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An Award for Wise Feminine Leadership

May 10, 2012

I must admit. Many of my clients are my “favorite” – they inspire me to no end. I learn from them every day we work together. Over the past 3 years I’ve been privileged to work with Deb Hubsmith the founder and Director of the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership as she tripled the size of her budget, staff, and the range of her work. Please join me in congratulating Deb, and The Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership, for receiving the Game Changer Award from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this week.

Deb is passionate and strategic, smart and visionary, intuitive and precise on details, scrappy and wise. With an interactive leadership style Deb builds consensus up front and all along the way, shares power and information to avert a crisis before it happens. She is comfortable with ambiguity, watching issues unfold, ready to respond when the time is right. She keeps her focus on what matters, while scanning with broad spectrum vision. She pays attention to the texture of the workplace as she develops and inspires her nationally based staff.  A communicator – her verbal agility and capacity to read subtle cues mean that she moves teams and causes through obstacles that seem insurmountable. A wise feminine leader!

Why is “safe routes” a critical issue? Think thriving self-reliant kids riding bikes and walking to school instead of being dependent on their parents to drive. Think liveable communities, less pollution, decreased obesity, and the kind of future we want to pass on to our children.

Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, first started her game changing efforts 15 years ago by working to improve bicycle and pedestrian routes to schools in Marin County, California. As awareness of childhood obesity grew, she took her local successes, passion and pioneering spirit to the national level and worked with Congress to create the federal Safe Routes to School program which is now established within the Departments of Transportation of all 50 states. More than 5 million children and 12,000 schools are already benefiting from more pedestrian and bicycle pathways as well as education programs.

Through her tireless efforts, Deb and The Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership ignited a national movement to make streets safer for kids to walk and bicycle to school and in daily life. Deb, her staff, and their more than 500 organizational partners, continue to show how Safe Routes to School can be a catalyst for bringing about system-wide built environment changes that increase physical activity and safety, building a healthier future for children and everyone.

Throughout developing a strategic plan that included input from almost a thousand stakeholders, evolving staffing structures, learning new leadership skills, strengthening teams, and strategic responses to complex changes, Deb is one of those clients motivated to make changes in herself and her organization. She turns on a dime when shown a better way to do something and is always ready to learn along with her talented Staff Director Team.

Thank you Deb for your fine work and dedication. It’s an honor to work with you.


Learn more about the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Deb Hubsmith at &

“The capabilities that made leaders successful in the past are unlikely to lead to success in the future. Leaders need to embrace new behaviors – but to do this they must first understand how the world has changed and how old ways can lead to business and personal obsolescence!” Annie McKee, Founder of  Teleosleadership;  Co-Author “Primal Leadership, “Resonant Leadership”

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 4, 2012 8:55 pm

    Thank you, Karen for all of your guidance and for your kind words.

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