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Reflections from grantees

So much of our inspiration at Active Living By Design comes from relationships and mutual learning with community leaders. These champions, with the help of their partners, know what it takes to create a healthier community in the social, political and geographic landscape where they live. Many have helped ALBD refine our coaching, technical assistance and understanding of the community perspective to this work. Read about their experiences in the healthy communities arena.

Ten Years of Grantees


Michael Ball

Mike Ball1_compressed_0Former Director of Campus Planning
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc., Buffalo, NY

Buffalo, NY isn’t what comes to mind when people think of healthy places, so we certainly had our work cut out for us. The Active Living by Design grant program opened our door to a wealth of national expertise, a network of amazing partners, and gave us a platform for telling our story to the world. Since our relationship with ALBD began, we’ve grown from a small partnership to a regional movement that is leading the way towards making our communities healthy for everyone. The 5P Community Action Model has become the gold standard for positive change and has empowered us to make measureable improvements to public policies and our physical environment. Buffalo is closer to becoming not only a model for great chicken wings but a place where the healthy choice is the easy choice — and it all started with our first grant with ALBD. Thank you! Back to Top

Alice Keene

AliceKeeneSpecial Projects Coordinator
Pitt County Government, Greenville, NC

The citizens of Pitt County have been blessed by the vision and hard work of collaborative partners that are determined to make physical activity and healthy eating more accessible to all. Active Living By Design continues to be one of those partners that has provided guidance and support ranging from our Fit Community Designation and Grant to our Fit Together Grant. Your staff has taken the time to get to know us not just as a “grantee”, but as a community fiercely determined to find the resources to move us toward our shared vision for a healthier community, state and nation. With excellence and strategically planned precision … your workshops, resources and technical assistance have provided guidance, recognition and very importantly an arena through which we can network and learn from each other. We join you in celebrating the real difference you have made in communities across the country in the first 10 years …. and look forward to our continuing journey as there is much work to be done! Back to Top

Ned Barrett

Ned Barrett1_compressed_0Partnership Coordinator
Partners for Active Living, Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg’s position as an healthy living leader in South Carolina is manifest in our being named the first Bicycle Friendly Community in the state by the League of American Bicyclists, and by our leading the state with 40 schools participating in International Walk to School Day. We have seen built environment improvements, policy initiatives including Complete Streets resolutions in the City and County, and the launch of the first bike-sharing program in the southeast. Our progress has been spurred by working with Active Living By Design on the Healthy Kids Healthy Communities grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, launching the Hub City Farmers Market Mobile Market (first in the state), leveraging funding for intersection improvements and other changes to the built environment, and bringing attention to the obesity epidemic in Spartanburg County and the nation. The support we have gotten from ALBD has allowed us to make strides well beyond what many cities and counties our size have been able to make. Back to Top

Peggy Lipon

Peggy Linton1_compressed_0Community Development Director
Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Hernando, MS

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities of DeSoto, Tate and Marshall Counties has assisted the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi (CFNM) in ”moving the needle” closer to becoming a healthy state. Our HKHC grant and the resources provided through Active Living By Design were (are) the key to making those permanent, life-changing policies and environmental changes that will sustain our work. CFNM began its childhood obesity prevention work in 2005, but the catalyst for making permanent change came with the HKHC grant and our relationship with ALBD. From the grantee meetings to our one-on-ones with our project officer, ALBD has answered every question, provided requested resources and made networking with others doing this type of work easy and accessible. Kudos to ALBD for being such a great program manager for this national program! Back to Top

Marigny Bostock

Marigny Bostock1_compressed_0Community Health Supervisor
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, Louisville, KY

In thinking through what to say about my experience working with you, the ALBD staff, and other communities around the country, it boils down to the word inspiration. I’m inspired each and every day by folks who believe in what they do to make our communities livable, healthier places. I can’t wait to see what another decade of collaborative healthy communities work will bring, and I have been extremely lucky to work with some of the best people in this movement. Thanks to the ALBD team for all of the support, technical assistance, and fun along the way! Back to Top

Malisa McCreedy

Malisa McCreedy1_compressed_0Pedestrian Program Manager
Charlotte Department of Transportation, Charlotte, NC

