Nancy Spangler, PhD, OTR/L

Founder and President  

Dr. Nancy Spangler has a long standing interest in individual health and thriving workplaces, as well as the brain research on thinking, emotions, behaviors, and social connectedness that supports both. Since the 1980s, Spangler has helped people and organizations change and grow through consulting, group facilitation, training, and research.

Spangler has translated her background in neuroscience, occupational therapy, and workplace health promotion into a system to create positive change in individuals and organizations. Her dedication to the brain came from early neuroscience studies and clinical work as an occupational therapist (OT) in pediatric, rehabilitation, and psychiatric settings. As an OT, she saw clients make dramatic improvements in social-emotional processing and skill development despite significant challenges. Clients included adults with serious brain injuries related to trauma, stroke, and accidents; children with serious developmental disabilities related to autism, cerebral palsy, and abuse; and clients with serious mental illness. She had experience with one of the earliest pain management programs in the U.S. to include stress management as a major component.

After watching people with serious conditions improve substantially, Spangler wondered why we would not expect non-injured brains to also experience enhanced neural growth and circuit development. Her work has built on evidence that the brain has remarkable capacity for dramatic change, and we humans are able to withstand great challenges, to complete hard work that leads to meaning and purpose, to rebound from difficulties, and to thrive. 

The large portion of Spangler’s career has been devoted to workplace population health management and developing strategies for prevention, early detection, and management of chronic and costly health conditions. She has focused particularly on mental health through her many years of work with the Mid America Coalition on Health Care and the American Psychiatric Foundation’s Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, where she has developed resources, case examples, and joint presentations with employers to promote innovative and effective approaches to supporting mental health.

Mental health conditions are highly prevalent, costly in human and financial terms, and significantly affect organizational thriving. Early detection and preventive approaches are equally important for mental health as for physical health, yet are often overlooked. Nancy understands the complex systems that contribute to total well-being – such as human capital development, communication, benefits, population health management, disability management, and health care delivery – she helps to find collaborative solutions. She has taught and practiced mindfulness since 1982 and sees applications for personal and organizational health.

Spangler's PhD in therapeutic science allowed her to study the intersection between individual health, organizational health, and neuroscience. She has training and experience in leadership development and behavioral coaching strategies, as well as methods for enhancing human performance and building resilient organizational and community cultures. She especially enjoys working with groups of executives, managers, and supervisors who are committed to meaningful personal and organizational change.

Nancy frequently speaks at regional and national level conferences, and she teaches as an adjunct professor of graduate-level students at Rockhurst University, keeping her challenged to continuously learn and grow.  She is an experienced researcher, including survey, interview, and focus group research, as well as action research, appreciative inquiry, and other positive organizational approaches.

Selected Publications

Spangler, N.W., Koesten, J., Fox, M.H., & Radel, J. (2012). Employer perceptions of stress and resilience intervention.  Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 54 (11), 1421-1429. 

Spangler, N.W. (2013) Employer Practices for Addressing Stress and Building Resilience. Arlington, VA: Partnership for Workplace Mental Health.     

 Spangler, N.W. (2015). Evaluating the effects of Wellness Works – A training program of Mental Health America of California. Sacramento, CA: Mental Health America of California.

See Spangler's current and archived Mental Health Works articles describing employer examples at