This article was featured in RBJ’s Path to Excellence magazine published June 22, 2018.
As a leader in a woman-owned organization, Jessica Savage knows the importance of encouraging women in their careers and developing their confidence and leadership skills.
So when she became involved in Girls on the Run as a parent, volunteer and coach, it was a natural fit. Savage, managing partner for Account Services at Dixon Schwabl, learned about Girls on the Run when her daughters, now 13 and almost 12, were ready to participate in the third- through fifth-grade curriculum.
“At the time, it was the right age for me to consider getting my girls involved in this program because what more would a mother want than to provide the experiences for my girls to become confident and believe in themselves and have the skills they need to realize their full potential?” Savage said.
Girls on the Run offers two different 10-week programs—one for third through fifth grade and one for sixth through eighth grade—that teach girls to be more confident, develop their social skills and give back to their communities all while training to run a 5K.
Savage volunteered to help set up for the 5K that first year, then joined her older daughter as a running buddy. After that, she was hooked and became a coach for four seasons.
“It’s just the most amazing feeling,” she said of watching the girls develop and then run the race at the end of the program. “You watch all these girls reach this accomplishment with their team, with their running buddy and fans cheering on the sideline.”
She then became involved with Girls on the Run’s marketing committee and ultimately became a board member.
“It’s been important to me for many years and it’s just a passion,” she said. “Every time I see another girl cross the finish line and you see that sense of pride and power, it makes me choke up.”
Developing strong women has taken on a greater sense of importance in this #MeToo era, and Savage cherishes her role in teaching these girls the skills they need to succeed.
“What could be better than feeling like you’re a female leader, a mom of two girls and I have the opportunity to touch the lives of all the girls in this program either directly as a coach or by the contributions we make as a board?” she said. “It’s an honor.”
Most people would say they want to give back to their communities, but finding time when you’re raising a family and working your way up the career ladder can be difficult. Savage thinks it’s important to find volunteer work that’s a passion, as Girls on the Run is for her.
“When you are feeling a sense of commitment and connection to the people you are serving, you make the time and you feel really energized by it,” she said. “It makes it easy when it’s something you care deeply about.”
Savage also appreciates that Girls on the Run continues the cycle of giving back. As part of the program, each team is required to create and execute a community service project.
“We teach how important it is and model that behavior of how important it is to give back to our communities so that we can continue to make lives better, make an impact, give of ourselves so that somebody else’s life is improved,” she said.
“If you believe in giving back and you’re able to help instill that sense of giving back in other people around you, I don’t know that there’s much more you can ask for.”