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Team from Albuquerque among Nine in Nation Selected to Attend National Walkability Conference

walking(Albuquerque – January 25, 2018) - A group of six-individuals from Albuquerque received word last week that they were among nine interdisciplinary regional teams selected to attend the 2018 Step It Up!: Action Institute to Increase Walking and Walkability, also known as the Walkability Action Institute (WAI) in Decatur, Georgia, this April.

“This is a tremendous honor for us – not to mention a great opportunity to share best practices and learn about the latest methods being used to promote walkable communities,” said Valerie Hermanson, Transportation Planner with the Mid-Region Council of Governments.

The purpose of the WAI is to prepare interdisciplinary teams from metropolitan planning organization regions to pursue policy, systems, and environmental supports for walking and walkability. This action institute will provide teams with the most up-to-date academic and applied learning methods, and will reinforce and support implementation of significant national public health policy statements promoting walking and walkability, such as Step It Up! -- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. 

Applicant team members were required to demonstrate representation from a variety of fields (public health, planning, transportation, and elected officials). The Albuquerque team is made of the following members:

  • Valerie Hermanson – Mid-Region Council of Governments
  • Sarah Ijadi – Mid-Region Council of Governments
  • Councilor Isaac Benton, City of Albuquerque, City Council
  • Andrew Varoz, City of Albuquerque, Department of Municipal Development
  • Tatiana Falcón Rodriguez, Presbyterian Center for Community Health
  • Bernadette Hardy, International District Healthy Communities Coalition

Team members also had to demonstrate past, current, and future ability to influence walkable community design through high-level policy, systems and environmental activities. 

“We are thrilled because this opportunity will allow us to build on our existing collaboration through the Healthy Here Initiative, which includes Presbyterian, MRCOG, Bernalillo County and other partners,” said Tatiana Falcón Rodriguez, Community Health Manager, Presbyterian Center for Community Health. “In 2014, we were awarded a four-year $3.6 million cooperative agreement focused on active living, healthy eating, and linking clinical providers and community members in under resourced Albuquerque neighborhoods. Improving walkability in these areas is a key piece of this work and essential to sustainability.”

“Over the last several years, we’ve been working collectively through policy and projects to improve our built environment for walking… this effort will enable us to take it to the next level,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton, City of Albuquerque. 

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) seeks to strengthen state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control in states and nationally. The 2018 Walkability Action Institute Teams were selected in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s (NCCDPHP) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO). For more information about NACDD, visit

Contact: Augusta Meyers, Communications Mgr., MRCOG, (505) 239-8612, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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