New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organization that plans and executes the New York City Marathon, has named Rob Simmelkjaer as its next CEO. He will take over the role from Kerin Hempel, who accepted the position on a temporary basis in November 2020.
“I am thrilled and humbled to join NYRR at such a pivotal time,” Simmelkjaer said in a press release. “Running has the unique ability to improve our physical and mental health, bring us closer together, and inspire positive community change. I look forward to working closely with NYRR’s talented staff, passionate volunteers, diverse communities, and its many partners and stakeholders.”
Before coming to NYRR, Simmelkjaer spent time at ESPN and NBC Sports Ventures in various leadership and executive positions. He also worked as an on-air contributor for ABC News, ESPN, NBC Sports and the Tennis Channel, among other outlets, and he anchored MSNBC’s coverage of the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. Most recently, Simmelkjaer founded Persona Media Inc., a digital and social media platform, and served in a volunteer role as chairman of the board of directors for the Connecticut Lottery.
Simmelkjaer will assume the role on Nov. 15, a week after the 2022 running of the NYC Marathon on Nov. 6. This year, the marathon returns to full capacity of 50,000 runners after it was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic and restricted to a reduced field size in 2021.
In 2020, NYRR experienced turmoil as an organization. First, it announced that it was laying off 11% of its staff and furloughing another 28% amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Later that year, then-CEO Michael Capiraso was accused of racism and sexism within the workplace, per reporting from Runner’s World. These allegations led to Capiraso stepping down from his role.
Among other executive changes, Nnenna Lynch has been nominated to serve as the next chair of NYRR; George Hirsch, the current chair, will become chairman emeritus on June 30, 2023.