Coach Spotlight – Alison Désir

May 10, 2018 2:20 pm Published by

I was zipping my way through Austin, Texas during South by Southwest® (SXSW®) when I spotted the bright red dome of the Under Armour activation. I mentally kicked myself for not having checked it out, but for anyone who has been to SXSW you know there are far too many activations to see and things to do.


Another time I thought. It also looked like it was closed to the public for some sort of corporate event. That’s cool. Been there, done that.


Just as I was about to leave a cohort of happy joggers clad in red came flashing by and headed into the activation. In their midst was a whirling beacon of energy and positivity. Her high fives seemed higher than most. Her words of encouragement more encouraging. The light in her eyes brighter.


Wait a minute I thought. I know that face. Quickly, quickly, quickly I urged my brain to remember how I know this woman.


Then it struck me. We had never met but I know her. We had never been introduced but I was motivated by her. She wouldn’t recognize me but, somehow, I felt a kinship.


Time to act.


I whisked to the security guard at the gate and lied convincingly, “That’s my friend Alison… do you mind if I say hi?”


Seconds later I was introducing myself to Alison Désir. Quickly, I explained who I was and how excited I was that she would be speaking at sponsorshipX this August. We had a great, but too brief, chat. Posed for some quick photos and then Alison was back to her duties promoting Under Armour. I walked away thrilled, my day complete.

This will be the fourteenth time I have staged my sponsorship marketing forum. But 2018 is a BIG year for the event. We have remodeled it as a global event and are thrilled to have speakers and delegates representing New Zealand, Germany, Canada, United States, and Great Britain. Our speakers are experts in blockchain, eSports, sponsorship marketing, brand building, leadership, event technology, and even surfing. More on that later! But a big priority for me is to ensure we have a closing speaker every year that will open your eyes to a slightly different world.


Alison Desir and Mark Harrison at SXSW


Enter Alison.


Or “Powdered Feet.” Powdered Feet? Yes, that is Alison’s nickname coming from a Haitian Kreyol saying which describes a person so active that you never see them, just the footprints of where they’ve been in powder.


That is Alison.


Named by Women’s Running as one of twenty women who is changing the sport of running and the world, Alison is the founder of Harlem Run (an NYC-based running movement) and Run 4 All Women. She just launched the podcast Finding Meaning (on the RUN) and she is currently featured alongside American Ballet Theatre® principal ballerina Misty Copeland, world champion sprinter Natasha Hastings, professional stuntwoman Jessie Graff, and Chinese taekwondo champion and actress Zoe Zhang (Lanxin Zhang) in Under Armour’s latest global campaign, “Unlike Any.”


“Unlike Any” is a campaign which celebrates and honours the unprecedented achievements of female athletes that rise above gender comparisons and stand on their own as marvels of athletic prowess. When Alison is not running, which we aren’t sure when that is, she is working to resolve and speaking passionately about issues related to women and girls.


She describes herself as


If you want a dose of inspiration that you can only find when a conference invites an activist to trek from Harlem to the mountainside of Whistler you need to come to sponsorshipX and meet my new friend Alison.

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This post was written by Mark Harrison