Allison Hauser is no stranger to ambitious goals.
As a first-grader in Tobaccoville, N.C., she read 1,000 books, toting them home from the library in a laundry basket.
A former Park Scholar, Hauser earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in public administration in 4 1/2 years and launched a campus chapter of the March of Dimes. She also earned a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.
Now, at age 32, Hauser aims to instill in girls in the Big Apple the confidence that they also can accomplish anything they set out to do. Since 2012, that has been her goal as executive director of the New York City chapter of Girls on the Run.
“The mission … is to inspire girls to be confident, to be joyful and to be healthy,” Hauser says. “ There is an interest in physical activity, but we want the girl to feel she can do anything.”
Coached by trained volunteers, each Girls on the Run team has eight to 20 girls. Running is used to inspire and motivate, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and instill confidence through accomplishment. At each season’s conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event.
“Completing a 5k gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals,” Hauser writes on her LinkedIn profile. “The result — making the seemingly impossible, possible and teaching girls that they can.”
Six hundred girls representing all five boroughs of New York took part in the program this spring. A big part of Hauser’s job is raising money to help defray the cost for those who otherwise couldn’t afford to take part. “Our goal is that every girl can participate,” she says.
One of the key experiences for participants is a public-service project they design and carry out. These projects have included making blankets for animal shelter cages and writing letters of encouragement to the elderly for distribution with Meals on Wheels.
“It’s really nice to see these girls get into it,” she says. “They’re designing the community impact project themselves, and they do it.”
Hauser, who is president of the New York/Connecticut/New Jersey alumni network, imagines a day when Girls on the Run will be as widely known as the March of Dimes, which she worked for from 2006 to 2012.
“There is a lot of opportunity for us to grow,” she says of the New York City chapter of Girls on the Run.
–Carole Tanzer Miller