Alison shares the role of Merchandise Coordinator and basically shares a name with Alison Burnette. They are commonly referred to as “The Alisons.” Easy to remember, huh? This Hokie has an eye for color (which is perfect because no one else wants the pressure of selecting a T-shirt color!), as she previously co-owned an all-female interior painting company. Alison was introduced to the Sports Backers family when she joined the YMCA 10k Training Team in 2010. We loved her so much that we hired her to be the SAG Coordinator for the Marathon Training Team. But, seeing her only on Saturday and Sunday mornings wasn’t quite enough, so we propositioned her to help on the merchandise front. Thanks for saying yes, Alison!
Alison’s rockin’ personal style made a great first impression when we were looking for a new Retail Manager. But aside from an expert fashion sense, she’s also in the know on all things running from her three years as second-in-command at Roadrunner Running Store. Her eye for design is perfect for overseeing our apparel and merchandise, coordinating the design process for participant shirts and even picking out swatches for our workspace redesign. As the official “t-shirt fairy,” she brings Christmas to the office by hooking up our staff and committees with awesome event schwag.
Moving a lot as a military dependent must have helped fuel Cheryl’s love of travel and adventure because she is always on the go. Whether she’s gearing up for her next triathlon or implementing a running program in an area Title I school, she keeps her schedule straight. Cheryl came aboard the Sports Backers team to help expand our programs and our reach to underserved communities. It all started when she served as the head coach for the 10k Training Team at Richmond Community Hospital in the East End. After that, her duties have snowballed. We don’t know how she does it, but Cheryl stays stress free (except, of course, when she was asked to provide some fun facts about herself for the website).
This Development Manager traveled the United States and the world before coming to Richmond. She’s spent time in North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, and even Russia. But, according to Cindy, Richmond feels like home, as she grew up right down the road in Charlottesville. We’re hoping she’s settled here because we won’t be able to fulfill our mission of making Richmond the most active community in the country without her help raising the funds. She’s always busy writing grants, formulating case statements and researching foundations to strengthen our development efforts. We already know she’s a hard worker and she knows how to have a good time, too. When she’s not in the office, she’s likely spending time with her family and friends, running, traveling, or… you guessed it… skiing!
We love Dona. And not just because she cuts our paychecks every month. Armed with a degree from VT (go Hokies!) and loads of experience, this Accounting Manager can zip through spreadsheets that would leave most people dizzy. She’s always striving to keep us fiscally fit, managing budgets for our events, programs, and the organization as a whole. She’s also considered the sweetest person in the office – unless, of course, you procrastinate on your expenses (Ray!), in which case you don’t want to mess with her.
An active person herself, Faith not only sets a good example for her own two kids, but she’s making strides to impact kids throughout the entire community. As our Youth Programs Coordinator, she takes care of… wait for it… our youth programs! From the Richmond Times-Dispatch/Sports Backers Scholarship program to the Sports Backers Youth Running program and from the Virginia 529 Kids Run to the 10k Healthy School Challenge, Faith does it all. She’s also the first Sports Backers staffer to make the switch from a regular old workstation to a walking desk. But walking while she works is no big deal for this 10-year volunteer Marathon Training Team coach. She’s got incredible endurance (wink, wink O). On a side note: She’s known to bring in killer potato leek soup from time to time.
Whether she’s captaining her dodge ball team to the championship or working tirelessly to get our events’ and sponsors’ names up in lights, you can always count on Jackie to bring her A-game. One of the most creative and organized people we know, this PR and Communications Manager really can do it all: from designing collateral materials to writing killer news pieces, planning media events, and more! She also happens to be the official meeting wrapper-upper (“allllllright, great job guys!”) and the owner of the office candy jar… we seriously couldn’t function without her.
It’s a good thing Jeff would rather be in running shoes than sitting behind a desk, because as Director of Sponsorship and Development, he’s constantly on the go. Whether he’s courting the local business community or forming partnerships on a national level, Jeff has a way with people and a knack for building relationships. If he’s not training for his latest triathlon, he’s working around the clock to secure sponsors for our events and programs, so it’s no wonder he’s rarely seen without a coffee in hand! He might humbly say that our events can sell themselves, but we all know he’s just good at what he does. Extreeemely good.
