“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 changemakers from far-flung places and widespread sectors, brought together by a belief in the power of sport to change lives.

Got skills to share and interested in joining our RUN volunteer community? Find out more.

  • 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.

  • Paul Brough, Director

    I am from the North of England but have been in Hong Kong since 1983, where my wife and I have raised three sons and recently been blessed with two grandchildren. We have three generations of the family in Hong Kong and have firm roots here. I am a professional accountant, but for the last few years have worked on restructuring a number of distressed companies in Asia.

    While I still have a full-time career, I am at a stage where I’d like to put more back into the community, and preferably at a grass-roots level too, working directly with the participants. I have visited a number of charitable organisations over the past few years and I thought that RUN was doing much-needed work in one of the neglected corners of our society. RUN is where I thought I could make a difference, working with some very dedicated people and using some of what I’ve learned from my career and life to help others.

  • 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.

  • David Jacquier, Director

    I'm originally from Australia but have spent most of the past 20 years living and working in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Although my work in banking and finance brought me to Asia, my transition 6 years ago into health and fitness with partnership in Joint Dynamics has certainly educated me, my wife and my 3 kids, in the benefits that physical and emotional support can provide.

    I'm fortunate enough to see the incredible positive effects that better health education and fitness has had within the refugee community. As I'm no 'elite athlete', I feel confident that I share the training challenge the refugees encounter, which hopefully equips them with the mental strength to take on the other less physical challenges they face.

    After spending 4 years in support of RUN through fundraising and training support I'm excited and feel very privileged to join the board.

  • Cindy Leung, Programme Manager

    Since graduating with a degree in social work from China, I've spent several years exploring the charity and humanitarian space before joining RUN in 2019. Previously, I interned with UNHCR which gave me knowledge on refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong and also introduced me to RUN's work and the skills of its participants.

    I was motivated to continue working for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers because of all the positive effects RUN has on its participants and the opportunity to help give refugees and asylum seekers a better future.

  • Erin Brown, Sports Programmes Coordinator

    I am a recent graduate of Durham University in the UK where I got my degree in International Relations and Politics, but I grew up here in Hong Kong. I previously represented the Hong Kong national team in Athletics and Cross Country, where I was lucky enough to travel and race against runners from around the world. I have always loved the way that running and competition can bring people together, regardless of culture, background, and language barriers.

    As the Sports Programmes Coordinator, I manage all of our hiking, running, and kids sports programmes. I have been involved in charity work for much of my life and I am incredibly excited to work with refugees and asylum seekers here in Hong Kong. I hope that I can share my passion for sports with the athletes here at RUN to help them to achieve their goals and rebuild, unite and nurture each other and themselves.

  • Jayne Schrantz, Education Operations Manager

    Originally from the United States, I have called Hong Kong home since January 2000. I come to RUN with a background in academia, community service, and service education.

    Since 2018, I have been running with the weekly mixed gender track sessions on Thursday nights. The spirit and resilience of the athletes has always been incredibly inspiring and motivating for me. As the Education Operations Manager, I now have the privilege of helping our athletes prepare for the future by developing learning and professional development opportunities.

  • Nida Sophasarun, Education Operations Assistant

    Originally from America, I’ve worked over the last two decades as a freelance writer, teacher, and IT tech in Asia and Europe. It was the rewarding volunteer and philanthropy experiences in Myanmar and Bulgaria that led me to seek out similar work in Hong Kong. At RUN I teach computer literacy classes and assist in the administration of its educational programs. I feel lucky to be supporting participants as they find their educational paths and learn to utilise computer skills in building towards their individual goals.

  • Ca Robertson, English Teacher

    I am an English teacher from Scotland. For the last ten years I have taught English and Spanish in various countries in Asia and South America before coming to settle in Hong Kong. I love language learning for its ability to open the mind to new perspectives, to communicate across cultures and to offer a new world of opportunities.

    In my hometown of Glasgow I was a member of an NGO which worked to provide material and pastoral support to asylum seekers and refugees. I worked at a night shelter which offered dinner and emergency refuge to members of the refugee community who had nowhere to sleep during winter. I am delighted to be part of RUN and combine my love of language sharing with my passion for supporting the refugee and asylum seeker community in Hong Kong.

