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New York Road Runners Announces Two Senior Leadership Appointments and Executive Promotion

May 06, 2013

New York, May 6, 2013—John Gassner and Michael Rodgers have been named Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships and Vice President, Development and Philanthropy, respectively, and Jim Heim has been promoted to Vice President, Event Development and Operations, of New York Road Runners, it was announced today by NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.  Both appointments fill open slots.  

“John and Michael bring years of successful experience to NYRR, and we are so fortunate that these two talented and dynamic professionals are joining our executive team,” said Wittenberg. “As NYRR is poised to further elevate our partnership and development strategies, John and Michael will play key roles and be invaluable assets in our overall organizational growth in support of our mission.”

As Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, John will identify, cultivate, manage, and maintain prominent partnerships and recognize revenue opportunities. He will lead the business development team in strategic assessment of existing and potential sales channels and account partnerships, as well as ensure the execution of all aspects of sponsorship and media sales.

John comes to NYRR from ESPN following 10-years in a variety of senior roles. Most recently, John directed the sales efforts for ESPN International’s New York office, driving revenue to the company’s international channels and businesses. Prior to this, John spearheaded the commercial development of the X Games property outside the U.S., helping to launch events in Mexico, Brazil, and France.  At ESPN, John also helped lead sponsorship sales in the U.S. for major sports properties including NFL, MLB, and NBA. Prior to ESPN, John worked in sales and business development at media organizations, including the New York Times and News Corporation.     

As Vice President, Development and Philanthropy, Michael will guide and grow NYRR’s fundraising initiatives, comprised of individual donors, institutional and government donors, the official charity partners program and Team for Kids program. He will develop existing donor relationships with all of NYRR’s donor types and identify new opportunities to grow the donor base and increase revenue. Michael will manage numerous full and part-time staff and the Team for Kids coaches. He will also oversee NYRR’s fall benefit, spring and winter fundraisers, and various seasonal donor events.

Michael comes to NYRR from the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), where, as Vice President of Development, he led the effort to reinvigorate the organization's development department by combining his fundraising experience, passion for sports, advocacy, and civic engagement to implement industry best practices. Prior to WSF, Michael served as a Regional Vice President for CCS Fundraising, a top tier consulting firm offering a broad range of development and strategic services to the nonprofit community. During his ten years at the firm, he worked with more than 60 nonprofit organizations, assisting clients with fundraising, strategic planning, campaign leadership development, and management.

Michael is an avid sports fan, a lifelong athlete, and an active member of the local running community through his service on the New York Harriers Board.  He has completed 13 marathons and is currently training for his third Ironman Triathlon. 

John and Michael will join the senior leadership team that reports to Wittenberg.

Jim, formerly Director, Event Development, has been promoted to Vice President, Event Development and Operations.  Jim will oversee the Race Scoring and Production teams, and continue to manage the Event Management, Warehouse, Volunteer, and Medical teams, as well as be a key liaison with City Agencies.  Jim joined NYRR in 2007 and has been instrumental in the growth and development of key events including the ING New York City Marathon, NYC Half, and Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Prior to joining NYRR Jim was with the Philadelphia Eagles for eight years, where he managed all premium services event operations and helped to open Lincoln Financial Field. He still proudly supports Philadelphia sports while working with NYRR in the heart of Manhattan. 

Jim will continue to report to Peter Ciaccia, Executive Vice President, Event Development and Broadcast Production and Technical Director of the ING New York City Marathon.

About NYRR

New York Road Runners was founded in 1958 when a small group of passionate runners vowed to bring running to the people. Over the past 55 years, NYRR has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization. NYRR’s mission is to empower everyone, of all ages and abilities—beginners and competitive athletes, the young and the elderly, adult professionals and underserved schoolchildren—to improve their health and well-being through the power of running and fitness.

NYRR’s races, community events, instruction and training resources, and youth programs give hundreds of thousands of people each year the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to start running and keep running for life. NYRR’s premier event, the famed ING New York City Marathon, attracts the world’s top pro runners and committed amateurs alike while also raising millions of dollars annually for charity and driving economic impact for the City. But NYRR is equally committed to the runners of tomorrow, passionately providing youth fitness programs that educate and inspire more than 150,000 kids in underserved communities in New York City, all 50 states, and around the world.

Headquartered in New York City, NYRR implements a unique nonprofit model that teams contributed and earned income to make all its efforts possible. To learn more, please visit

Categories: Human Interest