Vanessa Renae Garrison

Vanessa Renae Garrison

Walking Legend

Washington, DC

@vanessatreks

TOPICS
Democracy
Activism
Health
Leadership

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Vanessa Renae Garrison is the Co-Founder of GirlTrek, a nonprofit organization that has inspired over a million black women to commit to a daily habit of walking, transforming their health, their hope, and their hometowns in the process. GirlTrek is widely regarded to have done what millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in public health investment by well-meaning universities, healthcare systems, and philanthropic organizations could not—they changed behavior from the inside out, saving countless lives in the process. Serving as the organization’s Chief Growth Officer, Vanessa leads the narrative and storytelling team, producing a roster of award-winning content, including the popular podcast, Black History Bootcamp, and the conversation series, #DaughtersOf. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, and Essence Magazine, and her viral TED Talk, “When Black Women Walk Things Change,” has been used as a curriculum around the world.

Vanessa serves on the national board for the Rails to Trails Conservancy and Essie Justice Group. She was a visiting social innovator at The Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has received fellowships from Echoing Green, Aspen Institute and Dial.

Prior to co-founding GirlTrek, Vanessa worked with formerly incarcerated women, and on digital media projects. She and her collaborator and friend, Morgan Dixon, have been featured on across CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Essence Magazine. Their calling is speaking in front of audiences of black women about the thing that matters most to them: collective transformation.

If you look at decades of the conversation about health in this country, for women specifically, it’s been, 'How do you look in skinny jeans?' GirlTrek is asking, 'How do you feel? Do you have time for yourself?' It’s especially radical for women to talk about health in that way.
--Vanessa Garrison


Joy is inception. GirlTrek is fortunate to work with one of the most untapped resources in America: women who have made time for what lights them up.
--Vanessa Garrison
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