Alumnae Feature: Dr. Sue Schneider

Sue SchneiderDr. Sue Schneider’s career as an applied anthropologist has brought her new opportunities to learn and allowed her to impact the lives and well being of the communities in which she has lived and worked. Her interests have always included community health, prevention and health promotion, and her
dissertation research at MSU reflected those interests: she examined women’s grassroots health organizing in Mexico, and the strategies of health promoters as they merged different healing traditions within their communities. She published a book on this research, titled “Mexican Community Health and the Politics of Health Reform” (2010). Now, she works as an applied anthropologist with Larimer County Extension at Colorado State University (CSU) where she promotes community health and well-being herself! (Although the circumstances are much different from what she studied in Mexico.)
After graduating from MSU, Dr. Schneider held a teaching postdoc at Moravian College, but came to the decision that she really wanted to do applied work with communities. She took a position at Duke University in the Division of Community Health, running a program called Durham Health Innovations. The focus was on addressing health disparities, and she was able to put her community organizing skills into action conducting neighborhood-level interventions in chronic disease prevention. While at Duke, she also pursued training and certification as an integrative health coach and began a private consulting practice working with physicians within the medical center. After stepping into the throes of motherhood, she adjusted her career more towards her private coaching practice in order to better maintain her own wellness.

In 2015 she moved to Fort Collins, Colorado with her family and began working for CSU Extension, where she builds community programming and provides education in Larimer County. After conducting a needs assessment, she has focused her work largely on healthy aging and age-friendly communities. One grant she helped write funded a program called Senior Access Points, which is creating a county-wide network and outreach strategies to better connect individuals and their families with aging-related resources. Another grant funds work to support the self-care of grandparents raising their grandchildren. She also draws on her certification as a health coach to provide community-based training on topics such as behavior change and mindfulness.

Fort Collins is a community full of motivated people, so the impacts of her work are gratifyingly easy to see. Dr. Schneider especially enjoys bringing practical strategies and resources to people who are struggling with stress and everyday life challenges. “Grandparents are suffering because the conditions that cause them to need to step in and raise their grandkids tend to be devastating,” she says. “It is powerful to see them get support.”
Dr. Schneider identifies herself as a lifelong learner, and her career has in many ways been a
“winding road” full of interesting surprises. For new anthropology graduates, Dr. Schneider suggests keeping your curiosity alive and pursuing what you find interesting and what makes you happy. “We can create new spaces for Anthropologists, but we have to be a little bit fearless about it and trust the value that we bring.” Dr. Schneider credits Dr. Linda Hunt for helping her understand and appreciate the value of applied anthropology, although all of her mentors offered unique and helpful lessons and supported her throughout her studies. She also appreciates the solid foundation in anthropological theory and training that she got through the department.
This summer, Dr. Schneider will be stepping in as Interim Director of Larimer County Extension, and looks forward to getting a chance to see a larger horizon from that position.

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