I first became involved with Active Living By Design in 2004 when there was nary a whisper about the relationship between transportation, land use and public health. Due to the ALBD movement, today there is an impressive list of successful efforts across the nation correlating the health of a community to its built environment. I am honored to have chaired the Get Active Orlando (GAO) initiative in Orlando, Florida. Our work impacted the community at all levels from a child learning to ride a bike safely in his neighborhood to writing health considerations into citywide policies. My favorite memories happened during walks with seniors, harvesting collard greens from the community garden, and creating mosaic mile markers for several parks with neighborhood kids. GAO not only impacted the community, it has had profound effect on my personal journey. Congratulations on a decade of inspiration! Back to Top

Jaime Corliss

Somerville1_compressedMass in Motion, Somerville, MA

ALBD has been a funder, supporter and friend of Somerville, MA since 2004. During the last eight years we’ve accomplished a great deal together. Bike and pedestrian activity grows every day thanks to constantly evolving infrastructure improvements, our newly renovated parks are filled with activity and people of all ages, we have more options for fresh, local produce than ever before, we have a dedicated group of City and community stakeholders that engages our community in the work, and we’ve charted a path through our recently updated comprehensive plan that keeps healthy eating/active living at the forefront of community design for the next 20 years. Somerville is healthier than it has ever been. We are truly thankful to have had the honor and privilege to partner with ALBD for almost a decade. A smarter, more passionate, more gracious and more service oriented team can’t be found. Thanks, ALBD, and congratulations on 10 years of success! Back to Top

Adetokunbo Omishakin

Toks Omishakin1_compressed_0Assistant Commissioner/Chief Bureau of Environment & Planning
Tennessee Department of Transportation, Nashville, TN

Wow… I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already! Congratulations indeed! It is amazing to look back and see that ALBD pioneered a movement that not only helped build better streets, parks, schools, and neighborhoods, but also helped establish policy and funding for more livable environments, healthy living for all ages, and even economic development. You trail blazed this movement in a new century before these issues were really the thing to do. In Nashville (and even Tennessee), I can report back that you definitely left a mark — from funding the first ever Safe Routes to School project in the state, to creating the Tour de Nash, and to improved policies on Subdivision regulations. Now in Nashville and many communities around the state, Complete Streets and creating livable communities are the things to do. It’s expected now!

I think part of the goal for every progressive non-governmental organization should be to work itself out of existence. That they become so successful, that the very issue they advocate for on a daily basis and brought about their existence becomes the norm. There is undoubtedly more work to do. I am honored to have been a part of it all. Thank you so much for all that you do! Back to Top

Kirsten Frandsen

Kristen Frandsen1_compressed_0Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma, WA

As a former Active Living/Healthy Eating by Design grantee, I would like to congratulate and thank the Active Living By Design staff for their contributions to the healthy communities’ movement.

Ten years ago, those of us working in the nutrition and physical activity realm were introduced to a new concept – the use of a policy, systems and environmental change framework to decrease obesity. One of the trademarks of this spectacular new project was its “low funding, high touch” grant making approach. ALbD operated under the belief that throwing money at the problem without a thoughtful plan was not going to solve the obesity problem. Instead, they provided modest funding but high levels of support through top notch technical assistance and learning opportunities. Through a competitive vetting process, they identified passionate grantees who worked with communities in need. Graciously and seamlessly, ALBD guided us in making connections and facilitated national networking opportunities. They inspired us through role modeling of their “work hard, play hard” philosophy and cheered us on throughout the way. Together, we rolled up our sleeves and learned how to do this “thing” called policy, systems and environmental change.

Through these years we learned the fundamentals which have now become the foundation of the Healthy Communities movement. We learned that programs and policies could be deeply interwoven to create lasting change, that we could modify the physical environment to promote physical activity and healthy eating and the importance of leveraging resources and partnerships in achieving our outcomes.

