Alicia Gonzalez, Founding Executive Director
Alicia is from Chicago (Pilsen and Little Italy communities) and is the Founding Executive Director of Chicago Run. She helped launch Chicago Run as the first staff member in 2008 and has built and led the organization to its current size of serving over 17,000 students in 43 Chicago Public Schools in 28 low-income neighborhoods across the city – a 750% program participant growth and a 450% budget increase. Prior to Chicago Run, Alicia served as the head of Hispanic Business Development for First American Bank, where she oversaw the expansion of private-public partnerships in the Latino community. Alicia’s roots are in the community and prior to working in the private sector, she held positions as a community organizer and youth development program director in both Chicago and Boston. In addition to Chicago Run, she serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy, and is also on the Board of Directors for Heartland Alliance Human Care Services, the Advisory Board for Good Sports Foundation, the Board of the Chicago Life Science Consortium and the Enlace Legacy Board. Alicia is a recipient of the 2016 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition Community Leadership Award, the recipient of the “Latina Entrepreneur of the Year (2012)” from the Chicago Latino Network, a recipient of the "35 Under 35 Chicago Leadership" Award (2009) from the Community Renewal Society, and the "2009 Emerging Health Leader" from the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group. Most recently, Alicia was a part of the 2016 Aspen Institute Health Scholars program and was selected to participate in the 2016-2017 German Marshall Memorial Fellowship program. Alicia is a graduate of Stanford University Business School’s Non-Profit Executive Leadership Program, a fellow in the 2013-2014 American Express NGEN Fellows Program with the Independent Sector, a Fellow in the 2011 Leadership Greater Chicago Class, and a fellow in the 2012 Latino Leadership Academy with the Latino Policy Forum. Alicia graduated with honors in Latin American History from Brown University. An avid runner herself, Alicia has completed seven marathons since 2004, including qualifying and participating in two Boston Marathons. Alicia lives in Humboldt Park and in her spare time enjoys yoga, hiking, art, and politics.
Alex Landberg, Deputy Director
Alex grew up in Northern California. He graduated with a degree in marketing from California State University, Chico, where he also ran track. After graduation, Alex worked in the special events department at Major League Soccer in New York City, but it was his passion for coaching that lead him to a career in sports-based youth development. Alex has been coaching for more than 10 years, and has been with Chicago Run since 2011. He is part of the Up2Us National Training team and also serves on the America SCORES Chicago Development Board.
Colleen Hentschel, Office & Finance Manager
Colleen grew up in Michigan and attended Indiana University. She graduated with a degree in Kinesiology with minors in Business and Music and later earned her Master of Arts in Teaching. Upon graduating, Colleen interned at NBC in corporate fitness and then worked in various corporate fitness centers presenting health seminars and developing health initiatives, personal training, and instructing spinning, kickboxing, and various group exercise classes while training for and running two half marathons. After volunteering with By the Hand, an afterschool tutoring program in Cabrini Green, Colleen felt inspired to join TFA in 2009 as a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Healthy Lifestyles teacher on the south side of Chicago and has since then, co-coached Girls on Track and continued in the classroom as both a preschool and 2nd grade teacher. Colleen loves living in Chicago and exploring its many amazing restaurants, spending time with her family, and traveling the world.
Lauren Shirk, Communications and Creative Design Manager
Lauren was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from Ohio State University in 2010, she spent a year in London attaining her Master’s degree in Art Business. She moved to Chicago in 2012 to work as an accounts manager at a fine art auction house. She realized her interest in non-profit work while volunteering for a community-based organization on the North West side of Chicago. Lauren participated in softball, volleyball, and cheerleading in high school and has continued to keep up an active lifestyle, running several races in Chicago. She looks forward to running the 2017 Chicago Marathon as part of Team Chicago Run. Lauren is passionate about Chicago Run's mission, and enjoys being able to combine her interest in creative design with her fundraising experience and enthusiasm for fitness. Lauren lives in Bucktown and enjoys hiking, yoga, and traveling.
Debra Michaels, Development Manager
Debra is a native New Yorker and graduated in June 2009 from Northwestern University with a BA in Psychology and Political Science. Debra has spent her career in fundraising, volunteer management and community engagement at local Chicago area nonprofits. She joined Chicago Run in August 2016, after spending nearly 6 years at Cara, an organization that helps individuals secure quality employment. She has experience managing a major gift portfolio, leadership boards, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, marketing/communication, and leading the volunteer and engagement strategy for scaling nonprofits. Debra is an active member of the Chicago nonprofit community, and currently serves on the Social Enterprise Alliance Program Committee, and is earning her MBA at Chicago Booth in the part time evening program. Debra has a passion and love of building partnerships to empower individuals and communities. Debra brings tremendous enthusiasm for Chicago Run’s mission, and as the Development Manager focuses on raising critical funding and developing meaningful relationships to support the strategic growth of the organization. Debra is an active yogi, dancer, and spin enthusiast.
