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GOTR Minnesota

GOTR Minnesota

Meet Kathleen Cannon, our new executive director

Collage of Kathleen Cannon and her journey at GOTR MN

What brought you to GOTR?

In 2011, I volunteered to coach a GOTR team at a school a few blocks from my house in Iowa City. Right away, I realized this glorious combination – delightful age group, structured mentoring, meaty topics like emotions and relationships and self-talk mixed in with genuinely fun games, physical activity and goal-setting – was magic. I spent the next few years as the executive director of GOTR Eastern Iowa, a role I loved, and when my family decided to relocate to Minnesota in 2014, I figured I’d find work as a lawyer and see if I could stay involved in GOTR somehow. Instead, I ended up as our second hire, starting as program director, in GOTR Twin Cities’ infancy. 

What are you proudest of from your time as GOTR MN’s program director?

This is a hard one. There was a time where we were always introducing GOTR as a concept, and anytime I saw someone rocking a GOTR shirt, I knew them personally. Those days are long gone! I’m deeply proud of the reach GOTR has now and the vibrant community that makes this happen. There are thousands of coaches, staff members, site liaisons, donors, volunteers, current and former board and committee members, community leaders, and general awesome advocates who feel such ownership in the integrity and success of GOTR…and we are still just getting started! We’ve made it through the start-up phase, through exciting initial growth, through a pandemic and racial reckoning, and now statewide expansion. It renews my hope for humanity to see just how many people in our community believe in the power of high-quality, inclusive, girl-focused programming that builds authentic relationships and life skills. So many folks continue to jump right in with a “How can I help??” approach that inspires everyone involved. We all help push each other to show up, keep learning, and be better day to day, season to season. The level of self-reflection and built-in accountability to each other and our shared values is really amazing - I’m proud and grateful to be part of it.

Any favorite GOTR moments to share?

So many! I loved our 2015 5K at the U of M - that sticks out in my mind as one of the best ever, but through the years there have been way too many highlights to count. Some big ones (like the GOTR 5K finish line, always) and some everyday ones (seeing adults go above and beyond for kids and each other, noticing GOTR kids use their voices for change in their communities, navigating hard conversations with grace and kindness) and plenty in between. Recency bias alert: I loved Camp GOTR last summer so much. My own daughters (now 7th and 9th graders, and GOTR alums!) joined me as junior coaches and we spent such a great week together. Seeing them step into leadership, laughing and crafting and learning alongside thirty girls from ten different schools was a gift. The last few years I’ve had the chance to coach my own little GOTR team in White Bear Lake and there’s just no substitute for the time we spend together there. Of course I also love the GOTR 5Ks, and the Luncheon, and Lunafest, and community events, and our board/staff retreats, and coach training…wait, maybe I love it all. 

How about outside of GOTR?

Andrew and I have three hilarious and opinionated kids (14, 12 and 9) plus a rowdy goldendoodle and just keeping up with them takes all I’ve got. I’m a huge WNBA fan (if you don’t follow the Minnesota Lynx, it’s time!), an avid reader and podcast listener, a pseudo-secret advice columnist, and at the risk of sounding a few decades older than I am, my love for jigsaw puzzles, board games, and crocheting is strong. I’m also proud to serve on the board of MAVA (Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement). 

What are your priorities for GOTR MN in the coming year?

This is a big and important question. I look forward to identifying more together as we dream up plans with a new leadership team in the months ahead. One top priority is keeping access and inclusion at the forefront as we continue to grow; those efforts might look different in greater Minnesota than they do in the Cities and we have work to do here educating ourselves and our community about the many barriers we have a responsibility to tackle. Who isn’t involved because they don’t see this as a place for them? Whose perspectives are we missing and how can we be more inclusive? Another is maintaining quality as we grow, dreaming big about ways to better mirror our communities and meet families where they are. The world needs different things from GOTR in 2023 and beyond than it did five years ago. The sky's the limit.

How can folks support this?

Honestly, jump right in! Consider your own passion and skill set and where you can meet a need within GOTR MN. Maybe it’s starting a GOTR team in your neighborhood, making a financial gift that’s meaningful to you, sharing info about coaching with your affinity group at work, talking to your workplace about large scale sponsorship, joining our Board, Associate Board, or Greater MN Advisory Board, texting your sister that she should look into this, whatever. Maybe you’ve been involved a while and are ready to deepen your commitment in a new way. Or, maybe you’re brand new to GOTR and wanting to volunteer at the 5K or attend our Limitless Potential Luncheon to catch the vision. Wherever you are and whatever you have to give, this work will take all of us and we’d love to have you.

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