Press Release - Local Advocate Receives National Award

Local Advocate Receives National Award from America Walks
Theresa Vallez-Kelly to participate in "Walkable Communities" training program

REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. – America Walks, a national advocacy organization that promotes walking and walkable communities, announced yesterday that Theresa Vallez-Kelly, Safe Routes to School coordinator with the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE), has been awarded a Walking College Fellowship.

The Fellowship will enable Vallez-Kelly and 23 other advocates from around the country to participate in a four-month training program designed to strengthen local efforts to make communities more walkable. "We are delighted to welcome Theresa Vallez-Kelly as a member of our 2017 Walking College class," said Ian Thomas, State and Local Program Director with America Walks. "This program was developed in response to our findings that access to technical assistance and a national peer network are among the most pressing needs for advocates working at the local level."

Vallez-Kelly will complete a six-module distance-education training program this summer and participate in the National Walking Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota in September. "We are thrilled Theresa has been selected as a Walking Fellow and will represent San Mateo County in this national initiative," said Nancy Magee, associate superintendent at the San Mateo County Office of Education. "Any opportunity we have to advocate for the importance of safe corridors that can also reduce traffic and improve our environment is a win for all of us." SMCOE partners with San Mateo County’s City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) to sponsor Safe Routes to School, a countywide initiative that works with local school districts to improve student safety when walking and biking to school. 

Now in its third year, the Walking College curriculum has been designed to expand the capacity of local advocates to be effective community change agents. Topics include the science behind the benefits of walking, evaluation of built environments, as well as communication skills and building relationships with stakeholders and decision makers.

At the conclusion of the Walking College program in November, Fellows will develop a Walking Action Plan for improving walkability in their communities.

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About The Walking College: The Walking College is supported with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association. Mentoring will be provided by national leaders in the field, including representatives of WalkBoston, the Walkable and Livable Communities (WALC) Institute, Urban Health Partnerships and MIG Inc. More info at

About America Walks: America Walks is the only national organization devoted exclusively to making America a great place to walk. America Walks consists of a network of more than 700 partner and allied organizations, working to increase walking and create more safe, accessible and inclusive places to walk. Programs include on-line technical assistance, community-based workshops, convenings such as the National Walking Summit, federal advocacy initiatives and increasing financial resources for local action. America Walks also maintains the Every Body Walk! Collaborative, a national partnership focused on increasing the visibility of walking and cultivating consumer demand for more walkable places. More info at

About the San Mateo County Office of Education: The San Mateo County Office of Education is dedicated to serving the county's 23 school districts in a shared mission to deliver a top-rate educational experience for our more than 95,000 students. Our dedicated and professional staff works collaboratively with districts, schools and a diverse array of community partners to eliminate barriers to learning. More info at