Letter from GOTR MN’s Board of Directors
As the Board of Directors of Girls on the Run Minnesota, we value your participation, enthusiasm and support, and would like to keep you abreast of some important changes within our organization.
Mary Uran, our co-founder and long-time executive director, is leaving her position later this year. As an organization, we would not be where we are today without Mary’s brilliant and visionary leadership. Since the very beginning of our Girls on the Run council, Mary has poured her whole heart into building the organization from the ground up, first in a volunteer capacity as she stepped into leadership to form an initial steering committee to explore bringing GOTR to the Twin Cities in 2011, then as our full-time executive director since 2013. With her trademark humor and passion, she has worked tirelessly to prioritize inclusion, diversity, equity and access at every level of our organization. Her resourceful curiosity, open-hearted leadership and make-it-happen magic are key reasons GOTR MN has developed into a strong and thriving organization. She will always be a treasured member of our GOTR community and we wish her the very best in her next chapter. Her last day will be December 1, 2022.
We’re excited to announce that we have named Kathleen Cannon as the new executive director of Girls on the Run Minnesota, effective December 1, 2022. As our Program Director since 2014, Kathleen has helped our program grow from 200 girls at 15 sites to more than 5,000 girls per year at 200+ sites, engaging thousands of volunteers with joy and intention. Additionally, her training as a lawyer and mediator will serve GOTR well in this new capacity. We’re delighted she has accepted this position and look forward to the many opportunities ahead.
Below, you’ll find a few words from both Mary and Kathleen about this transition. We hope you’ll join us in thanking Mary for her outstanding legacy of leadership and in welcoming Kathleen to this new role. And of course, amidst these exciting changes, we invite you to consider how you might deepen your involvement in GOTR’s important work in the years ahead.
Girls on the Run Minnesota Board of Directors
Beth Kessler, Chair
Kristin Rortvedt, Vice Chair
Nicole Jin, Secretary
Andy Cerio, Treasurer
Aaisha Abdullahi, Tamara Anderson, Angie Andresen, Dinkenesh Coltvet, Danielle Gangelhoff, Karen Hohertz-Jacobs, Holley Horrell, Gauri Jadhav, Abby Kirshbaum, Katie Lingras, Veda Maharaj, Becca Richman, Marcy Twete, Emily Vennerstrom, Desiree Wallace
From Mary Uran, departing Executive Director:
Dear GOTR MN Community,
Certain times in your life create space for personal reflection and change, and I find myself approaching one of them as I prepare to leave one of the best jobs I can imagine: Executive Director of Girls on the Run MN. I’ve made this decision with great care, as I am extremely committed to GOTR MN’s success—now and in the future.
Together, we have created something incredibly powerful: not just a high-quality program, but a movement where more than 20,000 girls across the state of Minnesota have come to better understand their power and agency. A movement that has helped them use their voices, stand up for themselves and others, and know they are capable of coming off of the sidelines and leading in their own communities right now. It has been an honor and one of the greatest joys of my life to not only work alongside these changemakers but also build something with all of you who believe in the power of girls.
Girls on the Run here in Minnesota has seen a number of changes just in the last year, including building upon the learnings of the pandemic to be able to grow statewide in 2021, and building back even stronger as we continue to deepen our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and access. A new path forward calls for new leadership. While leaving an organization I love and believe in so strongly will be hard, what makes this transition much easier is being able to hand over this role to Kathleen Cannon.
Kathleen is a tremendous leader, a reliable role model, a passionate visionary, and a tireless advocate. She will be an outstanding executive director and will lead this organization into a new stage as a statewide organization. In working together over the last eight years, I have been consistently impressed (and amazed!) by her resourceful leadership, can-do attitude, excellence as a manager and unparalleled ability to strategically build capacity.
Kathleen is the key reason our organization has had meteoric growth through the past eight years while maintaining high-quality programming and volunteer experiences. Her ability to see the big picture, turn ideas into executable action plans, and nimbly adjust strategies for the greater good is unparalleled. Her leadership will serve the organization well as we grow statewide. I cannot imagine a stronger successor than Kathleen.
I am excited about what’s to come for GOTR MN with Kathleen at the helm and optimistic about my own next steps. I’m pleased to continue my service as board chair for the Brave Like Gabe Foundation and board member for the National CMV Foundation, and I will be exploring new roles within public health and health equity. And for the first time ever, I will actually get to run the GOTR 5K this spring, alongside my daughter Collette.
I could not be more proud of the work we have done and the foundation we have laid to drive even more impact on behalf of girls across Minnesota.
I’d like to personally thank you for your support over the years. Be sure to stay tuned for our updates: there is certainly much more to come. And I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming GOTR event this fall, especially the GOTR Fall 5k!
From Kathleen Cannon, incoming executive director:
It’s hard to overstate how much I will miss Mary; we all will! She is irreplaceable. Her generous, open-hearted leadership has taught me more than I can say. Mary’s approach to the world is a delightful combination of immediacy, intention, vision and grit; that special mix has had an immeasurable influence on me and on GOTR. The opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with her, with the rest of our fantastic team, with our vibrant community, and with so many of you in bringing the GOTR magic to communities all over the state has been a gift. I am beyond thankful for the action-packed eight years we’ve shared building this council into what it is today.
Looking ahead, I’m deeply grateful for this new opportunity with Girls on the Run Minnesota. The months and years ahead of us will be much different from the decade behind us in many complicated, exciting and challenging ways. As you may already know, I bring a decade of GOTR-specific experience to this role (eight years as our Program Director, and two years as the executive director of GOTR Eastern Iowa before that - and twenty seasons of coaching!), outside experience in volunteerism, communication, fundraising, and more, along with my professional training as a lawyer and mediator. I’m eager to work with you to build upon the momentum Mary has cultivated so intentionally over the last decade to make Girls on the Run a sustainable, forward-facing, thriving part of Minnesota’s evolving landscape. At the same time, I know things will not be perfect; in this new role, I invite you to keep me accountable to our organization’s broader purpose as a community citizen, prioritizing inclusion, diversity, equity and access as we work together to build the world our girls deserve.
Please join me in celebrating Mary’s infinite contributions. Change is hard and yet the future is bright. I look forward to hearing your ideas and connections about how we can deepen our impact in the years ahead. Thank you for believing in GOTR, in our community, and in me!