By Kate Atwood

Run, Sue, run!

Sue Payne runs a lot in her life. She runs a household, she runs for a hobby, and she runs a unique program for young girls in Atlanta called Girls on the Run. She shares with Living by Giving about her passion for a healthy planet and healthy young lives. She also wants to make sure you understand that Girls on the Run is about much more than running.

Can you share a little about the mission of Girls on the Run? It really isn’t about “running” is it?

Our mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running.  It is much more than a running program.  We use exercise, positive reinforcement, and encouraging role models to help girls discover the confidence they need in those critical pre-teen years and beyond.

What led you to be the Executive Director of this organization?

I first heard about Girls on the Run through running friends and then again when a teacher started a team at my kids’ school. I became a volunteer coach in 2006 and later joined the staff as the program director. I have been in my current role as executive director for the Atlanta council for three and half years.

What do you love most about your job?

I feel very fortunate to be a part of Girls on the Run.  I believe in the mission and value what the organization is working towards and am proud to be a part of establishing a strong program in the Atlanta community. On a personal note, I am a runner and a mom and a highlight of my time with Girls on the Run has been the opportunity to run with my daughter and to share the program with her as her coach and as her mom. I also love working with volunteers.

You’ve decided to make a difference through your career. Can you share why giving back and helping others is such an important part of your life?

It was ingrained at an early age. My father was a small business owner who always worked hard to give back to the community.  The Girls on the Run community is a great group of people who are passionate about health and wellness, and inspiring a generation of confident young women. I want to be part of that community. Plus, I get in some great runs while on the job; life is good!

One of my favorite questions to ask is, “what is your Living by Giving dream?”  How would you most like to see the world changed for the better in your lifetime?

I dream of a healthy planet, a place where people do not judge each other or themselves by their own inhibitions but see the limitless potential in everyone’s uniqueness.

What are three things every girl in Atlanta should know about Girls on the Run?

1.)You do not have to be a runner to join Girls on the Run.

2.) Girls on the Run is about embracing your individual strengths!

3.) You will be amazed by what you can accomplish when you set a goal and put your mind to it!


What are three ways adults can get involved and help Girls on the Run?

1.) Volunteer – We always need coaches in order to reach more girls.

2.) Sponsor – We want every girl in Atlanta to have the opportunity to participate.

3.) Spread the word – Start a team in your community, school or park.

To find out how you can get involved, visit or follow Girls on the Run on Facebook. To find out more about Kate Atwood, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.