MEET Toni Carey
Meet Toni Carey, founder of Keeping Balanced, and a girl that’s constantly walking the tightrope between work, life, and staying healthy. You could say that Keeping Balanced has been 33 years in the making, as she’s always considered herself a student of understanding life’s higher purpose while navigating the day-t0-day demands of life.
She started her career in public relations and marketing, working with the top agency is the Southeast, before venturing into corporate communications at a Fortune 500 company. But, after finding running in 2008, and subsequently co-founding Black Girls RUN!, a nationwide movement to empower and encourage African-American women to get fit she found herself in the middle of her own work/life balance crisis. Between launching a new company, being newly married, and relocating several times, her health started to take a downward spiral, leaving her completely depleted.
I was enamored with this idea of work/life balance and pursued it relentlessly. But, I think we as society have made this idea of balance as driving ourselves into the ground so that we achieve it all. The truth is, is less of a balance and more of a blend, and quite frankly, tough sacrfices have to be made. However, complete happiness and being fulfilled are still achieveable. Just in a way that you might not think.
It wasn’t until was let go from her seemingly dream job that she realized how out of balance she truly was. She began to slowly, but surely rebuild her life in a way that was more fulfilling and complete, physically, spiritually, and mentally. What became a two-year journey led her to create Keeping Balanced, a way to further explore the true meaning of work/life balance, while helping others in their own journey to reclaim their time, health and sanity.
MORE ABOUT TONI CAREY
If you would have asked Toni Carey, where she would be at the age of 33, she certainly wouldn’t say the co-founder of one of the largest wellness movements in the African-American community. At the age of seven, she was sure she was going to be a lawyer.
But, as life often has its twists and turns, the Nashville, Tennessee native would not only co-found Black Girls RUN!, a national running organization for African-American women, but she would become one of the leading voices in African-American women’s health and minority participation in the running and outdoor industries.
Born from a family of entrepreneurs, and a long-time lover of wordsmithing, she attended Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tenn., graduating with a with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications with concentrations in Public Relations and Advertising and minors in Marketing and Spanish. While attending MTSU, she joined the prestigious Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and interned with several leading public relations and marketing agencies in the Southeast.
After graduating in 2006, she was recruited to work with DVLSeigenthaler (formerly Dye, VanMol & Lawrence Public Relations) (Nashville, Tenn.) working with consumer brands such as Martha White Foods, Jack Daniel’S, and Shoney’s Restaurants. Wanting to explore other opportunities, she left DVLSeigenthaler to pursue a Master’s Degree and career in corporate communications while working with Avis Budget Group, Inc., a Fortune 500 Company in Parsippany, NJ as a corporate communications and industry relations specialist.
It was during her transition to New Jersey, that she found her love and passion for health and wellness….or rather it found her. Coming out of a terrible breakup, she decided that her move to New Jersey would signal the start of a new chapter in her life, and what better way to start fresh than to become a vegetarian. She took PETA’s “30 Day Veg” pledge and read Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, while heavily researching the impact of food (particularly meat) on the body and environment. During this time, she was also introduced to running by her friend and future business partner Ashley Hicks-Rocha, becoming fascinated with the distance running culture. However, she quickly realized that there was a huge lack of diversity (both of women and African-Americans) in long distance running.
After being shunned by white-dominated running groups, feeling isolated at road races, and being told by her mother that “running is for white girls” and that her uterus was guaranteed to fall out, Toni developed the concept of Black Girls RUN! and invited Ashley to join her in co-creating a blog. For years the two blogged about their journey to becoming runners, while dispelling myths around health and fitness in the African-American community. While the plan was to ultimately co-pen a book, the two invited other women on the journey to making distance running more mainstream in the black community, while empowering and encouraging African-American women to live a healthy and active lifestyle, launching Black Girls RUN! running groups across the United States. Starting with just 20 running groups in the Spring of 2011, the concept went viral and instantly became a nationwide phenomena commanding the attention of the running and outdoor industries and mainstream media.
To date Black Girls RUN! has 70 groups across the country with more than 225,000 members. Toni has been recognized by numerous publications and organizations including:
- Listed on the 2012 Power 100 List by Ebony Magazine
- Listed on the Grio’s 100 list
- Named one of the “30 Black Bloggers You Should Know” by The Root
- Named Essence Magazine’s “35 Under 35: Young Black and Amazing Women
- Received Toyota’s Standing O-Vation Award presented at Oprah’s 2014 “The Life You Want” Weekend in Atlanta
- Recognized as the “50 Most Influential People in Running by Runner’s World Magazine
Additionally, she has be interviewed and featured in print and broadcast media including:
- Black Girls RUN! Founder Reflects On Building A Supportive Community – ESPNW
- Black Runners Are Changing the Face of the Sport – The Wall Street Journal
- Running community cites boom among black Americans – USA Today
- Black Man Running Group Races To Change Racial Stereotypes – NPR
Most recently, she served as the Brand Marketing Director of Camber Outdoors (formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)) and was on the board of Girls on the Run Atlanta.
She currently splits her time between Black Girls RUN!, freelance writing, and launching her own web property, Keeping Balanced, focused on helping women find balance in their everyday lives. You can learn more about Toni Carey and her projects by going to tonicarey.com.
ABOUT BLACK GIRLS RUN!
In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks-Rocha created Black Girls RUN! in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage ALL (especially African-American women) to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80% of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently, lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. To date the organization has 70 groups across the country and more than 225,000 members.