NY Road Runners CEO Steps Down Amid Allegations of ‘Racist Work Culture’

- Michael Capiraso, the NYRR president and chief executive officer, will leave the organization as of December 31, after 10 years of service. Photo Credit: YouTube

By Ellen Cans

The CEO of New York Road Runners, the nonprofit which runs the NYC Marathon, is stepping down amid allegations of racism and sexism.  As reported by the NY Post, on Monday, the group announced that Michael Capiraso, the NYRR president and chief executive officer, will leave the organization as of December 31, after 10 years of service.   “Over the past few months, the Board of Directors has heard complaints to the concerns raised and recommendations offered by the community NYRR serves, including its employees and members of the broader running community,” said George Hirsch, chairman of the board of NYRR, in a statement.  “In order to achieve our mission to help and inspire people through running, we will recruit new leadership to the organization,” he said.

Hirsch added, “The entire Board of Directors and I thank Michael Capiraso for his 10 years of contributions and dedication to this organization.”  The allegations began in September, when a coalition of current and former NYRR employees formed a group named Rebuild NYRR.   The group began an online petition calling for Capiraso’s immediate resignation for allegedly fostering a “toxic, discriminatory, and systemically racist work culture at NYRR.”  As of Monday morning, over 1,150 people signed that petition on Change.org.

“For years, we have been experiencing racism, bias, and bullying that goes unchecked. We want to create a healthy, equitable, and safe environment for ourselves and for our community. We have been pushing for fairness and cultural competency for years only to have it fall on deaf ears,” the group wrote on its website.  In September, NYRR’s board of directors sent an email to staff informing them that it had tapped an outside law firm to question employees and look into the organization’s policies and practices, as per Runner’s World Magazine.   A total of roughly 17 current and former employees cited discrimination concerns at NYRR.   The group is pursuing an independent pay equity audit, hoping that corrective action will be taken to “remediate disparities.”

Kerin Hempel, who has long served at NYRR , and has been the group’s vice president of strategy and planning from 2010 to 2014, has been appointed to act as interim CEO until the board finds a permanent replacement.

Capiraso said in a statement, “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the NYRR running community for the past 10 years. I am proud of the growth the organization and I have achieved and the impact we have had, and I wish NYRR continued success.”