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Staff

Nikki Mercer
Council Director
- nikki.mercer@girlsontherun.org

As a lifelong resident of Champaign County, I am thrilled that Girls on the Run has an increasingly strong presence in our communities. I am honored to continue the work that Mary Konken has begun here to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident! In addition to coordinating Girls on the Run of Champaign County, I am wife to Brian and mom to Charlotte (9) and Jake (8). I am an alumnus of Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I also have a Master’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Eastern Illinois University, where my studies and internship focused on nutrition human development. I enjoy volunteering and mentoring at my children’s school and at our church, running, walking, reading, date nights, family nights, and listening to the joyful noises of people gathering in my home. I look forward to partnering with you as we continue to positively impact the lives of girls in Champaign County!

Council Board

Kelly Barbour-Conerty
Associate Professor of Business, Parkland College

Why I became involved with GOTR: I started running a few years ago. I love how it makes me feel, and the confidence it gives me. My daughter has started doing 5 K races with me, and I see the excitement and increased self-confidence she is gaining by being active. I had heard about GOTR in the past, and was so happy to see the program finally here in our community, giving our girls insight into their limitless possibilities!!

Laura Beyer
Community Relations Coordinator at Clark-Lindsey Village

Although born and raised in the Southwest Suburbs of Chicago, I decided to stick around the C-U area after graduating from the University of Illinois in Community Health and landing a full time position at Clark-Lindsey Village. At Clark-Lindsey, I have the opportunity to work with residents, co-workers, and community partners everyday on personal and organizational levels of growth and opportunity. When I'm not working, I love spending time with friends and family, running and staying active, and traveling. Why I became involved with GOTR: I had my first experience volunteering with Girls on the Run in Chicago over 6 years ago and have been waiting for the FUN to travel down to Champaign County ever since! Girls on the Run gives me the opportunity to share my energy and passion for growth and wellness with the AWESOME girls of Champaign County!

Jim Conlin

Bio coming soon!

Jen Davis
Stay at home mom

My family of 5 has lived in Champaign for 8 years now and we were very excited when the new YMCA opened. Now we are thrilled that Girls on the Run is coming to the Champaign community. We love Girls on the Run because it promotes positive choices and an active lifestyle in girls when they are at a very impressionable age!

Abby Franz
Speech-Language Pathologist

Why I became involved with GOTR: I've always been interested in health/fitness. When I heard about this program I knew I wanted to become involved. I love how this program is structured in a way that makes running a fun and enjoyable experience, all the while, improving self-confidence. I'm extremely excited to be a part of this program and see the impact it will have on the lives of many young girls in our community!

Ronda Holliman
Associate Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, Champaign County

As an Associate Judge, I am currently assigned to the criminal and traffic division, handling DUI's, traffic offenses, domestic violence, criminal forfeitures and orders of protection. I was appointed to the position in August of 2015 after serving as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois and Urbana Branch Supervisor. I started running for health and fitness late in life at the age of 38 years old. Now I run for fun, mind and body wellness and overall fitness! I have completed a half marathon and several 5k's. I run about 2-3 times a week. I believe running not only makes you physically fit, but builds a confidence you never knew you could gain. I look forward to being part of this organization and helping to guide girls to the confidence that sits within them. Remember You Get to Run Today!

Rebecca Guyette
Director of Leadership Giving, United Way

Why I became involved with GOTR: Providing young girls with an opportunity to build their self-esteem and confidence at an early age, while educating them on the importance of taking care of their bodies is critical. GOTR has proven itself as a program and organization that has figured out how to make this work and I am honored and thrilled to be a part of starting this in our community here.

Brooke Dider Starks
Attorney, Meyer Capel

I only wish that someone had thought up GOTR when I was in grade school! Instead of dreading the mile in gym, I could have embraced it. It was not until after having my children that I took up running for health and fitness. I quickly fell in love with it because it required no equipment, no skill and no scheduled gym time – I could just go outside and put one foot in front of the other. Now, 7 years later, I look forward to opportunities to decompress through running alone and also to the times I can involve my husband, Lee, and our kids, Mikane (11) and Reese (8) who have all completed at least one 5k with me!

Joni Utnage
Mortgage Loan Office, Busey Bank

I love running. I love the feeling it gives me when I accomplish a goal. I love the way running energizes me and keeps me healthy. I love meeting up with friends for run through the neighborhoods on a Saturday morning. For me, running is more than a “work-out”, it’s a way of life that not only keeps me in shape but builds confidence and friendships. Being able to share this with girls, inspired me to do all I can to grow this program in our community. Girls on the Run© provides our girls an opportunity build their confidence and self-esteem as they make friends, get in shape and have fun - all while they are accomplishing goals. Girls on the Run© shows girls that their dreams are limitless. I am excited to be a part of this program and am looking forward to the lives it will shape, change and grow.

Founder

Mary Konken

Mary founded Girls on the Run of Champaign County with the help of the Stephens Family YMCA. She learned about Girls on the Run from a brief move away from Champaign to Fort Wayne, IN. While in Fort Wayne she sat on the steering committee to help start Girls on the Run of Allen County. After the first seasons 5k, she fell in love with the program. Shortly after that she found out her family was moving back to Champaign and she knew she wanted to bring Girls on the Run to Champaign!

Prior to joining Girls on the Run of Champaign, Mary was a stay at home mom to three children. Before having children, Mary was a case manager for the Mental Health Center of Champaign County. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor degree in Psychology and Law & Society. Mary is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Champaign Urbana, where she served on the board of directors and chaired Festival of Trees.

What’s your favorite GOTR moment? Seeing the Girls cross the finish line at the 5k is something that will never get old and always bring tears to my eyes, but my favorite moment so far is the excitement that the C-U community has had for this program. We live a generous community and I can’t wait for them to see Girls on the Run in action!!!