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Conversations with Lauren Pietrek

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Pietrek.

Hi Lauren, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
Thank you! My name is Lauren Pietrek and I am the Development & Marketing Director for Girls on the Run of the Rockies.

I started getting involved with Girls on the Run in 2009 as a senior in high school. I volunteered as a race day volunteer with Girls on the Run Chicago for two seasons and then Girls on the Run came back into my life in 2011 in Minnesota. My sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, has been a national partner for Girls on the Run for over a decade and I had the opportunity to support the Girls on the Run Twin Cities (now Girls on Run Minnesota) council while completing my undergraduate degree.

In 2017, I felt like I needed to be doing more for the next generation of girls and I began my first season of coaching in Logan, UT. It was that year that I told myself if a job opened up at Girls on the Run of the Rockies, I would apply! Three months later, I was packing a U-Haul and heading home to Colorado.

I am so proud to work for Girls on the Run of the Rockies. Our council is one of more than 140 councils nationwide! Girls on the Run of the Rockies was founded by our Executive Director, Lisa Johnson, in 2005. We started with just 4 teams and 90 girls in Denver and have grown to serve girls and families along the entire Front Range. Since 2005, we have had over 50,000 Colorado girls participate in our programming and this year alone, we anticipate that 5,000 girls at over 250 schools will learn to honor their voices, embrace their gifts, and celebrate their strengths with us.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Like most people, organizations, and businesses, COVID-19 greatly impacted the way we can deliver our programming. However, one thing we knew was true was that the pandemic did not lessen the need for our program, it only exasperated it. In the spring of 2020, we had to cancel our program for the first time in our history. Our staff worked diligently to find ways to connect with the girls that needed a safe place to be themselves, connect with others during a time of great isolation, and share their star power with others.

While our teams traditionally met at schools right after the last bell rang, we had to be creative and engage new community sites to help deliver our programming. We met online, we met in parks, we met at rec centers, and even at some community sites in various housing communities. While our staff worked tirelessly to make sure we could still bring our program to the community, our volunteers and donors stepped up too. If they could give time or donate monetarily to our cause, they did and continue to. We are so grateful that so many people in our community believe in our program and believe in the power of girls!

On a personal note, of course, there have been struggles. I went to school for Sociology and in graduate school, I studied professional leadership, all of my work experience had been in collegiate athletics and I thought I was destined to work with student-athletes for my career.

While I loved connecting with the students I worked with, chasing a soccer player to make sure their essay was in on time or having to tell a coach that their star player was ineligible because she failed an engineering class was not exactly rewarding. As a young (and now a little older) professional, I have had to remind myself that it is ok to change your mind and then change it again! I am so glad that I have allowed myself to do this so that I could land at an organization that I care about deeply but also I know values my strengths!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
At Girls on the Run, my official title is Development & Marketing Director. In the nonprofit world, development focuses on relationships and fundraising. I work with individuals and corporations that want to support our mission and find creative ways that they can engage. I grew up volunteering and I need to make sure that anyone who engages with Girls on the Run feels how grateful we are for their support. I use marketing to communicate the impact of our program to all of our stakeholders so the two areas go hand-in-hand.

Program access and inclusion are a top priority for our council. Nearly 70% of the girls that we serve annually need financial support to participate in meaningful after-school programming, My job is to continue to ensure that we never have to turn a girl or team away due to lack of funding. We are supported by grants, corporate partnerships, and individual donations that allow us to offer our program to girls along the Front Range regardless of socio-economic status.

I am very proud to work for Girls on the Run because our staff lives the mission. I think that anyone who has the opportunity to engage with our small (but mighty) team is impressed with the amount of work we can accomplish as a team. This is where I have to give kudos to Lisa, our ED. She is a wonderful leader. Girls on the Run has encouraged me to embrace my gifts just like we encourage our participants!

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
The best part about Colorado is the enthusiasm for a movement that exists within our community. We could not do what we do without our volunteer coaches. These womxn come from all walks of life – they are parents, teachers, lawyers, interns, customer service associates, and CFOs. The commonalities are passion for our mission and desire to make a difference in girls’ lives. As for what I like the least? I-70 traffic on the weekends.

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Image Credits
Katie Redfield

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