Photos © sarahmarcellacreative.com
What is Girls on the Run?
GOTR is a unique life skills development program. Volunteer coaches lead teams through interactive lessons that include dynamic discussions, fun activities and creative running games. Throughout the 10 week season season the girls make new friends, learn new skills, build their confidence and celebrate what makes them unique in a safe and supportive environment.
What inspired you to become the Program Director for Girls on the Run?
I first got involved with GOTR in the winter of 2012 when a Steering Committee was formed to bring Girls on the Run to Maine. At that time, Maine was one of a small group of states that did not have a council so a group of volunteers worked together to make it happen. I worked as a volunteer for about a year and was able to help build the foundation of the council. In my role as Program Director I now help communities start teams in their area, recruit, train and support the coaches, visit with the teams throughout the season, and help to plan the Celebratory 5k at the end of the season. This season we have 700 girls at 38 sites across Maine with over 200 volunteer coaches. We look forward to continuing our growth and reaching more girls!
Working for Girls on the Run has had a significant impact on my life. The work that I do is so fulfilling because I have such a strong connection to the mission of our program of empowering girls and helping them to grow and reach their goals. I also feel so grateful to the amazing co-workers and volunteers that I get to work with each season.
What is one challenge and one lesson you've learned from your experience as Program Director?
One challenge that I have faced is that every community and every team is different so what might work well for one site, might be completely different at another, so we have to build connections with all of our coaches to make sure that they get the support that they need.
One lesson that I have learned actually stems from one of our core values which is to "assume positive intent." We are all involved because we want to have a positive influence on the girls and though logistically sometimes things don't always go according to plan, we should assume that their are good intentions behind the actions.
What are your top two GOTR memories?
I have so many amazing memories but there are a few standouts.
I was visiting with a team in Western Maine and as I was completing some laps with one girl, we were having fun and chatting and then unprompted she looked at me directly in the eye and said "Thank you for bringing this program to my school. I love being a part of it and I am so proud of myself." We know the program is having an impact but to hear a 9 year old girl share her sincere gratitude was a special moment.
The other top memory is one that I have seen multiple times at our 5k events At the end of the 10 weeks, the girls participate in an untimed, celebratory 5k. When the girls enter the final finish line chute they typically get a burst of speed. I love watching that moment when they see their goal in sight. They hear the cheers and support and fly through that finish line. The look in their eyes is one of joy and inspiration and I can never get enough of it!
What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?
"The only requirement of having a dream is believing in it." - Molly Barker
Molly Barker founded Girls on the Run in North Carolina in 1996 with one team of girls. Since then the organization has grown to serve girls in all 50 states and more than 1 million girls have participated. She is a true inspiration to me by demonstrating that one person really can make a difference. For many years I was unsure where I was headed in terms of a career path and the moment I first learned about GOTR was a truly life changing experience for me - I knew this was something I had to be involved in. Because of Molly's initial effort, she has given me (and so many other woman), a place in this world to have an impact and to be a part of the mission of inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.
In one word, describe yourself::