Apr 11, 2018
Alicia Gonzalez, Chicago Run Founding Executive Director,
understands the importance of working with community and a team to
accomplish a vision. Alicia speaks with Jim and Jan about her
commitment to providing access to health and fitness for
communities of all economic status. She also discusses how she
utilizes running as an outlet for trauma, youth leadership
development, and team building. She shares the importance of
grit and why leaders must surround themselves with a strong network
of diverse supporters.
[7:00] While growing up, Alicia
knew she wanted to be a leader in the sector of fitness and helping
all communities get an equal opportunity to workout and be healthy,
no matter what their income or socioeconomic status.
[9:51] Alicia’s program has
grown into 47 schools and community centers, and serving over
18,000 children around the Chicago area. She now is helping
teenagers become leaders and mentors to younger children entering
[11:28] Alicia’s view of success
when starting the pilot program was less about numbers and ROI and
more about children return feeling impacted and
[16:59] Alicia took an injury
during her run at the Boston Marathon and made it into a teachable
moment on how leaders should inspire others to move out of their
comfort zone, and encourage those around us to learn from our
mistakes and failures.
[24:13] A good leader knows how
important it is to create feedback loops to master the self
awareness their own strengths and deficits. Once this is mastered,
it is easier for the leader to build a diverse team with a varied
[32:58] Alicia is on a mission
to help youth connect running with play, getting active in the
community and providing service.
LinkedIn : @AliciaGonzalez
your ear to the ground, and listen to your
your program with integrity, alongside your community.
you don’t fail, you aren’t pushing yourself hard
away from your comfort zone.
a team effort. Never be afraid to ask for help.
need more “we” and less “me” in leadership.
Alicia is from Chicago (Pilsen
and Little Italy communities) and is the Founding Executive
Director of Chicago Run, a local non-profit that provides free
physical activity programs to Chicago Public School students as a
means of promoting health and wellness, digital learning, social
inclusion, and cross-community relationship-building. She
helped launch Chicago Run as the first staff member in 2008 and has
built and led the organization to its current size of serving over
17,500 students in 46 Chicago Public Schools in 30 low-income
neighborhoods across the city – a 775% program participant growth.
Prior to Chicago Run, Alicia served as the head of Hispanic
Business Development for First American Bank, where she oversaw the
expansion of private-public partnerships in the Latino community.
Alicia’s roots are in the community and prior to working in
the private sector, she held positions as a community organizer and
youth development program director in both Chicago (Enlace) and
Boston (Hispanic Office of Planning & Evaluation). In addition
to Chicago Run, she serves as the Chairman of the Board of
Directors for the Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy, and is
also on the Board of Directors for Heartland Alliance Human Care
Services, Instituto del Progreso Latino, and the Enlace Legacy
Board. Alicia is a recipient of the 2017 Crain’s 40 Under 40 List,
the 2017 Chicago Cubs Roberto Clemente Community Leader Award, the
2016 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition
Latina Entrepreneur of the
Year (2012) from the
Chicago Latino Network, the 35 Under 35 Chicago Leadership
Award (2009) from the
Community Renewal Society, and the 2009 Emerging Health Leader from the Health and Medicine Policy Research
Group. Alicia is a graduate of Stanford University Business
School’s Non-Profit Executive Leadership Program, a fellow in the
2013-2014 American Express NGEN Fellows Program with the
Independent Sector, a Fellow in the 2011 Leadership Greater Chicago
Class, and a fellow in the 2012 Latino Leadership Academy with the
Latino Policy Forum. Most recently Alicia was a Fellow in the
2016-2017 German Marshall Memorial Fellowship Program. Alicia
graduated with honors in Latin American History from
Books Mentioned in this Episode
Born to Run by