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GABRIELA (Gaby) ESTRADA (she/her)

Executive Director

As the Executive Director of Fast and Female, I oversee all operations and strategy for the organization. I work closely with the Board of Directors to determine our yearly budget and financial plan, collaborating with our leadership team to identify our targets and goals for our four areas of focus: programming, communications, fund development and operations. 

Your sport background 

Soccer, running and fitness 

Your favourite sport/ physical activity

Strength training! Deadlifts and squats are my favourites.

Your favourite post-workout snack

Fruit smoothie – Booster Juice’s High Impact is my go-to

Your favourite pump-up song

Either a bachata song or old-school reggaeton

Who is your role model and why?

This is a tough one as I don’t have a singular role model. There are many incredible people and women I look up to in my network and circle who are powerhouses and have battled so many barriers to build their success. This includes colleagues, other women in sports leadership, academics and a few others!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I have huge respect for my family – many of whom immigrated to Canada with next to nothing to build a new life to support myself, my siblings and my cousins. I also love to hear the stories and learn of women of colour who are breaking barriers daily, both in and out of sport.

I do have three groups that inspired me to start working in sports and advocating for girls and women: the first is the U12 group of girls I coached in my early 20s, which was the first team I ever coached. Our team went from losing many games at the start of the season to winning the entire thing, through a focus on building relationships with one another and becoming a true team. This group sparked my passion for coaching and leading. The second group is the first women’s team I coached at UTSC, my alma mater. This team taught me to be a better coach and I learned so much from them – they were also the inspiration behind my Master’s research. And last but not least is my OG group of participants from KEEPONMOVINGTO – a girl’s movement group I started in 2016. They were a group of 8 girls, aged 12-14, who I still keep in contact with to date. They inspired me to really dedicate my career to girls and women in sport and advocate for equity, better quality and accessibility to quality sport and physical activity experiences, especially for girls of equity-denied communities. 

What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?

I often think of walking with my 12-year-old self and putting myself in her shoes: what were the things that mattered to her then? How would I prepare her for the things to come? And then I think of all the things I could tell her we’ve succeeded in and done. I think of being that role model for my 12-year-old self that I never had – a strong and authentic Latina. If I had the opportunity to talk to my 12-year-old self, I’d tell her three things:

  1. Never stop believing in yourself. You are going to break barriers and be the first of many in your family. It will feel like a huge and heavy responsibility, but you can and will succeed.
  2. Put yourself first. Take care of yourself, invest in you, and build boundaries. You don’t need to say yes to everyone and you cannot be everything to everyone. Protect your space, your peace, and your light.
  3. Save your money!!!!!!!

And then I’d give her a big hug!!

How did you first get involved with Fast and Female?

Started as a Role Model in 2016. I had done research on organizations that focused on girls and women in sport and found F&F! Went from being a RRM to an Event Coordinator in 2018 and then joined the core team as the Event Manager in August 2018. Since then, I’ve been the Event and Research Manager, Program Manager, Program Director and now the Executive Director. 

Your favourite 2023 Fast and Female event or memory?

We had the opportunity to run two in-person multi-week programs in 2023, for the first-time ever. One was in Durham and one was in downtown Toronto – both in Ontario. I had the chance to lead a session for Durham and then support two sessions in Toronto. In Durham, for me, the moments where I got to see some of the participants open up a bit more and share really had my heart. There was one participant in particular who kept looking at me and smiling during part of the session and it reminded me of how much it means to someone to know that there is someone in the room they are in who sees them, who knows they matter, and is doing what they can to make them feel included and valued. The program in downtown Toronto was at a facility I used to work in and seeing Fast and Female in that space, working with their youth, also brought so much joy to me. 

I could honestly go on – high fiving girls crossing the finish line at Girls Run, seeing girls rush to get Jamie-Lee Rattray’s autograph in Ottawa; our online virtual programs and workshops, seeing girls sharing their experiences and stories: every single opportunity we created in 2023 was about providing a space for girls to feel seen and valued. They were all my favourites.