Alison Desir

Founder of Harlem Run and changemaker


AGE 31
LOCATION Harlem, New York
OCCUPATION Changemaker


Meet Alison

As a child, Alison’s nickname was “powdered feet,” which is a Haitian creole term for somebody that never stays still, you just see their footprints in powder. As it turns out, the name was prescient. Alison has always been going places, from her days in high school (named “Most Likely to Succeed”) through her Master’s from Columbia University, she has always been the one to step up, volunteer and take action.

This whirlwind of a lady was really active and ran in high school and college. She didn’t, however, return to running until she saw that a friend was training for a marathon. It was to raise funds for a nonprofit organization and so Alison signed up. At the time, Alison had been battling with depression and she ultimately found the experience transformative.

As she started becoming a runner, she connected with other runners and realized that the support for each other was strong in the running clubs. Soon, she started her own running group, initially named Powdered Feet Run Club. It didn’t take off at the beginning but a few months in, someone offered her the name and website for Harlem Run and she made the change. It was at that moment that everything clicked into place.

Harlem Run became a powerful calling for her and resonated with the community. It was about transforming and empowering urban communities to get fit. The mission extended beyond running to nutrition, education and creating a space for everyone. Now, without a doubt, Alison believes that “running is a vehicle for social change.”

She’s an Under Armour sponsored athlete, has been featured on Women’s Running and most recently, gained notoriety for organizing a run from Harlem to DC during January 2017’s Women’s March on Washington.

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