Richard Traum, Ph.D.
President and Founder
Dick, an above the knee amputee began running in the mid-1970s. A business entrepreneur, with a successful computer applications company, Dick realized he needed to do something about his sedentary lifestyle. He joined the West Side YMCA and found his passion in running. From a mile, he progressed to a 5-mile race in Central Park.
Buoyed by his success, five months later, he ran his first marathon, and became the first amputee to run 26.2 miles. There was no looking back. In 1983, he founded the Achilles Track Club, currently known as Achilles International.
Dick has a BS, MBA, and Ph. D. from New York University and lives in Manhattan. He’s been married for 40+ years and has a married son and a granddaughter.
Vice-President and Founder of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans
Mary Bryant joined Achilles in 1997 when her oldest brother, paralyzed from the neck down, became the first man to complete the NYC Marathon without the use of arms or legs. She is a 10-time marathoner.
Besides her work with the Freedom Team, she is responsible for the growth and development of Achilles, including finding sponsors. Mary co-authored Success is a Team Effort and Go Achilles!. She is also an inspirational speaker, having been featured on several television programs including NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News Tonight.
She was the 2009 kick-off speaker of the White House’s Wellness Seminars; she served as president of the New York Tri-State Chapter of the National Speakers Association, and she is on the Advisory Board of Evelyn Lauder’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Just One Break. She was consultant to America’s Athletes with Disabilities, and worked with WE Media for the Paralympics in Sydney, Australia.
Vice President and Race Director
Toby joined Achilles in 2001. He has served as guide, volunteer, and from 2005-2011 served as a board member. Toby also serves as race director for Achilles Hope & Possibility 4-Mile Race held each year in Central Park since 2002.
The founder and CEO of Shoe4Africa, Toby is a board member of New York Road Runners and sits on the advisory board for both the Armed Forces Foundation and Runner's World coaches board. An ambassador to Subway's Commit to Fit program, Toby founded the Kids Against Obesity fun run. Toby is head coach at NYC's largest club, the New York Flyers; Fashion Institute of Technology, and TeamLifeline charity. He has authored four books and, for many years, worked as a writer in the athletics media.
Director, New York Chapter
Michael Anderson joined Achilles as the Director of the NYC Chapter in May of 2017. As a competitive runner, Michael has competed in over 350 races in the U.S. and around the globe. He has completed nine consecutive Boston Marathons and has run over 25 marathons including five World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and NYC). After running his first NYRR race in 2000, Michael was moved by the power of Achilles and has been an admirer even since. He credits the accomplishments of Achilles athletes as a factor in pushing himself on race day and for toughing it out in the grueling final miles of each marathon he has run. Prior to joining Achilles he spent several years as an event manager and freelance writer.
Director, U.S. Chapter Development
After 10 years as Web site manager for a major New York book publisher, Ellie began building, maintaining, and marketing Web sites for not-for-profit organizations such as the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society as well as other business entities. She joined Achilles in 1996 and ran the 2000 NYC Marathon. Ellie directed Achilles NYC from Sept. 2009 through 2010 and assumed responsibility for U.S. chapter development in 2011. She coordinates all aspects of the AWD Family Reunion area post-NYC Marathon. With a BS in Media and Culture from SUNY/Empire State College and a Project Management Certificate from Baruch College, Ellie is also certified by the American Sailing Association in basic sailing, cruising and navigation and coaches whenever possible. When not tending to Achilles activities, she narrates the Great Gatsby Boat Tour in Port Washington, NY which she created in 2008. She takes great pleasure in working with Achilles sponsors, athletes, volunteers and chapter leaders to further Achilles programs.
Director, Special Projects
During her time as a performer in the USO Genna Griffith discovered the Achilles Freedom Team and her enthusiasm for its mission led to a full time position with Achilles in 2005. She was named Director of the Achilles Freedom Team in 2007 and conceived of and implemented what has become known as the Marathon Tour until 2013 when she took time to have a family.
Genna is a graduate of American University in Washington DC with a BA in Musical Theater. She is the recipient of the American University Alumni Recognition Award. She lives in NYC with her husband, a Retired Army Captain, who was wounded while serving in Iraq, and their daughter.
Director, Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans and Marathon Tour
Janet Patton joined the Achilles International team as a part-time staff member in August 2007, and after falling in love with the mission and the work, became a full-time employee in January 2010. She graduated from American University in Washington DC, with degrees in Public Communications and Music Theatre. Janet is the proud sister of a U.S. Navy veteran. She is thrilled to be a part of the Achilles family and is inspired daily by the strength of the Achilles athletes and their courageous families. If you are a veteran and want to participate with the Freedom Team, contact Janet.
Director, International Chapters
Gerle Shagdar worked in a fast-moving environment in Mongolia with the Soros Foundation on drafting and implementing new Economic Laws for the country's open market such as Stock Exchange Law, Company Law and Privatization Laws. She moved to the US in 2000 worked as a Financial Officer in the Construction company. Passionate about helping people to improve the quality of their lives, she started volunteering for Achilles International in 2001 and is now the Director of International Chapters. Under her leadership, more than 10 new Achilles International Chapters started with positive impacts in their communities. In her free time, Gerle loves to go running.
Director, Office Operations and Wheelchair Logistics
Joe has been working at Achilles International since 2000. Joe is the Director of Office Operations and the Achilles Handcycle Program. His responsibilities include purchasing and maintenance of handcycles for all Achilles divisions. He also runs the Achilles Kayak program.