As a Project Officer at Active Living By Design, Tim Schwantes works on state and national initiatives that support community partnerships’ efforts to improve public health through changes in local policies and the built environment. Tim supports technical assistance, communication and monitoring efforts for funded partnerships across the country. He also works on evaluation, communication, and other cross-grantee initiatives, including special research projects and managing the development of technical assistance tools and resources.
Tim’s first experience with active living came as a high school senior, when he built a walking trail around a lake for his Eagle Scout project. After college, he continued this work as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Colorado, where he built trails and helped with maintenance activities in Rocky Mountain National Park. Tim then served as a hospital financial counselor in Fort Collins, CO, helping lower-income patients navigate insurance and assistance systems, a job that convinced him of the importance of preventive care and healthy lifestyles. After moving back to North Carolina, he managed and supported community health assessment efforts in Alamance and Wake Counties, NC.
Tim earned master’s degrees in social work and public health, as well as a B.A. in public policy with a specialization in health policy, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
An avid runner, Tim has competed in many marathons and triathlons, including the Boston Marathon and an Ironman. He is fascinated by ‘80s pop culture, random trivia and enjoys experiencing the world with his partner, Anna.
I have always been excited by the outdoors. Hiking and camping in the neighborhood and in scouting were part of my childhood, where I explored nature and played in the dirt. Sometimes I’d get lost in the woods for hours, just playing and running around with friends. I never thought of it as exercise, nor did safety cross my mind. I learned how to problem solve (when I was lost), inquire (when I discovered a new bug), and appreciate the importance of the environment. The same happened for me around food. My parents were strict about what I ate, and I realized that the healthy food I had access to wasn’t even available for other kids in my school, simply based on where they lived. When I got a bike for my birthday one year, the new places to explore seemed limitless. I would ride into town, go to the grocery store for some gum, and over to friends’ homes. Again, this wasn’t exercise to me – it was fun! Not every kid has similar opportunities, especially now, when many kids have limitations – most out of their control – that don’t allow them to be active or get healthy foods in and around their neighborhoods. I’m proud to work for an organization that engages with communities to focus on increasing children’s and families’ access to healthy food and safe places to play.