On Thursday, Nneka Ogwumike was officially welcomed onto the leadership team of a nonprofit that she has been working with since 2019. It’s called Girls on the Run International and helps empower girls by working with them on their social, emotional, physical and behavioral skills when they are between third and eighth grade.
“I’m incredibly honored to join the Girls on the Run board of directors,” Ogwumike said. “I do what I do today thanks to role models before me — role models who looked like me, and opened my mind and heart to the many possibilities to be phenomenal. I hope in my own way as an athlete and an advocate, I’m able to serve as a role model for young aspirers also looking to see, relate and ultimately be empowered to be great.
“There is no box that is big enough to contain the potential of these girls. By being involved with Girls on the Run, I want to play a part in reminding them of that, so they can go wherever they want to go and be whoever they want to be.”
In 2019, Ogwumike attended 5K races hosted by Girls on the Run (GOTR) in Charlotte and Los Angeles. The following year, during the pandemic, she brought GOTR to computer screens by making an at-home video. Last year, she got Pepsi to donate $50,000 to GOTR Los Angeles and helped raise over $250,000 as a panelist at GOTR’s 25th Birthday event.
“At 6 feet 2 inches, girls literally and figuratively look up to Nneka,” said Elizabeth Kunz, CEO of Girls on the Run International. “She is a tremendous role model and embodies so many of the things we reinforce in our curriculum: leadership, teamwork, resilience and confidence. She has done so much for our organization over the years, and she brings both her head and heart to our mission. Now our board, our entire organization and the hundreds of thousands of girls we serve every year will benefit from her perspective and leadership.”
Ogwumike is known as one of the best leaders in the WNBA. Her skills in that department could be invaluable to GOTR. By encouraging girls to be athletes themselves, Ogwumike will be setting them up for success later in life. A 2013 survey that interviewed 821 top female executives came back with 90 percent of them reporting having played sports as kids. Of CEOs, the percentage was 96.
Over 200,000 girls participate in GOTR every year and over two million have participated since it began in 1996. According to research done by the University of Minnesota, 97 percent of girls report that GOTR helped them learn critical life skills and 94 percent of their parents considered it a valuable experience.