“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. (Margaret Mead, author and cultural anthropologist)

That is the RUN Team in a nutshell. A small group of dedicated volunteer changemakers from far-flung places and widespread sectors, brought together by a belief in the power of sport to change lives. Read more about us below.

Got skills to share and interested in joining our RUN volunteer community? Please contact info@run.org.hk.

  • Virginie Goethals, Co-Founder, Managing Director

    I am originally from Belgium, am a lawyer, ultra-runner and the mother of three kids. Together with Brenda, we founded RUN (formerly Free to Run) in October 2015, and have not stopped since. With the support of our fantastic team of volunteers, I manage the sports’ programmes on a day-to-day basis, coordinate emergency support and lead the fundraising. I participate in all the sporting activities, which I enjoy the most. Baking up to 10 cakes a week for our participants is also on my to-do list!

    The best moments at RUN are the smiles and twinkles in the eyes of the refugees when they hit a summit, pass a race finish line or beat their running personal best. When they join us, they only have their dignity left, but I love it when their smiles and cheerfulness show that they have regained hope for the future. Tai Tam reservoir and the Twins are our playground every Tuesday. So many refugees have reached fitness milestones there, therefore it is a very special place for us.

    My grandfather was a refugee from Hungary and was forced to live without status for many years in Belgium, after surviving Russian gulags. He had a very special kindness and strength that I can identify in many of our programme participants, which humbles me to the bone. His way of recovery was spending time outside in nature or swimming. I think he somehow led me to where I am now. When I’m not volunteering with RUN, I try to train a bit for myself in between baking and organising the programme!

  • Brenda Sawyer, Co-Founder, Director and Treasurer

    I arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and my three children and two grandchildren were born and raised in this amazing city. I started, developed and, after 7 years, sold a wine importing business; am a former chair of the Board of Governors of Kellett School and earned an LLB (Hons) in 2005.

    Our family have always been keen hikers and this interest turned into something a little more serious when my husband and I started entering multi day ultra-marathons. This sport has since taken us across some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and was the spark to my original connection with RUN (formerly Free to Run), my friendship with Virginie and my realisation of the significant issues facing refugees around the world.

    I am passionate about RUN and determined to make a difference to the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong.

  • Jodie Chan, Director

    I joined RUN’s Board of Directors in March 2017 and have been an active volunteer since 2015. As a Director, I focus on strategy development, governance and stakeholder engagement. I became involved with RUN when I participated in their first race with the refugees and led efforts to raise RUN’s seed capital. I was moved by the refugees’ determination and friendship on the track and I could see RUN’s immediate and deep impact on rebuilding their lives. I enjoy physical fitness, and am strongly passionate about its positive impact on health and in furthering equality, diversity and human rights for a better community.

    By day, I work at Macquarie Group where I am responsible for developing and implementing regional and country strategies across Asia. I also have prior experience in risk management and law.

  • Anna Herzog, Secretary and Governance and Policy Advisor

    I am originally from Switzerland and have been in Hong Kong since 2013. I support RUN’s Board of Directors in administration and I ensure proper documentation of RUN’s activities. Besides this, I attend as many events as possible to bond with RUN’s participants and build trust. I fell immediately in love with RUN when I first heard about them in the summer of 2017. I entirely believe in the positive effect outdoor activities can have on a person’s well-being, physically and mentally. Every time I meet our participants, I can see a transformation in their faces between before and after our programmes. Besides RUN, I am an avid hiker exploring the remote trails of Hong Kong and I generally do a lot of sports. I also work in the Claims Operations of an international insurance company.

  • Pristine Lampard, Programme Director

    I am an American expat who has been living in Hong Kong since 2014. It was my desire to create a positive impact locally as well as RUN's unique mission and dedicated team which compelled me to join the organisation full time.

    Prior to joining RUN, I was the Chief of Staff for an award winning women's college in East Africa. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, hiking, and exploring Hong Kong with my family.

  • Charlotte Cutler, Track Training Head Coach

    I am from the UK and I coach the Thursday night track sessions. I have been involved with RUN since they started their running programme and helped set up the track training sessions. I love running and love being able to share this passion with the refugee community. They have taught me some valuable lessons about dealing with adversity, whatever shape or form it may take. Volunteering with RUN has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Every week I am left in awe at what the runners have been able to achieve. Over the couple of years that we have trained together, they have surpassed all my expectations. I have raced competitively for a very long time, ever since joining my first track club... 34 years ago and counting. I am most at home racing round the track in Aberdeen. When I’m not running, I am spending time with my children (two boys). By day, I am a strategic consultant, advising clients on market-entry issues in China and the wider-Asia region.

  • Saba Ahmad, Studying and Mentorship Programme Coordinator

    At RUN I focus on finding creative ways for our refugees to study, coordinate mentors, write fundraising proposals for the study programme and manage logistics during hiking sessions. I have been volunteering since January 2016. Originally from Pakistan, I have been a migrant most of my life, so I partly understand what it means to leave life behind. I volunteer because the refugee crisis is one of the largest basic human rights issues we face today. Physical activity is proven to create a positive mental state and I believe sport is a great first step that gives refugees a way to rebuild their stolen lives. The best moments I have had at RUN are a refugee calling me a friend and another saying that studying had given him his confidence back. By day, I am a mother, business owner and Partnerships Director at Li & Fung Foundation. When I’m not volunteering with RUN, I’m trying to improve my running time, write, paint and play board games with my daughter.