I will be forever grateful for the opportunities that ALBD provided to me and the communities that I serve. Thank you for your passion, contributions and ongoing commitment to the cause. Congratulations to a decade of success! Back to Top

Kaye Reynolds

Kaye Reynolds1_compressed_0 Communications and Resource Director, City of Lenoir, NC

Without Active Living By Design, our Fit Community partnership would not have had the training opportunities or the resources to develop our vision for community gardening into a sustainable source of pride for our community. In fact, when our partnership first conducted our community assessment in preparation for applying for a Fit Community grant, it seemed doubtful that any physical project could make a significant difference in the poor health outcomes in Caldwell County. Thanks to Active Living By Design, we were provided technical assistance to develop skills in preparation, programming, and policy making that enabled our physical project, Unity Park and Community Gardens, to become a reality. We were provided opportunities to network with and to learn from other communities who share our passion for providing access to more healthy food choices to more of our citizens. We learned the importance of telling our story in order to build support for the work we are doing now and the work we hope to do in the future.

Finally, Active Living By Design helped us to identify resources, strategies, and the confidence in our partnership, to tell the story of our community gardens to the millions of people who read Parade magazine each week. When the announcement of a new manufacturing company’s decision to locate in Lenoir was made last week, the local newspaper quoted one of the executives at the company who said that the story about the gardens had helped convince his company to locate in Lenoir. Back to Top

Lucy Gomez-Feliciano

Lucy Gomez-Feliciano1_compressed_0Health Outreach Director
Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Chicago, IL

Thank you for believing and investing in me. This has truly been an education and a mission. You have been instrumental in who I am today, a darn good bridge engineer, my confidence has never been better, I am grounded. You have been a teacher, friend, cheerleader, and forever a part of our family, GRACIAS! When we get together, it is you, my co-padres and co-madres who encourage me, inspire me and keep me charged. You have all moved me! Back to Top

Ian Thomas

Ian Thomas1_compressed_0Executive Director
PedNet Coalition, Inc., Columbia, MO

PedNet was an all-volunteer, grassroots community group with a vision for an active transportation network in Columbia, when I received a call in 2002 from a nursing student I did not know. Libby Erkmann told me she had stopped at a cafe while biking on the MKT Trail, picked up a “new urbanism” magazine, and seen an announcement about an “Active Living by Design” grant opportunity – and could she write a draft of PedNet’s proposal for this grant for her class project?

Libby’s offer was too good to refuse and – amazingly – the final draft of her proposal was one of just twenty-five selected from a field of almost 1,000 to receive funding. It was the start of an amazing nine-year partnership with ALBD, which has channeled the friendship, encouragement, technical assistance, strategic advice, and funding PedNet needed to lead a transformation of Columbia’s street system and the ways Columbia residents think about transportation. Thank you for all you have done during this incredible relationship – none of the positive changes in Columbia would have been possible without it. Back to Top

Laureen Husband

Laureen Husband_compressed_0Director, Healthy Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL

Being part of Active Living By Design/Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities’ family has provided Jacksonville the “nudge” it needed to start aligning program development with long range policy implications. The team at ALBD and the rest of the HKHC community nationwide has provided a community of like-minded folks working on the same trajectory to change our nation and the dire health outcomes predicted in reports such as F as in FAT 2012. Through the team and their ability to link communities with what we need, when we need it, we are transforming our communities and daring what others might think “un-doable” to indelible actions for our children as well as adults making health the easy choice! In Jacksonville, we have seen the growth of school gardens, community gardens, farmers markets and a community of citizens interested in making changes to the food system who have come together under the Duval County Food Policy Council, which currently has 350 members. We have seen all vending machines being removed from all community centers for the vendors’ non-compliance to have healthy food options. We have seen the passage of the Mobility plan and have subsequently mounted a broad and successful advocacy initiative to oppose a moratorium imposed by city council to encourage development. We have seen the formation of a special subcommittee by city council to review context-sensitive streets, which has led to public works explaining the rationale for non-compliance related to missed opportunities to comply with mandates. Through ALBD, we have had conversations with numerous national experts such as Pancho Arguelles to engage our diverse Hispanic constituency on issues regarding identity and true community engagement to affect health outcomes. We feel empowered through this partnership to know that help is simply a phone call or an email away! Furthermore, we can dream big knowing that ALBD will be there to help us actualize our dreams because what we are all doing REALLY MATTERS! Back to Top

