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Last Thursday, what we call “The Big Room” here at the GOTR Triangle office was occupied by 6 women from different walks of life. During the day, they are elementary school teachers, middle school social workers, health administrators, and retired grandmothers. After work hours, they are all fierce advocates for Girls on the Run. These women volunteer for GOTR as site liaisons, meaning that they help us secure coaches for their GOTR site, market the program to potential participants, and coordinate with staff to make sure that programming is delivered without a hitch. Our site liaisons are an important aspect in our chain of service delivery.

The programming department invited these women to a focus group to discuss best practices on topics such as marketing, coach recruitment, scholarships, and other successes. The idea was to crowdsource and hear from the “experts” – even if they are volunteers and not staff! One of the first things my supervisor told me was that while we have a small staff (just 10!), we actually have a huge workforce. This workforce, though, is comprised almost entirely of volunteers serving in different capacities: coaches, site liaisons, board members, committee members, office volunteers, 5k running buddies, and more. Here at Girls on the Run, we recognize that we couldn’t do our work without our volunteers, so we treat them with the utmost respect and appreciation.

A big part of this atmosphere of respect is reaching out to our volunteers when we need their help. Not just in terms of manpower, but also in terms of thinking creatively. National Urban Fellows has an Inclusive Leadership Model, which the organization describes as an essential aspect of effective leadership. They define inclusive leadership as: “the practice of leadership that carefully includes the contributions of all stakeholders in the community or organization. Inclusion means being at the table at all levels of the organization, being a valued contributor, and being fully responsible for your contribution to the ultimate result. Inclusive leadership creates an organizational culture that consistently produces results that benefit all of those stakeholders.” I wholeheartedly agree that this model is absolutely crucial to leading effectively, not only as an individual but also as an organization. Although it’s not what we call it here, GOTR abides by this model on a day-to-day basis. Our volunteers often have unique insights and contributions that are vital to our success – and we certainly take advantage of that knowledge!

The site liaisons who attended this focus group are simply some of the best advocates for GOTR. They know that so many girls can benefit from the programming we provide and, thus, donate substantial amounts of their time to make sure people know about Girls on the Run. They see the impact of the GOTR curriculum and work tirelessly to get the word out about this incredible organization. They truly live by the Girls on the Run value to “stand up for ourselves and others.” It is inspiring to see the dedication of these women who volunteer their precious time to improve the lives of girls in our community.

The opinions expressed here are solely my opinions. Content published here is not read or approved by Girls on the Run® International and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Girls on the Run® International. 

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