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T. Morgan Dixon

What are you leading?

Morgan founded GirlTrek with her friend Vanessa Garrison in 2010.  GirlTrek is now the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. GirlTrek inspires and supports African American women and girls to live their healthiest, most fulfilled lives - simply by coming together to walk together regularly. Through grassroots organizing and award-winning social media campaigns, GirlTrek has supported over 100,000 walkers, 300 volunteers and inspires an ever-growing network of supporters.

As important as walking is, for Morgan and Vanessa, GirlTrek represents something much bigger. It is not simply a weight loss or exercise program, but by bringing together and empowering black women together, it is facilitating a movement for change which is rooted in the history of black women and civil rights. Walking is the practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities.

GirlTrek's health movement relies on inspirational stories, street organizers, active role models, authentic partnerships, smart advocacy and a whole lot of hustle! It is quickly becoming a “go-to” organization in the public health space. They have built partnerships with such companies as Kaiser Permanente, National Park Service, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign.

How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?

Morgan began her career with Teach For America as a high school history teacher in Atlanta, GA. It was during this time that she learnt about the statistical probability of chronic disease and early death among her students. These statistics motivated her to take action. She knew that walking was a powerful antidote to many of the health challenges faced by those in her community so she began by walking with her students. As satisfying as those walks were, she knew that in order to truly end the public health crisis, the solution needed to acknowledge and address the historical, systemic discrimination of black women. 

She drew inspiration from the philosophies of women like Ella Baker and Septima Clark, which led her to move beyond the simple hiking club with her students, and become more ambitious setting the bigger goal to bring together the girls with their parents and communities, to use the practice of coming together collectively as walkers to improve fitness, but also to mobilize a movement of empowered female change-makers across the U.S.A.

In 2012, Morgan was awarded Teach For America's 2012 Social Innovation Award. The prizes included significant grant funding, mentoring and profile for GirlTrek which supported the development of the organization.

What's next?

By 2018, GirlTrek aims to mobilize one million supporters to lead a "walking revolution for better health" in high-need communities across the USA. Morgan is also interested to learn whether the model can be adapted to support women in other international contexts. 

Alumni info

Alumni Cohort

2000

Current Home

Washington D.C.

Subject(s) Taught

History, Government, Law, Geography and World Arts & Culture

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Leadership Journey

2000

Morgan joins Teach For America as a History teacher in Atlanta. During this time she is shocked to learn that 50% of the girls she teachers will get diabetes unless diet and levels of activity change and starts testing ideas to combat this with her students.

2010

Morgan teams up with her childhood friend Vanessa Garrison to found GirlTrek. The challenged their friends and families to inspire their communities and reclaim the streets of the neighborhoods.

2012

The idea spreads as volunteers around the USA hear about GirlTrek and start to organize their own walks in their communities.

2013

GirlTrek becomes a fully registered non-profit organization and organizes 15,000 women to come together to march on the National Mall inspired by the life of Harriet Tubman to walk for better health.

2014

Morgan was named among the top 1% of global social innovators by Echoing Green as well as an Ashoka Fellow. Morgan and Vanessa are invited to the White House at the request of Michelle Obama in recognition of their work.

2015

Morgan is awarded a Fellowship from the Aspen Institute

Support

2012

Morgan was awarded Teach For America's 2012 Social Innovation Award. "I was absolutely struck - by their leadership and passion and by the potential for GirlTrek to be a game changer for kids and communities in America!" Wendy Kopp