We’ve all heard the proverb, “birds of a feather flock together”, but if 2020 taught us anything, we fly further when that flock includes the support of a variety of feathers. At the end of 2020, our Volée Team Manager, Carolyn Gardner took a deep look at the Volée and asked the question - what are we doing to be an inclusive team of all types of birds?

During a season when it feels like time stands still, our Volée team is evolving and growing. In times of solitude, we’ve found creative ways to connect, learn, and develop relationships. We’ve embraced having hard discussions on racism within the sport, and are being intentional with inclusive actions. One of my big goals in 2021 as the Volée Team Manager is to invite, include and represent as many different women as possible so that the growing diversity of the sport within our Volée team is visible.

I know what you might be thinking - that sounds great on paper, but where do you begin? It starts with a strong foundation of Volée local team leaders. The Volée is a collective of fitness-minded women representing all races, faces, ages, abilities, and paces. We work on a regional level with a group of local team leaders who facilitate opportunities to network, engage, and when possible run together - this is the true team experience. So, as 2020 came to a close, I took an honest look at our leader team and asked myself, is representation reflected in those creating the team’s engagement opportunities, and if not, then are we fully serving the team? How will we attract new members if they don’t see themselves in others? Can we continue to grow with fresh ideas and perspectives?

Are we fully serving the team? How will we attract new members if they don’t see themselves in others? Can we continue to grow with fresh ideas and perspectives?

After a bit of reflection, it was time to start the dialogue and begin the process of reorganizing. Through this process, we brought on many new regional leaders (over 50%) while providing a place for our long-term leaders to step into a supportive role. We’ve placed leaders in new locations to better serve our evolving community. We’ve deliberately chosen women who are actively making a difference in their local community. We’ve brought on even more Women of Color to ensure our decisions and meetups reflect a broader group of needs and experiences.

I am excited to introduce you to the 2021 Volée leader team. This group includes women who came to the sport at different times in their life, women who have varying life experiences, and women from races and backgrounds that represent our team.

But you can’t just reorganize your team without setting them up for success, right? Part of this reorganization includes my commitment to offer support, ensuring all leaders have the tools they need to provide the Volée a consistent experience no matter where you live. In addition to extensive training on DEI expectations, community building, and communication we are also offering the support of a Leader Advisory Team. These advisors include women from a variety of professions and running experiences who have invested many years with our Volée community. They will mentor and support our new leaders while encouraging them to step out and try new ideas.

As we begin 2021, we are more than likely entering as a new person. Goals have shifted, maybe even changed. Relationships are more important to many of us. The inclusiveness of a brand, race, and community will guide our decisions. I have no doubt this team will bring the energy, love, and support that we all need.

Interested in joining the Oiselle Volée? Membership is now open and we would love to have you join us!

Carolyn Gardner
Tagged: team


I love what you’re doing and your products. Keep your eye on the DEI ball; it’s harder to do than we think.

— Karen Noble