Melissa Watford

Health Education Specialist
FirstHealth Community Health Services, Pinehurst, NC

FirstHealth of the Carolinas, has benefited significantly from the technical expertise and support of the ALBD staff as both a Fit Community and as a HKHC grantee. Staff members have provided us with invaluable technical assistance that has put us on a path to addressing community health needs in innovative ways that we may not have otherwise have considered as a health system. The ALBD team has also helped us connect with communities across the nation that our undertaking similar work to share stories, successes and lessons learned. Because of our relationship with ALBD, FirstHealth has also strengthened partnerships with the planning community and opened our eyes to new approaches to improving the health of our community through policy, systems and environmental change. Back to Top

Julie Jackman

Julie Jackman1_compressed_0Working Toward Wellness Program Coordinator
Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte, NC

Active Living By Design was instrumental in helping to develop our community worksite wellness program, Working Toward Wellness. The knowledge of the staff and expertise in the design of sustainable programs helped guide us through the process of developing a program structure that has stood the test of time. Through challenging economic circumstances and leadership changes the Working Toward Wellness program has continued to provide resources, guidance and networking opportunities to the business community in Mecklenburg County. Thanks to the foundations laid in those developmental years, we have experienced continued growth in our program and look forward to many more years creating healthier work environments in our community. Back to Top

Kristen Wilson

Kristen Wilson1_compressed_0Healthy Kingston for Kids Project Director
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, Kingston, NY

As Healthy Kingston for Kids (HKK) Project Director at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) in Kingston, NY, I began partnering with Active Living By Design in 2009 when we became part of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) National Program. The partnership brought our local partners into the national active living and healthy eating networks, giving us access to tools, resources, and long-lasting personal and professional connections. Several of our local partners have attended the annual HKHC grantee meetings, and they always come back saying that it was one of most informative, top-notch, and well-coordinated conferences they have ever attended. The work planning process that HKHC has designed helps to keep our local partnership on target with our goals and hopes for our community when there are so many opportunities or challenges that could derail us.

I have especially appreciated the authentic conversations with ALBD staff about the challenges we face as a local partnership to take on this work. ALBD staff have helped to improve our local communications and outreach plan, navigate partnership difficulties, and connect us to other people around the nation who are taking on similar projects. I’ll never forget the suggestion from an ALBD staff member to investigate a chicken in Seattle who teaches pedestrian skills. That suggestion led me to riding my bike in a chicken suit to attend events and greet children on their way to school in Kingston on our first Walk, Bike, and Roll to School Day event, not something that I ever would have thought of doing! We also learned from ALBD about the Pea Patch program that runs a community garden on a Housing Authority site in the State of Washington. We were able to use that information to convince our housing authority to give us permission to start a community garden on one of our housing authority sites. The simple suggestions and connections from ALBD bring tremendous value to our community’s work.

I often feel we are working against the tide in the fight against childhood obesity, inactive lifestyles, and processed food. Partnering with ALBD has strengthened our local partnership and has helped me to feel part of a national movement that will bring us to a tipping point when, finally, one day, active living and healthy eating will become second nature for families and children again. Back to Top

Jeanie Jurado

jeannie juradoCommunity Services Supervisor
Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency, Santa Ana, CA

Santa Ana was able to accomplish so much during and since its Active Living by Design grant. For example, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency created a Fitness Map for each of the 5 SALUD sites in Santa Ana. Thousands of each map were printed and distributed to the community. The SALUD program and the Walk-A-Thon help inform Santa Ana residents of the meaning and importance of active-living. The SALUD program continues to offer walking clubs and fitness activities at various parks in Santa Ana.

Hundreds of Santa Ana residents who experienced active-living for 5 weeks received a Santa Ana Fitness Award. Three joint-use sites were created in Santa Ana, and brought the total to 7 sites – a collaboration between the City of Santa Ana and the Santa Ana Unified School District. Santa Ana also recently dedicated three new parks along the Santa Ana River, along with our first exercise park, adjacent to the Pacific Electric bike trail. Back to Top