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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

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.


Key Takeaways

[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 the program.

[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 affected.

[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 skill set.

[32:58] Alicia is on a mission to help youth connect running with play, getting active in the community and providing service.


Instagram: @aliciagchiRun

Instagram   @chicagorun

LinkedIn : @AliciaGonzalez

Twitter:              @aliciachirun

Twitter: @Chicago_Run

Facebook: @AliciaGonzalez

Facebook: @ChicagoRun



Quotable Quotes

  • Keep your ear to the ground, and listen to your constituents.
  • Build your program with integrity, alongside your community.
  • If you don’t fail, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.
  • Move away from your comfort zone.
  • It’s a team effort. Never be afraid to ask for help.
  • We 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 Community Leadership Award, the 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

Brown University.



Books Mentioned in this Episode

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall