Molly Barker

Yep…that’s me.   My two children know me as Mom. To some, I am a recovering alcoholic; to others a former Ironman triathlete.  To my Girls on the Run colleagues and girls, I am more commonly referred to as Girls on the Run Founder.

I am on a lifetime journey to figure out precisely what “me” is.  I’m hoping that somewhere my “me” is connected to your “you”.  The way I see it…there’s got to be a connection here somewhere or we wouldn’t be where we are right now…my typing these words and your reading them.  I believe these sorts of discoveries don’t happen by accident.  We asked for it…and now we’ve found each other. I’m hoping you will pack up and come along for the ride, reveal and evolve right along with me.

A more formal read of my bio looks something like this:

“The founder of Girls on the Run and a globally recognized role model for positive change, Molly Barker inspires all people to embrace their individual strengths, ask the hard questions of themselves, and realize their potential to change the world.

Molly Barker is the founder of Girls on the Run International, the program that uses running to empower girls. A four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete, Molly used her background in social work, counseling and teaching to develop the program. Since Barker founded it in 1996, it has served a million girls and earned her numerous accolades, including the Daily Point of Light Award, given by President Obama and Former President Bush in a ceremony at the White House.

After retiring from the organization in 2013, she was asked to join the BipartisanPolicyCentersCommissiononPoliticalReform, a Washington group seeking ways to bridge the political divide in Congress. By the time its 29 members of the commission made recommendations, however, Barker had decided the real problem was bigger than Congress. It was all of us.

That was when she began formulating an idea for The Red Boot Way, a new organization whose name was inspired by the gift of a pair of red boots from her daughter Helen.

In August 2014, Molly put those conversation-starting red boots to task and set out to get to the root of what was causing these polarizing conversations. From Charlotte to Las Vegas she listened to hundreds share their fears, concerns and hopes.

“Ultimately, leadership comes down to one very simple question,” she wrote in the telling of her cross-country journey. “Am I willing to make the effort to see, to listen, to look for the humanness that rests within each person I encounter?”

Molly is the mother to two children:  James, owner of Momemsake,  a clothing company; and Helen, a dog trainer.  When asked recently what her mom does for a living, Helen responded, “My mom listens and loves people for her living.”

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21 thoughts on “Molly Barker

  1. Molly, I just read about the naked face project in an old USAtoday, 3/2012. Good job! I haven’t worn make-up or shaved anything for …. many years. It’s nearly impossible to put that across to young women. It takes great courage to stop shaving, to go against the societal rules like that. I think a large part of it is that young women don’t know what is important about being a woman. They don’t feel comfortable with their sexual maturity so they do whatever they can to both stay little girls (shaving everything) and to play dress up (waering make-up like their mothers do). I couldn’t even suceed with my own daughters. What to do? Anything? Or just wait for women to mature in themselves?

  2. Molly, I enjoyed hearing you Saturday at Clemson! What an inspiring story you shared. I felt several times that my heart would burst out of my chest – I wanted to cry so bad! I believe that God sends us to the exact place we need to be in order to meet the exact people we need to meet at the exact time we need (in our lives) to meet them! So now I know why I went to the conference at Clemson, even though I didn’t really feel like going this time. Now I know – it was to hear you! The Madaline story was so awesome – please don’t forget to email it to me 🙂 I hope to see you again soon!

  3. Hi, my name is Christiana Haight.

    I am a Junior in Midland High School, from Midland, Michigan. I work for our school newspaper, The Focus. I have been pushing to do an article about Girls on the Run, and this month I finally got my chance to run with it! I have contacted some of our local coaches, township coordinator, and even some girls who are currently in the program. But the one person I am missing, is you.
    I would love to interview you over the phone or via email, and talk to you about your inspiration behind Girls on the Run!
    If you are at all interested, please email me at and let me know! I love your blog, and I find you to be an absolute inspiration.

  4. Hi Molly! I love the work GOTR does. I have never personally been involved but I have had close friends sit on some of the local chapter boards. I hope to be involved this year as my daughter is now in third grade. Over the years I have bought several, more than several copies, of Girls Lit From Within. I have passed them out to numerous friends whose daughters I thought would benefit. In fact several years ago this little yellow book dramatically changed a young lady’s life! I just went online to buy some more, but it appears to not be sold on the GOTR website or anywhere else! I did find one copy on Amazon. Any special hidden places where I can find more to buy? I just love that book. I am a fellow MSW/LCSW and have seen a lot over the years and I have called upon this book numerous times when working with clients. Please help SOS!

  5. Quite a few years ago I was lucky enough to be a GOTR coach and got the book “Girls Lit From Within” for my daughter. I recently found it on her bookshelf and my two younger daughters read it. I had forgotten just what an amazing book it is! I am interested in purchasing quite a few copies of this book to give to a group of young girls who are on a team together. When I searched online I didn’t see a lot of options to purchase it. Is this book still in production? If so, where can I look into purchasing some?

    Thanks so much,

    Kristin Bublitz

  6. Hi Molly!

    My name is Morgan and I’m a senior in high school. I participated in Girls on the Run and on my last day I was given your book, Girls Lit from Within. The first time I read the book its meaning didn’t really resonate with me. It wasn’t until a few years later that the book’s message really hit home. In the seventh and eighth grade I really struggled to find who I was. I felt a lot of pressure to be someone I wasn’t. Your book helped me through that. I’ve realized lately that I might not be the person I am today if I hadn’t read your book. So I just wanted to thank you so much for being who you are and for writing your book. It definitely changed my life.

    Thank you so much,


  7. Molly- Love your work and thankful for how you are representing Carolina well as an alum! I oversee the Presbyterian Campus Ministry at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill. I would love to host you in Chapel Hill if you have a Thursday night available for this spring in between February-April. Our student ministry is a group of about 50 students who meet every Thursday night school is in session for dinner and a program. I thought you might like a chance to be back at your alma mater. Am hopeful we can find a way to work this out. With thanks for all you are doing! -John

  8. Molly, I met you on Sept. 26 in Sedona on a required timeshare tour. I felt that your work was the purpose of that meeting. We shared a bit… I am a Counselor in Private Practice. Tonight you came up in my FACEBOOK feed!! You are coming to Toledo!!! 35 minutes away… Can we connect while you are here.

  9. is it possible to send me an invoice for the book only (no shipping) as I picked it up from you yesterday at Rotary! Thanks, Molly! Great to see you. . . .

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