navigating an innovation submission on this topic which served as inspiration for our new beta feature.

Mel has been working with government clients to ensure that the health and well-being strategies found in WELL are available to the public sector, was an active member of our COVID-19 Task Force and provided extensive feedback prior to WELL v2’s graduation and the launch of WELL and Greenstar crosswalks. Mel is a shining light in the WELL movement and she so deserves this recognition.

One of our outstanding community leaders on this year’s list of WELL Faculty award winners is Alessandro Bisagni. Founder and managing director at Bisagni Environmental Enterprise (BEE), Alessandro has been a pioneering partner for IWBI since before the launch of WELL v1 and works hard to incorporate WELL into BEE’s global projects. Last year, he delivered an inspiring speech at TED Talk illustrating how WELL strategies help address air quality challenges in Asia. Alessandro is currently collaborating with IWBI to develop the WELL Provider offering.

We love that people engage with WELL across different chapters in their careers — Sue Clark brilliantly exemplifies this. Over the years, Sue has been a WELL champion, no matter where her profession has taken her. As part of the Swedish Green Building Council, Sue brought her insights from the Nordic experience to help make WELL a truly global standard by ensuring that local challenges — such as low winter light levels — were reflected in the final product. We honored Sue once again at this year’s award celebration in her new role at Tengbom Architects.

One of our Advisory stars of 2020 is Ken Fong. Ken is an acoustics and healthy buildings consultant working for global consulting firm, Arup, based in Melbourne. Over the last year Ken has volunteered his expertise for both our Sound and Industrial Sector Advisories, was a member of IWBI’s COVID-19 Task Force, and has been working on a number of iconic WELL projects in Australia, including the Olderfleet building in Melbourne. Ken successfully achieved WELL Platinum Certification at Arup Melbourne’s office in late 2019 — one of the highest-scored projects in the world to date.

Ken has also been working closely with our research team to better track and share the health and well-being outcomes from the Arup Melbourne project. He has been featured on a number of IWBI webcasts throughout the year and always brings a unique and local perspective to these conversations.

Although 2020 has been challenging, it has also sparked innovation. The pandemic has inspired us to find new and creative ways to convene our community, helping us to develop more inclusive events and environments that allow everyone to participate, regardless of geographies or time zones.

This year has taught us that we can be connected by purpose, even when we’re apart. We’re grateful that IWBI has provided a point of focus for participation, bringing abundance to our members in shared opportunities to advance people first places. That, in itself, is a cause for celebration. Cheers!

Rachel Hodgdon is President and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation and the world’s leading organization focused on deploying people first places to advance a global culture of health.



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Rachel Hodgdon

Rachel Hodgdon

Rachel Hodgdon is President and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute, a public benefit corp with a mission to improve human health and well-being.