Girls on the Run!

Molly Barker, MSW and four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete dreams big. Mother of two and founder of Girls on the Run, Molly has brought to life her dream of empowering girls and helping them see themselves in a whole new light.

Molly Barker, MSW and four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete dreams big. Mother of two and founder of Girls on the Run, Molly has brought to life her dream of empowering girls and helping them see themselves in a whole new light.

Molly Barker


City / State
Charlotte, North Carolina

What was your big dream?
To provide an exciting and authentic alternative to the "Girl Box" a phrase we've coined at Girls on the Run. The "Girl Box" is that space girls go around middle school where we say farewell to the really cool girl we are and morph into what we think our culture wants us to be. While the manifestation of the "Girl Box" varies, it crosses all socioeconomic levels and generations

How did you accomplish it?
I started Girls on the Run in 1996, three years after my own personal exodus from the "Girl Box". I was 33 when I climbed out of the dreaded box and knew that my life's calling was to help girls never feel as if they had to go in!

Where did you find inspiration to get started?
I struggled for many years with a number of "Girl Box" issues: Low self-esteem and low self-worth. This was evident to those around me, but not evident to me until I hit a very dark depression in my early 30's. On July 7, 1993, I set out on a run and had an epiphany that literally forced me out of the "Girl Box" and into the life that I now joyously live.

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What motivated you to keep going?
Having my own two children was and continues to be the motivation for what I do. Once I became a mother, I simply could not look at the world's children without feeling an inherent and strong need to nurture. Every time my children (11 and 8 years old) make a wise decision OR make one that isn't so wise, but learn from it, I am reminded that the work I am doing is impacting the world...at multiple levels, personally and globally.

What's your next Big Dream?
To leave this world, knowing that Girls on the Run is accessible to ALL girls and has become a global rite of passage for every 8 to 11 year old girl.

When you were 5 what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher

What about when you were 15?
A veterinarian

Now, what do you want to be when you grow up?
I am living it.

What book is on your night stand?
The Definitive Book of Body Language

What's your Guilty Pleasure? (Grey's Anatomy, Peppermint Mocha Lattes)
Starbucks Coffee with cream and sugar and those little Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. But I don't feel guilty about them.

What song moves you?
Evanescence's "Good Enough"


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