August 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: Girls on the Run Chicago

Are you interested in a cause that helps young girls chase their dreams? Maybe you’re interested in running for a leadership position? Girls on the Run is a well-established board which, for the past 10 years, has allowed young professionals to fundraise, volunteer and raise awareness for a program that empowers young girls.  CharityScenes recently had the privilege of speaking with Alice Kovacik, staff liaison to the board, and Abigail Vallicelli. Abigail has been on the Associate Board since 2010, serving as President of the Board for the past year and recently having handed over the reins to another experienced board member, Meghan Boland.

Tell us about Girls on the Run-Chicago

Abigail: Girls on the Run is a great organization that provides programming to young girls. The focus is as much on building self-confidence and inspiring girls as it is on the running itself. The girls work together through a variety of activities, and our 12 week curriculum culminates with each girl running a 5k.  

Tell us about the board members and what each member’s responsibility is.

Alice: Board members are asked to pay $50 in dues as well as meet the give/get of $500 and meet a volunteer hour commitment. Each member sits on a committee (membership, social, events, or public relations) and is asked to serve for 2 years. Members are given a number of opportunities to volunteer at the organization’s annual 5k events and are invited to volunteer in other capacities periodically throughout their tenure.

Abigail: Our members range in age from right out of school to early 40s. Some of our members have their own families and we recently had a fundraiser that was geared towards families with younger kids. (It was very successful!). Right now, our board of about 40 members is all women, but we’re definitely open to having men on the board! It’s also important to note that our board members come from a variety of professional backgrounds, so it’s been a beneficial networking tool for members.

Are all the board members serious runners?

Alice: Some are serious runners, but I think it would be more accurate to say a good number of our board members are casual runners. I was not a runner before joining Girls on the Run as a staff member and now really enjoy it! More importantly, though, people are drawn to the board for the mission, which is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

What types of opportunities are available to board members?

Alice: All members are a part of a committee, so there is an opportunity to develop skills in an area you are familiar with, or alternatively, gain new skills in an area you are not familiar with. Each year board members are given the opportunity to switch committees (but are not required to) in order to try something new.  We found that to be a good exercise as people were asked to be a little more creative by adopting a new role. Other opportunities for board members include supporting our staff with distributing program materials to our volunteer coaches, overseeing a group of volunteers at our 5k events, and visiting program sites across the Chicagoland area.

Abigail: There are fun opportunities too! We’ve had some really fun (and sold out) events in the past – tour of Lagunitas Brewery, bags tournament, March Madness events, etc. We have also been given exposure to the board of directors in the past, so that has been a beneficial experience as well.

What else should we know about Girls on the Run?

Alice: And you should know that applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so we’re open to new members at any time.

Now don’t all race to apply at once!