Meagan Kukowski is the Executive Director of Girls on the Run serving Maricopa & Pinal Counties. Girls on the Run has given Meagan a platform to inspire and motivate girls while also teaching them life skills. Learn more about Meagan…
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
First job: In addition to babysitting, my first official job was working in a print shop for a friend of our family. I still vividly remember the smell of that basement and walking around a table hundreds of times a day collating catalogs. It was tough but enabled me to earn money to pay for high school uniforms and books.
Favorite AZ restaurant: For a special occasion: Café Monarch. The food and experience are fantastic, and the atmosphere makes it feel like you have left Scottsdale for the night. For dinner with the kids: Oregano’s is one of our regular spots and has even become a Christmas Eve family tradition for the four of us. It is easy and predictable, and the pizza and veggies are great.
Person who has impacted your life the most: My family! My husband, Jeff, has probably had the biggest impact in my life. He is hard-working, solution-focsed, inspires those around him and doesn’t sacrifice his integrity for success. Jeff encourages me to be my best and supports the constant juggling act that I work to master.
Part of that juggling act includes being mom to two girls, Quinn and Reese, who have also impacted my life in a tremendous way. To them, often the smallest things and experiences are filled with so much wonder. I try to live that way as well, with gratitude and as though the hard, easy and exciting things are each an adventure.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: The growth of our Girls on the Run council. I first got involved with Girls on the Run in 2005 when I applied to be a coach while working for another nonprofit. Seeing the truly transformational impact the program made on the girls I coached inspired me to want to see the progam grow and work to serve more girls. That season was our council’s second, and we served about 40 girls. Last fall we served our 10,000th local girl. It has been a really remarkable ride thus far and I feel so blessed to be in this role. But, there is more work to do and so many more girls to reach!
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: There have been plenty of bumps in the road and mountains that I have had to climb, but I really try to look back on challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. One obstacle that continues to pop up at times, though, is myself. When self doubt or negative self-talk creep in it can be tough, but I try to use the same tools that we teach girls through Girls on the Run programming. That is actually one of the reasons that Girls on the Run is so important and impactful. The skills and lessons we provide are used by girls for the rest of their lives.
Someone who inspires you: Our GOTR girls, families and volunteers. Spending time with the girls at our program sites and with the girls and their families at the 5k is hands down the absolute best part of my job and my inspiration to do more and do better. Getting to team up with volunteers who dedicate their time, talents and energy to empowering girls is also inspiring and a sincere privilege.
Favorite quote: “This a a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” – Maya Angelou
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Prioritize. In the nonprofit world you often wear many different hats, and there is often more to do than you have the time or resources to accomplish. When the mission is so important it can be hard not to want to try to do it all, right now. Prioritization can help. So can other people! Relationships with fellow staff, volunteers, sponsors, donors and those you serve can make a huge difference in the impact you can make. And, as with most careers I would imagine, having the ability to laugh even when it feels like you are surrounded by fires is key.
What makes someone fabulous: empathy, kindness, positivity.
Learn more about Girls on the Run at gotrmc.org.