238: Kayla Nolan on Leading Girls Gotta Run Foundation

“It’s really cool to see women solve; identify and solve their own problems because women are so resilient and powerful and hard working and humble and just incredible problem solvers and they will never quit in pursuing the resolution of the challenges that they find when given these opportunities.”
Kayla Nolan

Kayla Nolan is a runner and the Executive Director of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF). Girls Gotta Run Foundation is a non-profit organization that invests in girl changemakers in Ethiopia through an academic and athletic scholarship program. Kayla started running in high school as part of a coping mechanism, and later joined the Cross Country team after encouragement from another high school girl who had seen her running alone.. Kayla’s love for running grew, and she was presented with an opportunity to study running after gaining a research scholarship in college. After Kenya was ruled out due to political violence, she had a choice between Jamaica or Ethiopia. Feeling she would relate better to Ethiopia’s endurance runners, she took the first step in a journey that would evolve into so much more. This conversation was recorded in early March, when Kayla and Julia were premiering their film, Bekoji 100 at the No Man’s Land Film Festival in Denver, Colorado. Since the festival, Kayla has announced that she will be transitioning from executive director to the board of GGRF over the next year. 

*This conversation was recorded in early March 2020 prior to the COVID-19 situation and her thoughts and comments regarding the upcoming months reflect that

This powerful conversation covers the following topics:
  • Kayla’s early introduction to running via her mother
  • Her high school and college experiences and how that led to her research scholarship
  • Her first trip to Ethiopia and the challenges she faced
  • Her first contact with runners from Bekoji, Ethiopia
  • Her early experiences with GGRF
  • Her involvement with GGRF and how that has grown and evolved
  • The importance of community engagement and buy-in
  • Female empowerment and how to nurture that
  • The Bekoji 100 relay, and all the challenges that came with that endeavour
  • The Bekoji 100 film 
  • What the future looks like for GGRF

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