2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Hashtag Intervention: Why #BlackGirlsRun

#sxsw #bgrsxsw


In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks created Black Girls RUN! ® to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African American community. The mission of BGR! is to encourage black women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. The organization’s presence on multiple social media sites has generated a name-turn-hashtag with a life of its own, becoming what could be viewed as one of the most successful public health interventions we've seen to date. Not only does the hashtag #blackgirlsrun clearly define an audience and behavior, it also serves as a link to online communities of support, motivation, and empowerment for women. This panel will examine how black women are engaging with social media to exchange news, tips, and support for each other on their quest to become healthier, happier women offline. Additionally, members of the BGR! team will discuss how being culturally specific in their mission and social marketing has contributed to their success.



Ashley Hicks

Chief Visionary Officer

Black Girls RUN

Ashley Hicks is the cofounder of Black Girls RUN!. The organization is a national running organization that encourages women to get up and be active. The group was started in 2009 and now has grown nationwide to inclde 60k+ members.

Native of Evans, Ga., Ashley attended and played soccer at Middle
Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She graduated in 2005 with a
Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications. She also received a
Master of Science in Communication from Columbia University in New York. She has
worked with WRDW-TV as a television director, the South Carolina Educational
Television as a producer – director and as a social media, communications manager for
a non-profit headquartered in New York. She currently works for Black Girls RUN! fulltime
and lives in Atlanta, Ga. with her fiancé. Ashley is getting married May 2014.


Felicia Harris

Doctoral Intern for New Media

University of Georgia

Felicia Harris is a health reporter from Columbus, Ga., carving a space in the academy. While pursuing her master’s degree in health and medical journalism, she developed a keen interest for digital storytelling and the use of social media in both creating and dispersing the news.

Her interests in social media and health inspired her to pursue a doctoral degree in mass communication. Now in her second year at Grady College at the University of Georgia, Felicia is investigating how social media tools can be used to aid public health interventions and health promotion targeted toward black women.

Although she enjoys conducting research on social media, she laments that she doesn’t spend hardly enough time on her own social media accounts. For now, she combats her F.O.M.O through her role as the doctoral intern for new media and social media community manager for a department of student affairs serving more than 7500 students at the University of Georgia.


Toni Carey

Chief Pavement Officer

Black Girls RUN

Toni Carey is the cofounder of Black Girls RUN!, a national running organization that has been tackling the growing obesity epidemic in the United States since 2009.

She is a native of Lebanon, Tennessee. Carey graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications with concentrations in Public Relations and Advertising and minors in marketing and Spanish. She also received a Master of Arts
and Science degree from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. She has worked with Dye, VanMol & Lawrence Public Relations in Nashville, Tenn., as anaccount executive and Avis Budget Group, Inc., a Fortune 500 Company located in Parsippany, N.J., as a corporate communications and industry relations specialist, as
well as a public relations and marketing agency in Norfolk, Va. She currently works for Black Girls RUN! full-time, lives in Atlanta, Ga. with her husband and two dogs, Legend and Cali.

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