Meet Our Team
Cliff Sperber – Executive Director, Youth and Community Services
Cliff Sperber is the Executive Director of NYRR Youth and Community Services division and the leader behind the quest to make running a part of every child’s school day.
Cliff has served as the Executive Director since 2001, developing and executing all services and operations, building relationships with partners, supporters, and constituents, and growing the division's capacity such that the number of children NYRR serves weekly has increased from 100 in New York City when he began, to more than 100,000 throughout the United States and Africa currently. In 2010, he was honored as a Hero of Running by Runner's World for his dedication to youth fitness.
Cliff previously worked with Pathways for Youth, a community-based organization in the Bronx, for over 30 years. He held virtually every administrative and programmatic position at Pathways, including the dual roles of Assistant Executive Director and Director of Development throughout the 1990s, when his development efforts increased the size of Pathways’ budget and client population tenfold.
Cliff believes that the sport of running has a highly beneficial impact on children’s physical health and emotional well-being and serves as a vital change agent for personal development and societal betterment.
Cliff holds a BA in Education from Queens College.
Chrissy Odalen – Director, Program and Administration
Chrissy is the senior staff member in the Youth and Community Services division of New York Road Runners, where she began her tenure in 1999. As Program and Administration Director, Chrissy manages all programs, special projects and events, and administers the implementation of all NYRR Youth and Community Services initiatives. Her leadership and organizational expertise have been instrumental in the expansive growth of the service population and the development of the comprehensive program resources NYRR provides free to schools and community centers.
Prior to working at NYRR, Chrissy was captain of both her high school and Division III collegiate cross country teams. She holds a MS in Physical Education-Sports Management from Brooklyn College and a BS in Clinical Science from Ithaca College, and she is a member of the National Council of Youth Sports.
German Martinez – Manager, Youth Events and Training
German has shared his extensive experience training teachers, coaches, and kids in running and fitness with NYRR since 2002, having created and led trainings for the NYC Department of Education, C.H.A.M.P.S., Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF), NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, The After School Corporation (TASC), Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Morningside Alliance, among others.
German has played a prominent role developing the special events that motivate and inspire our program participants, including the Youth Jamborees, Young Runners Championships, Cross Country Invitational, Mighty Milers Fun Runs, Run with Champions, and the DOE Developmental Track & Field Series; events which highlight the phenomenal positive impact that running has on students of all ages.
German is certified as a USA Track & Field Official, Level 1 Instructor, and Level 2 Coach (Sprints, Hurdles, and Throws). He also formerly played professional soccer in Colombia. German holds a BS in Movement Science from York College.
Paola Baptiste – Manager, Young Runners
Paola has worked with NYRR since 2006, overseeing the daily operations of Young Runners, an after-school running program in 70 schools and community centers in New York City. She is also responsible for the supervision of field coordinators at the participating sites and the coordination of student and coach participation in all Young Runners events.
An accomplished NCAA athlete, Paola played collegiate basketball at St. Francis College where she also served as the graduate assistant for Sports Information and the Interim Director of Game Operations. She holds an MS in Physical Education-Sports Management from Brooklyn College and a BS in International Business Management from St. Francis College.
Sue Morris – Senior Manager, Mighty Milers
Sue has been sharing her extensive experience in social work, program management, and field work with NYRR since 2007. As Senior Manager, Sue is responsible for managing the Mighty Milers program in the U.S.—where field and office staff support as many as 75,000 children each week in more than 350 Mighty Milers sites nationwide.
At the University of Oregon, Sue was a member of PAC-10 Championship 4x100-meter relay team, as well as two 4x800-meter relay championship teams at the Drake Relays.
Sue holds a MSW in Social Work Program Management from Portland State University and BS in Education (Family and Community Services) and Spanish from the University of Oregon.
Zakia Feracho – Senior Manager, Community Services
Since joining NYRR in 2006, Zakia Feracho has served in multiple capacities with Team for Kids, including Senior Manager. She is the first Senior Manager of Community Services. She will help providers of health-related initiatives in underserved NYC communities deliver meaningful fitness/wellness programs for seniors and adults by leveraging NYRR resources.
Zakia has been a certified sporting official with New York State and USA Track & Field for over a decade, as well as a certified USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach with specializations in track and field and endurance running.