Molly Barker

Who is Molly Barker?

Molly Barker is an Ashoka Fellow, who I found out about both through my work as well as through her program, Girls on the Run, which has a chapter at my daughter’s elementary school. As an inspiring leader, she is asking the deep questions about who we are, what we stand for, and what our purpose is, and she is providing safe spaces for people to honestly connect with one another.

Her bio:

Barker, who holds a MSW, founded Girls on the Run in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. A four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete, she used her background in social work, counseling and teaching, along with research on adolescent issues, to develop the program. Today, there are Girls on the Run councils in over 210 cities across North America serving over 200,000 girls and women each year. (

The “Girl Box,” a phrase coined by Molly, describes the imaginary place many girls go around adolescence, where cultural and societal stereotypes limit choices as well as opportunities. Molly founded Girls on the Run to create a connected and safe “space” that invites girls and women to see, unravel from and eliminate their own and often unconscious buy-in to the Girl Box and its limiting messages.

A very strong interest of Molly’s is reframing our perceptions of leadership and encouraging dialogue which explores how we might broaden our current view to include joy, compassion, love and vulnerability. Now Molly is heading up The Red Boot Coalition…a project that takes the same message of authenticity and empowerment to the “rest of us” by inviting those who are willing to address the current fear, anger and hyperpolarized state of some of our largest systems: politics, religion, economics and ethnicity, by engaging in dialogue focused on the Eleven Red Boot Coalition Principles. Not afraid to ask the hard questions, Molly engages with humor, poignant stories, and rich demonstrations of the power possible when people collectively give voice and action to love, compassion and curious-inquiry in spite of the perceived chaos, fear and anger around us.

Molly has been featured in many media outlets including People, Runner’s World, Glamour, Shape, Redbook and Woman’s Day. She was recently selected by Fast Company to the League of Extraordinary Women, Women Truly Changing the World. ( In July, 2013, Molly was recognized by President Barack Obama and President George H.W. Bush at a ceremony in Washington DC, as a Daily Point of Light.

Molly has authored two books, “Girls on Track: A Parent’s Guide to Inspiring our Daughters to Achieve a Lifetime of Self-Esteem and Respect”, and “Girls Lit from Within” which is specifically for 3rd — 8th grade girls.

Molly is a positive role model. She enjoys writing, running and yoga but most enjoys the challenges which emerge in her own personal evolution and deep desire to live life outside the Boxes that might otherwise contain her. She is available for speaking engagements (something she loves as a matter of fact). If interested in bringing her to your next event please contact Lindsay Samakow at