Healthiest State Initiative to host annual conference presented by Iowa State University on walking and walkability

posted on Tuesday, April 12, 2016

DES MOINES, IA (April 12, 2016) – On May 19, the Healthiest State Initiative is bringing Iowans together to step it up — both literally and figuratively. Presented by Iowa State University, the theme for this year’s Healthiest State Initiative annual conference is “Step It Up Iowa,” with the help of key sponsors including Amerigroup Iowa, Inc., Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and America Walks.

National walkability experts and leaders in Iowa communities will discuss the benefits of walking for all Iowans. Keynote speakers include: Dr. Pam White, Dean of the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University; Ann Mansfield, Project Director at the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative; and Rear Admiral Jose Belardo, Regional Health Administrator with the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“In order to become the healthiest state in the nation, sustained transformation requires changes in policies, built environment and social networks,” said Laura Jackson, Executive Vice President of Health Care Innovation and Business Development at Wellmark and board president of the Healthiest State Initiative. “Focusing on an effort to increase walking and walkability within our communities allows us to engage all Iowans in shifting our culture that supports health and well-being and ultimately moving us closer to becoming the healthiest state in the nation.” In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference will include five breakout sessions covering various topics including multimodal transportation, existing walkability resources, lessons learned from communities making walkability a priority, and the social and health benefits of walking.

“At the Department of Health and Human Services, enhancing and protecting the well-being of all Americans is our top priority,” said Rear Admiral Jose Baldaro, Regional Health Administrator for the US Department of Health and Human Services. “Walking and walkability in our communities nationwide is at the forefront of that mission.”

To register and view a full list of speakers and panel participants, visit


The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based, community-focused effort. For more information, visit