Kim Dandrea has discovered many benefits to the discipline of running: mental wellness, stress relief and a sense of personal accomplishment.
In recent years, Dandrea, a private client risk executive of M3 Insurance, has worked to help Milwaukee youth discover that running is for them, too.
A little over two years ago, Dandrea was participating in a half-Ironman triathlon in Michigan when she took note of her fellow competitors and realized they mostly looked like her.
“I noticed there were not a lot of women of color,” said Dandrea. “I started to think, what can I do about that? How can I create opportunity to have a more diverse group?”
Soon after, at an event hosted by Milwaukee professional women’s group TEMPO, Dandrea ended up connecting with St. Joan Antida High School president Marikris Coryell. Dandrea, who was already familiar with Girls on the Run after having attended its annual Sneaker Soiree fundraiser, began planning to bring the program to the high school.
“I really wanted to get it started at the school age because I thought, if I could capture some of that younger audience, it may be something that I could open their eyes to an opportunity,” she said.
Dandrea helped launch a running club at St. Joan Antida, leading a core group of about eight girls in twice-a-week practices, which culminated in participating in the end-of-the-year Girls on the Run 5K.
In partnering with Girls on the Run, which is a national nonprofit with a southeastern Wisconsin affiliate, the club developed into more than just a running program.
GOTR hosts programming for girls in third through eighth grade with the goal of strengthening their social, emotional, physical and behavioral skills. Its curriculum is specifically designed to reach girls at a critical stage in the development of their confidence.
“It has facets of teaching girls lifestyle skills – how to navigate challenging situations, confrontational situations, helping to build self-esteem, and there’s community projects involved,” Dandrea said.
She recently joined Girls on the Run Southeastern Wisconsin’s board of directors with the goal of expanding its reach to more schools in the seven-county greater Milwaukee area.
“There is so much value our community can gain by having strong girls,” Dandrea said. “My mission really is to help spread the word and leverage my business and my triathlon network to help promote this program.”
Private Client Risk Executive
Nonprofit served: Girls on the Run
Service: Volunteer and board member