Jessie Zapo
Founder of Girls Run NYC
Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Jessie is empowering women through Girls Run NYC, a community that provides a foundation for distance running through track based training.

Jessie Zapo is the founder and coach of Girls Run NYC. She is also an art therapist for  youth and young adults, and enjoys cycling, painting and photography when she's not running.


What was your inspirations behind Girls Run NYC and Bkfastclub?  

I have found that running is a powerful connector-- and it's an incredible way to uplift yourself and others. I knew I wanted to create a women-only space, and so I started hosting pop-up runs for women, that I then, called "Girls Run With Me." The response was really positive and after a few months, it just morphed into Girls Run NYC.  It's been three years and going strong now. Girls Run NYC is a space where women can come and be themselves-- to run and move in a judgement-free space, but also to network, share struggles, triumphs and connect with one other.

How do you remain positive and strong when adversity hits? Who do you lean on for support?  

I have been through lots of ups and downs in my life, just like many people have.  I am the oldest of eight children, and we grew up in poverty in Northeastern Ohio. I learned to be self-sufficient early on but it was when I got a little older that I realized it is also just as important to trust and lean on others for support. That is actually a strength versus showing weakness.  I lean on my two captains from Girls Run NYC (Ameerah Omar and Rasheda Herndon) for support a lot. They are two incredibly strong, supportive and positive women who I love and admire. Together we are stronger!

What's your definition of wellness?  

My definition of wellness is being one’s best self mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Wellness is fluid and changes just like we, as humans, do but ideally it means taking care of oneself, one’s family, and one’s community.  Wellness is difficult if a community or society is not well, and we are struggling with that now in America. But, it starts with you first. Personal wellness first means that collective wellness can be possible. I am passionate about both.