2023 brand ambassadors: From strangers to family in 4 days

Program brings colleagues together for health system’s mission – and lots of fun

2023 brand ambassadors: From strangers to family in 4 days

Service projects, eating out for every meal, and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.

That’s what largely encompassed the 2023 Sanford Health brand ambassador trip to San Diego, California.

What’s a brand ambassador?

Ryan Narlock, a program manager for the Sanford Health virtual care team, said a brand ambassador means “you’re helping to fill the mission and vision of Sanford and making an impact to our organization.”

The brand ambassador title is saved for employees who go above and beyond. And Narlock said being a brand ambassador is a daily choice.

“We make a choice to bring our best selves to work every day for our colleagues, patients, and community,” he said.

Aaste Campbell, the enterprise director of clinician experience at Sanford Health, said there was a sense of guilt when she was named a brand ambassador.

“I thought of all the others that should have gotten it instead of me. That’s the beauty of our organization – there are countless people who are worthy of this recognition,” she said.

‘I felt noticed and valued’

Jeremy Cronemiller said it was an honor to receive the recognition. As a Sanford Health transportation driver, he transports patients in a mental health crisis to a higher level of care.

“In my role, I spend a lot of time working by myself. It can be easy to think of myself as small and invisible. I came to realize that Sanford is not just a large business, but rather a large team of like-minded individuals trying to make the world a better place,” he said.

Related: Sanford Health awarded for outstanding team and culture

Chris Hames, the manager of guest services, valet, and volunteer services at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota, said the smallest gestures make the biggest differences, and that’s something Sanford Health has a keen grasp on.

“The small touches matter. I have the privilege to lead individuals who inspire me. They don’t do surgery, they’re not saving lives, they don’t make complicated diagnoses; but I have witnessed firsthand, a hundred times over, a patient’s experience changed because of small touches,” he said.

A jam-packed schedule

The 2023 brand ambassadors were named and awarded via a surprise ceremony, organized by their peers.

Part of being a brand ambassador is going on an all-expense-paid trip. The 2023 crew went to San Diego.

And they kept busy.

“There were beer halls, a beach party, a cruise, a safari tour, a private chef experience,” said Narlock.

“The most memorable part of the trip for me, besides all of the constant laughter and camaraderie, was taking part in the service project of building and decorating skateboards for a local charity.

“It not only fit Sanford’s values of community, but helping another organization trying to make an impact on their community was very fitting. Plus, it allowed us ambassadors to further interact and get to know each other,” added Narlock.

Lifetime connections

Each and every ambassador said the trip was incredible, but the most special aspect was how surreal it was to arrive as complete strangers, only to leave the trip as a family.

“The memories that will last forever are the friendships and connections I made with others,” said Campbell.

“I can’t remember a time I laughed so hard, or enjoyed the presence of others to that extent,” added Hames.

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Company News, People & Culture, Sanford Stories