Joel Spoonheim

About Joel Spoonheim


Joel Spoonheim is Healthways’ director of the Healthways | Blue Zones Vitality City initiative. A leader in community transformation, he has worked for city governments, a food manufacturer, healthcare companies, and non-profits directing major initiatives that require engaging diverse stakeholders and complex problem solving.

The Healthways Blue Zones Vitality City initiative is currently transforming three adjacent cities in California. Vitality City coordinates 10-15 concurrent initiatives to change people’s daily environments to make healthy choices easy. The initiative strives to improve well-being – physical, social, and emotional health, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. In 2009, Spoonheim led the first pilot to prove a saturation strategy, the AARP Blue Zones Vitality Project in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Mr. Spoonheim’s approach grows out of over 15 years of community development experience, including six years as a planner for the City of St. Paul, Minnesota and three years as the Economic and Redevelopment Director for the City of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. In these cities he led projects to transform some of the toughest neighborhoods, build new affordable housing, create new jobs, and reduce crime. Spoonheim also co-founded a non-profit and for 12 years trained emerging leaders how to improve the places where they live and work.

About this presentation – You make me sick. How healthy communities create healthy individuals.

Joel Spoonheim talks about the work he is doing to create new Blue Zones and specifically the processes that he is using to transform communities into healthier places to live. He builds on the idea that we should stop just treating individual patients and shift some of our focus onto changing the environment that patients live in. He closes with a plea that as individuals we should demand healthy choices, help create them and select them once they are available. 

Joel holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelors degree from Luther College. Spoonheim is married and has a daughter.

Source: TedX Manhattan Beach