Meet The Founders
Meet The Founders
We are Kenya and Michelle, the two founders behind the Outdoor Journal Tour (ODJT) and the #wehiketoheal movement! ODJT is a hybrid wellness organization that encourages women all over the world to tap into the healing and empowering influences within themselves, their communities and the great outdoors!
First, we’ll share a little history on our organization and how we got started, then we’ll share more about Kenya and Michelle individually.
We started back in 2015, by accident… well not by accident, because nothing is truly an accident, right – we create our reality. We were newlyweds, in our early thirties and were legit in a QUARTER-LIFE crisis (if you don’t know what a QL crisis is, google it – better yet, read Kenya’s first book Empty Space). We were looking for meaning in our lives and honesty just trying to find our place in the world.
One hot day in June, we found ourselves at the summit of Stone Mountain with a couple of friends, who were also searching for their place in the world. Our eyes were closed, Kenya was leading us in meditation (cause that’s the kind of thing she does) and when we opened our eyes, 2 women – 2 Black women, had joined us and immediately asked how they can join the “program”. First thought, where they do that at?? Second thought, what program?? Long story short, we realized very quickly- that our quest could absolutely be a “program”. If we were searching, and these 2 new friends were searching, certainly there had to be more women out there that needed this too.
The rest is history!
We quickly agreed that when women come together to create a community around mindfulness, self-care and the Great Outdoors, beautiful things happen! So when we host events, our aim is to do exactly that! Our events typically follow a Hike, Journal, Meditate structure, but we also incorporate other activities that allow introspection, such as, yoga, sister circles, workshops and more!!
A little more about Kenya…
Kenya is the Cleveland-bred, Atlanta-fed, co-founder of our beloved outdoor community. She is a certified energy healer, four-time published author, TEDx speaker and coach. Her formal education is in psychology, sociology and policy analysis. Prior to discovering her love of outdoor spaces, she was a nonprofit professional and consultant for 8 years. At ODJT, she serves as the Chief Experience Officer—which is just a fancy way of saying she oversees the mindfulness experience on our hikes/events and create/ideate the content for our courses, journals, and sister circle activities. When she’s outside, Kenya enjoys warm, moderate summits with dope views and plenty of space to sit, talk, and journal. Kenya also enjoys water activities like kayaking and “pretending to swim.” And while she loves a good campfire conversation, you won’t see her on too many camping trips—Kenya prefers beds over bags if you catch the drift. In her free time, she enjoys extreme patio-sitting, Olympic cocktail tasting, as well as discussing, watching, and reading anything about quantum physics and planets. (she calls it “star stuff”). She’s a writer at heart and loves to share her words with the world.
A little bit more about Michelle…
Michelle is the daughter of Thomas and Petra and big sister to Nicole. She was born in Aurora, Colorado – but barely took her first steps there because her father got orders for PCS back to Germany by the time she was 9 months old. She grew up very close with her Mother’s side of the family and learned German at an early age. Michelle’s Mom sent her to school with liverwurst sandwich’s … 10-year-old Michelle would have killed for a Lunchable or a regular old ham and cheese! She had B cups and thick thighs by 5th grade, 11, 12, 13 – 18-year-old Michelle would have done anything for a smaller frame. She spent most of her childhood trying to fit in. The funny thing is, everyone did. But beyond all of that her family + chosen “family” love her something fierce, as does she!
By the time Michelle graduated from high school, she had a plan to get herself stateside for college. Moving to another country without her family was the hardest thing she’s ever done, but now she understands that was a part of her journey. She needed to figure out who the whole of her was/is.
In college, she studied Marketing and came out of the closet. Her love for the outdoors came later. It started with group runs with Black Girls Run! and neighborhood walks and grew from there. She visited her first National Park in 2016 (the Grand Canyon) and was hooked. Since then, she’s checked off 8 more National Parks from her list, and continues to make plans to visit more!
While Kenya creates the content for ODJT, Michelle handles the execution of it all. She handles social media, scouts trails and does the bookkeeping. She likes to call herself the COO but wears many different hats! As tough as it is working with one’s spouse, Michelle and Kenya honestly make an amazing team.
Present-day Michelle is proud of her story, her unique perspective and thick thighs. She has so much gratitude for this never-ending journey, for the joy, the contrast, everything in between and everything to come.
So, that’s us…. that’s our why, our what and how! We’d love to hear more about you. What brings you to this community?
Hope to see you out on a trail soon (once it’s safe from covid of course).