Hi, I’m Morgan, I’m the co-creator of: The largest health movement for Black women in the country. We call it Girltrek.
Home base: Washington D.C., by way of the Mississippi Delta.
10 years ago: I was solving for what felt like a private challenge: How do I prioritize my health so I can survive to honor the women who came before me?
Now, I say: It’s a shared challenge — shared by GirlTrek co-founder Vanessa Garrison and 200,000 other women who are taking action to live their healthiest, most fulfilled life, and encourage others to do the same.
Surprising fact: Black women are dying younger and at higher rates than any other American demographic from obesity-related disease — 8 out of 10 of us are over a healthy weight. This is devastating and has a ripple effect across society.
GirlTrek’s success depends on: All the raucous college students and badass aunties who are organizing walking groups in hundreds of cities — and creating a new culture of health. The lifetime cost of treating obesity via the health care system: $13,000 per adult on average. GirlTrek has this down to $67 per woman. The future of health care is culture change.
Top of mind trend: Funders looking past single issues, and investing in system change. This is new — and courageous. I used to joke that if the Civil Rights movement had been set up as a non-profit in the ‘60s, it would have collapsed for lack of funding. Today, people are tuning into the dynamism of people working together, also the complexity of issues. For example: Loneliness is more deadly than cigarette smoking, crime plummets when communities are engaged, education outcomes improve when mothers are healthy. GirlTrek is solving for all of these. Old-school funders called that mission creep. Venture capitalists call it efficiency.
Changemakers who inspire me: Nedgine Paul who is reforming education in Haiti. Wagari Maathai who mobilized Kenya’s women to plant 50 million trees. And Ella Baker in the U.S.— she was an organizer, didn’t care anything about spotlight, yet she was behind every major speech and action of the Civil Rights movement. Her day calendar was out of control!
My learning curve: Building coalitions. Bringing people together. Taking my blinders off. I just walked 100 miles of the Underground Railway with 10 GirlTrek leaders. What a reset — and a way to see the country up close. Both the generosity of America and the threats we face around division. It fired me up. And left me thinking: The most radical thing any of us can do is walk. We need to move at a human pace so we can see each other.
On my playlist: My go-to game time songs: Great Work by Brian Courtney Wilson and Ella’s Song by Sweet Honey in the Rock. This morning I sent Vanessa One Day at a Time by Cristy Lane. Last year’s obsession: Daniel Caesar’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. And film: Just watched Alex Bombach’s brilliant documetary On Her Shoulders. But who are we kidding, my favorite all-time movie: The Wiz.
Advice I’ve give my 15-year-old self: Tell stories. People’s stories matter. And give yourself permission to be weird — people who think differently solve problems in new and creative ways.
Next up, let’s hear from: Benson Wereje in Uganda — an extraordinary person, an ex-child soldier who at great personal risk is building schools and refugee settlements. Benson makes me feel humbled, hopeful, deeply human.
On Twitter: @MorganTreks and @GirlTrek