Njeri Parker, Marathon Charity Team and Volunteer Coordinator
Njeri’s passion for helping youth receive the necessary tools to succeed in life was sparked at a very young age, as a member of non-profit in New York City, where she grew up. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Education, Njeri served two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Schuler Scholar Program. Following her two years of service, Njeri continued to support the success of first-generation high school students as the Development and Communications Associate at Pass With Flying Colors. Njeri is thrilled to join the Chicago Run team as the Marathon Charity Team and Volunteer Coordinator. She looks forward to supporting the fundraising efforts of runners who are invested in giving back to Chicago students. Outside of work, Njeri loves going to storytelling events, doing yoga, and growing as a donut connoisseur.
Crystal Hassinger, Program Director
Crystal grew up near St. Louis, MO. She graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in Sport Management and an emphasis in Business Development. Crystal has spent her career working in sport related industries with a focus on using sport as a tool for youth to develop social and emotional learning skills. She joined Chicago Run as Program Director in 2017, after spending more than three years with the Chicago Fire Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. With the Chicago Fire Foundation, Crystal played an intricate role in expanding programming by 150%, establishing a young professionals board, and assisting the Foundation in winning multiple grants and awards such as the Beyond Sport, Sport Team of the Year. Crystal has always been passionate about sports and has a strong belief that skills and lessons learned through sport translate into the classroom and real-life settings. She grew up a runner, participating in both cross country and track and field and will be running her second marathon this year. In her free time, Crystal enjoys being active outdoors, volunteering, and exploring new local restaurants.
Ryan Greguske, L.A.C.E. Up! and Running Mates Program Manager
Ryan grew up in Germantown, WI, a suburb to the northwest of Milwaukee. After high school he went on to attend the University of Minnesota and earn a degree in Physiology. At the U of M, Ryan developed a true love for helping various Minneapolis/St. Paul communities by participating in non-profit work, volunteering, and student organizations. In addition, Ryan enjoyed coaching youth basketball and discovered that seeing kids develop their skills on and off the court is a really amazing feeling. Ryan lives in Lincoln Park and enjoys his free time by running, playing hockey and basketball, reading, and spending quality time with family and friends.
Noelia Fraga, Coach Across America Coach
Noelia was born and raised in Chicago. She attended Knox College and graduated with a degree in Psychology in 2014. During high school and college, she worked with a non-profit organization teaching circus arts to children in the Pilsen and Back of the Yards neighborhoods. After college, Noelia found an interest in fitness and nutrition, and wanted to dedicate her life to healthy habits. Becoming a coach for Chicago Run brought her passions for working with the youth and fitness together. Noelia lives in Garfield Ridge, and in her free time enjoys Zumba, yoga, and spending time with friends and family.
Jackie Webb, Coach Across America Coach
Jackie grew up in a suburb right outside Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado with a degree in Politics and Government with an emphasis in Pre-Law and a minor in Sociology. During her four years at WSCU Jackie started and ran the WSCU Dance Team. In her spare time she mentored local girls through a Partners program and volunteered at Title 1 schools in Aurora, Colorado. From a young age, Jackie has been passionate about serving her community, especially children, in any way she could. She has always been active and very passionate about sports, playing basketball and running track in high school and coaching basketball camps for the past six years. She is very excited about her recent move to Chicago and to join the Chicago Run team and make a difference in the schools. Jackie lives in Rogers Park with her dog Nala and they enjoy exploring their new city through her hobby of photography.
Joel Yoder, Mennonite Voluntary Service Program Coordinator
Joel was born and raised in Goshen, IN, a small city in northern Indiana. He attended Goshen college where he earned his degree in Exercise Science, played soccer, and served as the intern for the IU Health Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program at Goshen Hospital. During his four years, Joel's interest in exercise led him to coach youth in settings such as sports camps, Special Olympics practices, and serve as an assistant to Mission Athletics located in Elkhart, IN. Following life in Goshen, Joel joined the Mennonite Voluntary Service Program and arrived in Chicago due to his interest in being placed with Chicago Run. Joel is passionate about enriching the lives of others through physical activity and exercise. When he is not playing soccer or basketball, Joel enjoys running, cycling, resistance training, swimming, and trying to remain active wherever he can.