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New Year, New Word

By Sarah Strunk on January 7th, 2015

Mahalo. It’s a Hawaiian term that communicates thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards or respects. Visitors to the islands quickly see how ubiquitous, yet authentic, this expression is and how easily it permeates one’s soul. Not surprisingly, then, spending nearly two weeks in the Aloha State over the holidays gave me a unique opportunity to reflect on Active Living By Design’s work in 2014 and to think about the future from this perspective.

In early 2014, ALBD became affiliated with Third Sector New England (TSNE) to better meet the needs of a growing healthy communities movement. With a shifting funding environment and tremendous growth in local expertise, it was important to adapt our business model to better serve a maturing field.

Such transitions—no, transformations—don’t happen overnight. Nor do they occur without the support of many people linking arms and taking leaps of faith. I’m grateful to our funding partners, national foundations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and state-based philanthropies like the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Along with many others, their support prior to and during the past year has given us opportunities to test new models and expand beyond our traditional focus on active living and healthy eating. I also have deep admiration and respect for the ALBD team, a passionate, committed, nimble, mighty group of eleven, whose commitment to healthy community change and belief in the future of ALBD allowed us to maintain our entire staff during our transition, ensuring that we retained the institutional memory and expertise we’d been building for more than 12 years.

We’re now 11 months into this process of organizational change, and in many ways we’re the same ALBD. We’re still focused on advancing the field by supporting funders and coaching healthy communities leaders. We’re still convening learning networks and trainings to connect people, communities and resources. We continue to serve as active field builders through our participation in boards, task forces, conference planning committees, proposal reviews and more. We remain committed to “walking the talk” by integrating active living, healthy eating and the values that serve as the foundation of ALBD’s culture into our personal and professional lives.

At the same time, we continue to evolve, just as we have since our inception in 2002. We’re providing more and expanded capacity-building support to nonprofit organizations and partnerships, working with them on coalition development, strategic planning and sustainability planning. We’ve engaged new funders, such as conversion foundations, in program assessment and design. And we’re focusing more broadly on population health with new initiatives addressing community-centered health homes and those that are building a culture of health across the nation.

I feel blessed to have partnered with so many passionate, smart and inspiring people, and I look forward to further collaboration with current and new colleagues. In keeping with the New Year’s spirit, bookmark our website for new resources and updates on our projects and initiatives. Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to see what’s abuzz. And please don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the ALBD team to talk about how we can deepen our work together or start something new in 2015.


Sarah Strunk

Strategic Advisor

Healthy communities networker, integrator and distance runner on the go.