Founder of Safe Routes to School National Partnership Passes


Deb Hubsmith, founder of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has died after a nearly two-year fight with acute myeloid leukemia, the organization confirmed. She was 46.

deb hubsmithDeb HubsmithShe resigned her post as executive director of the National Partnership last September. In 2005, Hubsmith founded the Safe Routes to School National Partnership in order to promote healthy and active lifestyles for children by encouraging safe walking and biking to school. Congress had formed a federal program that year, allocating $1.1 billion for SRTS programs throughout the country.  She had previously helped lead the development of a SRTS pilot program in Marin County, California. According to the organization’s website, Hubsmith also helped create the first statewide program in California.

The first federally sponsored SRTS programs began in 1997 in the Bronx, New York, and a year later Congress funded two pilot programs through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The program has since been turned over to individual states.

“During her tenure as director, Deb testified before congressional committees about the benefits of Safe Routes to School, served as an inspiring keynote speaker at numerous events, and co-led the California advocacy campaign and coalition that secured the new $130 million per year Active Transportation Program, “ SRTS said in a statement.

She also worked with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services to request 10 percent of federal SRTS funding go toward improving pedestrian access to school bus stops.

Hubsmith was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2013 and stepped down from her role as the organization’s executive director a year later in order to focus on her health.

“To honor and support both my own recovery and the future of the organization that I founded and love, I am stepping down as director, I am very happy that I received this second chance at life, and I look forward to continuing to be of service to children, communities and the environment as a board member and a consultant to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership,” she said at the time.

“As we mourn Deb’s passing, let us also celebrate the legacy of her life. And, more than that, let us mirror her passionate and collaborative spirit to keep the momentum going; each of us doing our part to improve our neighborhood, city, county, state, and nation until ALL children are able to be healthy and active, every day, for the rest of their lives,” said Risa Wilkerson, board chair of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.