As Sponsorship Manager, Jen organizes and oversees the execution of all things sponsorship-related at Sports Backers’ events including signage, hospitality, and promotions. This basically boils down to the fact that she can juggle a million tasks at once and has killer attention to detail. She has calendars and lists out the wazoo, and just showing the girl an organized spreadsheet brings a smile to her face (Weird, huh?). We’re so glad Jen was sold on Richmond and ready to move here after running the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in 2005 because having Jen aboard the Sports Backers team is a win-win for all of us.
From instructing us on the proper packing method for event trucks to leading us in fiercely competitive rounds of Trivial Pursuit, this Event Operations Manager is always willing to fill any necessary role. He not only works tirelessly to keep our warehouse and equipment in mint condition, but he also researches new events and manages rentals of our Indoor Sports Tournament Center, which supplies equipment to tons of local tourneys. Most importantly, his alter ego Dan McGirt keeps us abreast of local weather forecasts for upcoming events.
Jon says he’s the Chief Urgency Creator. We’d just call him the Fire Starter… because that’s what he’s constantly lighting under our you-know-whats. As Executive Director, he motivates us to create, support and produce events and programs that keep the community physically active. And while this goes hand-in-hand with traditional ED duties of monitoring our finances, integrity and strategic direction, what we all love about Jon is his willingness to get his hands dirty. So don’t be surprised if you see him standing knee-deep in canal muck or hauling barricade in Monroe Park. He may be the boss man, but he has no problem hanging with the rest of us Sports Backers peeps.
Raising four teenagers has forced Lisa to get comfortable with a fast-paced lifestyle. It’s a good thing because we count on her as Event Director to manage the “controlled” chaos at the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, Anthem Richmond Marathon and Connects Federal Credit Union Corporate 4-Miler. She’s gotten reallllly good at reverting to Plan B when Plan A doesn’t come together as planned, and trust us when we say – this happens pretty frequently in the event planning world! Either way, it takes an organized person to pull together the logistical and operational details of events, and we couldn’t be happier to have Lisa on our team.
A true Southern belle (notice the double name?), this Volunteer Coordinator uses her charm and grace to recruit fun and energetic helpers for all of our events. But Mary Marshall doesn’t just recruit helping hands; her expertise in Southern hospitality keeps them coming back year after year – even if they had to sort through muddy shoes in total darkness or work water stops in a hurricane. And for an organization that relies on the time and talents of over 4,500 volunteers, that’s a big deal, y’all!
Hailing from Seattle, "U Dub" grad Max Hepp-Buchanan was brought on the SB team to lead the effort in making RVA a more bike- and ped-friendly region. He brings with him a ton of experience from the 2.5 years he spent working at the nation's largest membership-based cycling club, the Cascade Bike Club.
In his role as Bike Walk RVA Director, Max will be rallying the troops (i.e. local governments, bike organizations, transportation officials, and other interested individuals) to support and encourage the construction of more safe, convenient, and comfortable places for everyone to ride a bike. He'll also be heading up annual programs that encourage biking and walking.
Advocacy... Grassroots... Infrastructure... That's all in his wheelhouse. Get it? "WHEEL" house? Get to know Max because you'll be seeing him around, likely biking down city streets, riding around the trails, or even walking through his Bellevue neighborhood with his wife, Anna, and their baby Lars.
As Event Director for our field hockey tourneys, Henricus Dauber Dash and Dominion Riverrock, Megan has a way of keeping us on top of our game. It must come from her competitive days as Randolph-Macon’s star point guard and the 2006 Division III Player of the Year. But don’t be too intimidated; she’s extremely humble and would much rather put our events in the spotlight than be in it herself. She does a great job mentoring our interns, and her dynamic and energetic attitude has landed her the leadership role for our new ActiveRVA initiative.
