Richard Traum, Ph.D.
President and Founder

Dick, an above the knee amputee began running in the mid-seventies. A business entrepreneur, with a successful computer applications company, Dick realized that he needed to do something about his sedentary lifestyle. He joined the West Side YMCA and found his passion. From a mile, he progressed to a five-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.
212-354-0300 ext 301


Mary Bryant
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 ten-time marathoner herself.

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 is also a consultant to America’s Athletes with Disabilities, and has worked with WE Media for the Paralympics in Sydney, Australia.
212-354-0300 ext 302


Toby Tanser
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 5-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.

Eleanor Cox
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 as a volunteer guide and was so inspired by the determination of Achilles athletes, she ran the NYC Marathon in 2000. 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, 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, New York which she created in 2008. She takes great pride and pleasure in working with Achilles athletes, volunteers and chapter heads to further Achilles programs.
212-354-0300 ext 311

Russell Koplin
Director of Volunteers

Russell Koplin is a native New Yorker who has been involved with Achilles since her childhood where she began as a volunteer. She studied theater at Northwestern University where she earned a B.S. degree in Communications.

When she is not working on her acting career (Broadway/off-Broadway Theater, TV, and voice-overs for television and radio commercials), Russell helps with volunteer opportunities, guide matching for the NYC Marathon, website development, and an assortment of other responsibilities.
212-354-0300 ext 306

Janet Patton
Director, Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans and The 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.
212-354-0300 ext 308

Sarah Phillips
Director of Development

Sarah Phillips is a 25-year veteran Guide for Achilles. She writes “I love helping people who strive every day to overcome their disabilities”. Sarah devotes her work at Achilles to marketing and development as well as program management.

After graduating from Brown University, Sarah started a marketing consulting firm, and within three years, won the GTE ‘Agency of the Year’ Award from the Consumer Marketing Division. Most recently, Sarah was the Executive Director and Board President for Aspen United Soccer Club, and worked hard to double the club’s revenues through program initiatives. In Sarah’s spare time, she loves to exercise, and is a mother with three children.


Gerle Shagdar
Financial Officer
Director of 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 ten new Achilles International Chapters started with positive impacts in their communities. In her free time, Gerle loves to go running.
212-354-0300 ext 309

Joe Traum
Director of 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. It includes purchasing and maintenance of handcycles for all Achilles divisions. He also runs the Achilles Kayak program.
212-354-0300 ext 300