  • Anne Bastock Leckie, Education and Hiking Coordinator

    I am from Sydney, Australia. I originally volunteered for RUN as I like hiking anywhere with a view and I think it is positive for mental and physical health. I thought it would be great to share that with people who otherwise wouldn't be able to get out on the trails. However, in the year I have been volunteering, slowly getting to know the refugee women, I have found myself truly inspired by them and that has been an unexpected bonus of being involved. Finishing the Free to Run race with one of the ladies has been one of the best moments, as was watching the enthusiasm as the women learned to swim. It has made me even more grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life and provided a perspective that I otherwise would not have had. RUN is a young charity that is really invested in making the lives of vulnerable refugees living in Hong Kong more bearable. When not volunteering there, I do accounting for some family investment companies and spend time with friends and family, reading, eating, and doing Pilates.

  • Dave Smith, Track Coach

    I was born in Liverpool in the UK and have been in Hong Kong for over 20 years. I assist with the training sessions we hold at the track every Thursday and help the team to enter and compete in local running races. I heard over the grapevine that RUN were looking for help with the track sessions, so contacted Charlotte and Virginie in summer of 2016 and the rest is history. Every Thursday is a great experience, seeing everyone getting out on the track and running. My best memory is the first time our runners won trophies at a race. I used to be a Civil Engineer, but I am now retired. When I am not volunteering with RUN, a great deal of my time is spent organising races for my running club, Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong (AVOHK). I run wherever I can but running and walking on the trails within Hong Kong’s country parks is most enjoyable to me.

  • Jenny Main, Race Co-ordinator

    I am originally from Scotland and am a Director at a Marketing Consultancy. I help out at track training every Thursday and help manage the RUN check point teams for long distance races. I’m also a study mentor and can’t wait for my mentee to start getting certificates for all her hard work.

    I’ve been involved with RUN since the start of the programme. I was really inspired by the 2 Afghan girls who completed the Gobi March under the Free To Run banner and wanted to get involved. Knowing how much exercise can help improve people’s emo-tional and physical well-being, and understanding the vulnerability of Hong Kong’s refugee population, I was keen to help out as much as possible.

    Completing the 30km County of Origin race three times with the RUN team count as some of the best experiences of my life. Seeing the girls battle through the pain and their own doubts to finish this incredibly tough race were some of the most emotional moments I have encountered.

    I have worked with refugees since I was about 14 years old so there’s a large place in my heart for this special group of people. Also having spent some time working in Afri-ca, I have a huge respect for African culture, history and their incredible dancing skills!

  • Kathie Barna Allderige, Childcare Co-ordinator

    I am originally from the U.S. but have lived in Asia for 20 years. I used to be a fund manager focused on emerging markets but have spent the last 13 years using my pro-fessional skills to work with non-profit organisations focused on underserved women and children

    At RUN I play, read, paint and dance with the children of the mothers who are involved in the Tuesday morning training; assist the mothers-to-be and new mothers with doc-tors visits and general care.

    I joined RUN a year ago after watching the daily news and becoming acutely aware that despite their massive numbers, refugees are individual humans - just as I am - doing anything to find safety for themselves and their families, something that I am lucky enough not to have to face. I continue to volunteer with RUN because the RUN community of volunteers and refugees is one of the most genuinely respectful and car-ing communities I have ever encountered.

    My best experiences are walking into RUN every Tuesday morning and being greeted by so many smiles and hugs from women (and their children) for whom I have so much respect.

    I enjoy hiking on Lugard Road on the Peak on a daily basis and the Dragons Back with my family on the weekends. (Where I don't like to hike - the TWINS! and am in awe of the women who do it every Tuesday!) I also enjoy painting, reading and listen-ing to my 13 year-old son sing.

  • Margaret Schroeder, Childcare Coordinator

    I am from the United Kingdom and have lived in Hong Kong for over thirty years. I am retired and previously worked in many roles which included caring for and teaching children. I became involved with RUN through my daughter, who also volunteers. I help with the childcare whilst the mums are taking part in their exercise. It’s very rewarding seeing the children having such fun playing together naturally and in a safe environment. When I am not volunteering, I enjoy keeping fit through Pilates, aqua-aerobics and hiking, socialising with family and friends and traveling with my husband.

  • Theresa Kwong, Education and Hiking Coordinator

    I volunteer with RUN’s hiking, running and mentoring programmes. I was born in Korea, grew up in America and have lived in Hong Kong for over 25 years. When I became aware of RUN a little over a year ago, I thought it was a great programme that enables individuals and helps them rebuild their lives in a supportive community. Training and competing in the Country of Origin trail race together was a memorable experience. In my spare time, one of my favourite places to run/hike is the Hong Kong trails starting from Hatton Road.