  • Charlotte Beckett, Health Advisor & Coordinator

    I am originally from the UK and qualified as a doctor in 1997, becoming a GP and working in inner city London. In 2012 my husband and 3 young children moved to Beijing and then in 2019 we arrived in Hong Kong.

    I feel very lucky that I was introduced to RUN in the first few weeks of living in this fabulous city. To be given an opportunity to help and advise the participants on all health matters is a privilege. It is such a great organisation to volunteer for. The dynamic and caring ethos makes a true difference to the lives of these vulnerable individuals who arrive in Hong Kong with very little.

  • Michelle Sampson, Nurse

    I am a New Zealander who has been living in Hong Kong for over 20 years. As a registered nurse I worked in Auckland, London and Hong Kong. I also have a degree in History of Art. I am a mother of two grown children.

    It’s a privilege to be part of the RUN team. I am pleased to assist the refugees with health care issues, in particular supporting them with the challenges they face from language and status.

  • Dr. Ken Fung, Clinical Psychologist

    Dr Fung is a clinical psychologist committed to helping individuals/couples/parents/families with different relational and emotional issues using Gottman Method, Psychodynamic, CBT and Systemic approaches.

    Ken attained his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, his Master of Social Sciences degree in Criminology from the University of Hong Kong and his Doctor of Psychology degree in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.

  • Dani Cassidy, Fundraising & Development Manager

    Originally from Canada, I have lived in Hong Kong for over two years, after spending the previous seven years in South Korea, England and Australia. I have a Master of Arts in Human Rights and Genocide studies and have worked for organisations supporting people seeking asylum in London and Sydney.

    I am passionate about advocating for refugees and people seeking asylum and the best part of my job is when I see a new found independence and confidence in our participants. I believe every human has the right to feel safe and live in a place where they can thrive, free from persecution, and I believe people seeking asylum are a beneficial asset to any community as they are hard-working, bring a diversity of strengths and experiences, and often have the ability to spread great joy. In my role as the Fundraising and Development Manager, I am committed to connecting with like-minded partners in the community and helping RUN identify the resources it needs to continue to serve vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, running, traveling and enjoying the vibrancy of Hong Kong with my husband.

  • Serrie Fung, Communications Consultant

    I was born in Canada and have lived in Hong Kong almost my entire life. As a brand and communications consultant, I'm passionate about helping nonprofit organisations tell their story, reach the right audiences, and further their mission using smart communications, and I'm proud to be able to help RUN do just that. I believe the refugees bring so much to our community, whether it's their skills, perspectives, or culture, and I'm happy to play a small part in helping to change the narrative around refugees in Hong Kong.

  • Joice Sam, Bookkeeper

    Born in Indonesia, my family migrated to Australia when I was young. Growing up in Sydney, I graduated from Macquarie University with a Commerce degree and completed my CPA qualification. I have worked in the financial services industry for over ten years. Moving into the not-for-profit sector, I am constantly amazed at the positive impact NGOs have in the community.

    Following our move to Hong Kong, I am fortunate to be able to use my accounting background to work with local not-for-profits like RUN Hong Kong where I hope I can play a small part in supporting their vital work with refugees and asylum seekers.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Theresa Kwong, Education Coordinator

    I volunteer with RUN’s PATHS for the Future education programme. In my role, I mentor RUN's caregiver students and graduates, supporting them through their caregiving studies and beyond. I also help to identify opportunities for our caregivers to practice their new skills through volunteer activities in the community. 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.

  • See Fawn Lau, Childcare Coordinator

    I was born in the UK, but have spent half my life in Hong Kong. I previously worked in the battery industry as a senior chemist and technical manager for 20 years, but what I do at RUN is completely different! I've always liked kids and I've always wanted to do some volunteering, so I started helping out with RUN's childcare programme in 2018. This programme is so important because it means the mothers can have some free time to do their own activities, and their kids can get out of the cramped spaces that they live in and interact with other kids in similar circumstances.

    As the Childcare Coordinator, I take care of and arrange activities for the kids while the mums go out to do their activities. I love it when the kids remember me, even when I haven't seen them for a while, but my favourite part is seeing the mums come back from their activities - they are so happy to see their kids and their kids are equally excited to see them.