John Bilderback Joins Thrive Regional Partnership As Program Director For Natural Treasures Impact Area

Tuesday, July 5, 2022
John Bilderback
John Bilderback
John Bilderback has joined the Thrive Regional Partnership team as program director for the Natural Treasures Impact Area. He brings two decades of experience in public health and collaborative community initiatives that have informed policies and improved neighborhood environments that support better food access and active living opportunities for their residents.

In his former role with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, Mr. Bilderback acquired and managed a $350,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The work during this grant empowered residents to identify healthy food access solutions, increase physical activity opportunities and strengthen community leadership capacity.

One of Mr. Bilderback’s proudest accomplishments was facilitating the revitalization of Milliken Park in the Alton Park neighborhood of Chattanooga. This resident-led collaboration with the City of Chattanooga secured a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant for the restoration of the park in an area where little green space was available for the recreation of its residents.

Underlying Mr. Bilderback’s achievements is foundational expertise in data analysis and evaluation. These skills of interpreting data, assessing needs and identifying opportunities enhance programs and policies while empowering communities to realize their vision, officials said. 

Using geospatial technology to identify areas of need and potential impact, he worked with the Hamilton County Department of Education to develop a county-wide “Open Use Policy.” This first-of-its-kind policy opened all elementary school playgrounds after school hours to the public, improving access to green space by 210 acres in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. 

Mr. Bilderback also used data to identify area food deserts in Chattanooga, leading to the creation of the Chattanooga Mobile Market with the YMCA, Chattanooga Area Food Bank and residents from East and South Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Mobile Market has brought fresh, healthy foods to underserved communities across the city since 2012. 

"In his role at Thrive, John will collaborate with teams of stakeholders to design strategies and coordinate research that sustain the natural assets of the region, which strengthen our economic vitality and community character, as well as improve the health of people and the places we call home," officials said.

Outside of Thrive Regional Partnership, Mr. Bilderback also serves as the chair of the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority’s board of directors, a member of the River City Company board of directors, and on the Transportation Planning Organization executive board. 

Mr. Bilderback grew up on a dairy farm in Sweetwater, and is a graduate of Sweetwater High School. He moved to Chattanooga to attend UTC, where he completed his B.S. and M.S. degrees. While in college, he met his wife Riann, and together they have one son Ben. Mr. Bilderback enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, visiting the farm and attending University of Tennessee sporting events.

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