Growing up, Meghan lettered in softball, basketball, soccer and indoor track. These days, she remains a multi-sport threat by serving as Event Director for the Times-Dispatch Go! Discover Richmond, the WhatIfCreditUnions.com Dragon Boat Festival and the Anthem Moonlight Ride. And if she’s not swamped with work managing the expos and finish festivals for our two largest events, you can find this passionate Mountaineer in the stands of a WVU football or basketball game.
Molly may be from the boondocks, but she is certainly in touch with the latest trends in the digital world. She’s a Google AdWords whiz, a master of the ever-changing Facebook, and she’s even Google Analytics Certified. Who even knew that was a real thing? We sure didn’t! Molly is our Digital Marketing Assistant, and she’s darn good at what she does. Her passion for running and ability create 50 ads a minute (okay, not really…) landed her here at Sports Backers, and we’re so lucky to have her.
After interning for the Sports Backers in 2009, Pete is back for more. He’s taken on the role of Event Production Assistant, coordinating all of the entertainment for our events (and that’s no small task considering we have more than 30 bands on our 10k course!). He is pretty good at thinking on his feet and we like to think that’s because he’s an accomplished soccer player from Virginia Tech. He also has stellar writing skills, so you can frequently find him contributing to PULSE and other community publications. With a Master’s degree in Sports Administration from the VCU Center for Sport Leadership under his belt, Pete is a valuable addition to the team.
Ray isn’t called the Manager of Community Affairs for nothing! He has ties to just about everyone in Richmond, including police officers, government officials, business owners, and even operators of all the local coffee shops (where you can likely find him hiding out on event days!). He knows the city like the back of his hand, so when we need permission to shut down the streets, he doesn’t just make it happen – he helps you navigate through the chaos. Ray works hard to keep the people happy, so if it means taking flowers to a disgruntled neighbor who woke up to a port-a-john in her front yard on 10k morning, he’s all over it. And while he might not be the first one to turn in his monthly timesheet, we can count on him to submit our insurance forms in plenty of time.
Scott may live and breathe registration numbers, but his livelihood depends on it. Okay, not really – he’s an 18-year Sports Backers vet, so it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere anytime soon. As Marketing Director, Scott is responsible for the integrated marketing campaigns of the entire organization and all of its events. Scott also oversees our communications program and manages our ever-changing website. This family man is a big fan of the holidays. During the Christmas season, he invites the staff to his neighborhood for a tacky light run. On New Year’s Eve, you’ll find him hanging on his couch refreshing the RaceIt website, tracking the 10k registration rate by the minute. And on Halloween, look for him in Chipotle wrapped up like a burrito in one of our marathon heat sheets to win a free lunch. Anything for freebies, right?
Tasha works to get Richmond up and running as our Training Team Coordinator for the Sports Backers’ marathon, half marathon, 10k and 8k training programs. From recruiting enthusiastic volunteer coaches (and showering them with gifts to keep ‘em coming back!) and securing meeting locations for the groups to ordering the training guides and participant shirts, she’s the go to girl for everything training team related. As a former training team member, Tasha is the team’s biggest fan and can make just about anyone a believer in the program.
Maybe the fact that Townley is part of a huuuuge extended family (over 80 first and second cousins!) is the reason she’s able to build and maintain relationships with so many folks in the community. As Director of Event Development, she's the main point of contact for local entities involved in sports tourism including the RMCVB, Parks & Recreation departments, the counties, and other major partners. She’s the brains behind developing and recruiting new events for Richmond – both Sports Backers owned and outside events. Her thoroughness and attention to detail often land her the lead on major office projects, which is why she's in charge of managing the Sports Tourism Grant Program. We just know we can trust her to get the job done! And as if all her duties in the office don’t occupy enough of her time, her home is ruled by a high-energy toddler. . . who may or may not be more proficient with an iPad than she is.
So Will has never been a mascot, competed in the Olympics, run 100 miles through the Himalayas, or played football with a cow. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a jack of all trades. As our Event Manager, Will oversees tons of details for all of our events. In addition to researching new events and managing logistics for our existing ones, he’s also the hotel hookup, the registration guru, and (is it safe to say?) the face behind email@example.com. So aside from having the patience of a saint, Will’s solid work ethic and incessantly sunny disposition make him the perfect fit for our team.