GOTR’s BIPOC Group Finds Strength Through Connectedness
Girls on the Run is committed to advancing and elevating our commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA). As an organization, we strive to celebrate connectedness and embrace our differences. To foster a sense of belonging and inclusion where individuals can authentically engage with one another across our organization, GOTR launched national affinity groups which we call Strength Through Connectedness (STC) groups. And, as of 2023, we currently have two STC groups: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQIA+.
The purpose of Strength Through Connectedness groups mirrors traditional Employee Resource Groups and provides a peer-led network within the organization where employees connect based on shared characteristics, experiences or goals. The groups offer a chance to network and socialize, pursue personal and professional development, and to raise awareness of relevant issues in a safe, supported space. Most importantly, these are spaces to center the voices of our organization’s most historically marginalized individuals.
All throughout 2023, we are excited to spotlight these groups, their committed members and the impact they are making here at Girls on the Run. So, in conjunction with Black History Month, we are pleased to kick off this series by introducing several members of the BIPOC STC group to you! Get to know more about this group and how it is empowering our staff members and organization as a whole month after month.
What motivates your involvement with the BIPOC STC Group?
“My background is an important part of my identity, and it can still feel challenging to make sure that part of me remains authentically present in all aspects of my life. That can be especially challenging in a professional space, so I was excited to see that GOTR recognized the value in having a space for that to exist for BIPOC staff.” – Candice, Girls on the Run Georgia
“The collective of BIPOC experiences to gather and connect.” – Cat, Girls on the Run Minnesota
“Being able to have a safe, welcoming, and supportive space/community with people that I relate to.” – Maya Bui, Girls on the Run Puget Sound
“I wanted to connect with colleagues at other councils. I liked the idea of having a place to develop professionally and have casual, supportive conversations.” – Amechi, Girls on the Run Georgia
What impact has the BIPOC STC group had on your life personally?
“It has been great to connect with and learn from others. Because we don’t exist in a monolith, it’s been so cool to hear about different lived experiences and intersections while still connecting in so many ways. The icing on the cake was getting to meet so many people in person at Summit!” – Candice, Girls on the Run Georgia
“This group has made me feel seen in my experiences and it has also exposed me to other perspectives as well.” – Maya Bui, Girls on the Run Puget Sound
“I have learned the value of having a village as an adult. It’s nice to have a safe space to grow professionally. Personally, the BIPOC STC has shown me that people thrive in spaces that are positive, encouraging, and real. We invite brave conversations and try to create a space where everyone feels heard, seen, and valued. As a Black woman, I have often been in spaces where my expertise is questioned or ignored. The BIPOC STC group has helped me to know that I am not alone in those experiences. It has encouraged me to keep going and the speak up and speak out especially when others can benefit from my perspective.” – Amechi, Girls on the Run Georgia
“It’s been great getting to connect with BIPOC folks who are familiar and understand the GOTR experience and day to day.” – Cat, Girls on the Run Minnesota
What changes have you noticed since Girls on the Run implemented the BIPOC group? What changes are you looking forward to seeing in the future?
“I’ve noticed that BIPOC members feel like our meetings are a safe space and sometimes a place to decompress from the busy work week. Our meetings are a time to exhale and not worry about the rigor of the workday. It’s refreshing and I can see that it has been a value-add for my GOTR experience thus far. I believe the STC groups will help to strengthen the organization as a whole through our connectedness. Changes I would like to see in the future is more visibility of the STC group. This month’s blog post will help with that. I would also like to see feedback stem from the BIPOC group and blossom at the council level within HQ. I think GOTR has some work to do in terms of Black men and women in leadership roles and I would love for our STC group to be a place where talent can be nurtured and supported.” – Amechi, Girls on the Run Georgia
“Since I just started at GOTR and attending these meetings, I am not yet aware of the changes.” – Maya Bui, Girls on the Run Puget Sound
“I hope to work more closely with other councils and with GOTR HQ to make our programs and processes more equitable and impactful for BIPOC participants, volunteers, and staff in every area of our work, from marketing to development to training and programming and beyond.” – Candice, Girls on the Run Georgia
Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. What does Black History Month mean to you?
“In my experience, blackness is celebrated 24/7, 365, however, that is not always the case in our society. BHM is a time where our country publicly acknowledges the impact that Black culture has had on American culture. We showcase and celebrate Black excellence, all aspects of the Black experience, and most importantly Black joy.” – Candice, Girls on the Run Georgia
“Black History Month to me means celebrating and amplifying the voices, stories, experiences, and triumphs of the Black Community. It is also a time to reflect on the anti-blackness within our lives/communities and finding ways to dismantle these systems. Black History IS U.S. history, and we should be CONSTANTLY acknowledging the experiences and stories of the Black community all the time, not just one month a year.” – Maya Bui, Girls on the Run Puget Sound
“Black History Month to me is about being in community with the people in my life and uplifting Black communities. It also means the call for systems change. I continue to see the disparities and I’m tired.” – Cat, Girls on the Run Minnesota
“As a child I participated in Black History quiz bowls, so I understand the impact knowing my heritage has had on my development and success as an adult. Black History is a HUGE part of U.S. History. I think it is easy to think of Black History as a secondary thing, but it literally is a part of the foundation of our country and every institution we have. Black History is a reminder, declaration and freedom song of the ingenuity, perseverance, and talent of African Americans. At GOTR, I am reminded of how celebrating BHM aligns with the GOTR core values. Two core values stand out especially: Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness and Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions. Celebrating BHM at GOTR is about recognizing the contributions of Black women and men, and celebrating the potential of our young Black girls who will become the history makers of the future.” – Amechi, Girls on the Run Georgia