Vanessa Garrison is a passionate advocate of social justice issues and has focused her work on improving health outcomes and quality of life for black women and girls. Prior to co-founding GirlTrek, a national health movement, Vanessa worked as a Program Coordinator for Our Place DC, a nonprofit organization that provides services to currently and formerly incarcerated women. Vanessa began her career working in digital media at Turner Broadcasting System. Inc. in Atlanta, GA. She was awarded Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award, recognized by the Awesome Foundation as a leader to watch, and was featured on NPR and The Root. Vanessa earned a Bachelor of Arts in World Arts and Culture from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 2013, Vanessa co-founded GirlTrek, a groundbreaking national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C that inspires and supports African-American women and girls to live their healthiest, most fulfilled lives”simply by walking. Through grassroots organizing and award-winning social media campaigns, GirlTrek currently supports over 80,000 walkers and over 400 neighborhood-based volunteers, and inspires an ever-growing network of more than 200,000 supporters. GirlTrek’s health movement relies on inspirational stories, street organizers, active role models, authentic partnerships, smart advocacy and a whole lot of hustle! The organization’s five-year goal is to mobilize one million supporters to lead a walking revolution for better health in high-need communities across America by 2018.
GirlTrek is quickly becoming a go-to organization in the public health space. They have built partnerships with outdoor retail brands as well as Kaiser Permanente, the National Park Service, and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. In their own words: This is not a fitness organization, this is a campaign for healing. We walk to heal our bodies, inspire our families, and to reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods.