REBUILD New York Road Runner
Current & Former Employees Appeal For Change.
We’ve been following this story for a few weeks now on first on Instagram and then on Facebook, within several running groups. I wanted to hear directly from the REBUILD New York Road Runner, so I reached out to them for an interview, I’ve also reached out to the New York Road Runner, as of the writing of this post they have not responded.
Initially, I was hoping to have an actual conversation with a representative from REBUILD New York Road Runner, but they were concerned about retaliation. I even suggested altering their voice as an option, we finally agreed to responding to a few questions.
Below is an email that I sent to a secure email server, I feel like a 007 agent or a CIA operative. I certainly respect the extreme measures they established to protect their identities; we’ve seen what happens to people when they speak out against injustices-the victim gets treated like the perpetrator.
Good Morning Kathrine,
I don’t know if that’s your name or not and it doesn’t matter, but for the purpose of this interview that’s how I’ll be referring to you. I want to feel as though I’m talking with a real person, instead of a random stranger. I chose Kathrine as a nod to Kathrine Switzer.
I’m accustomed to being able to talk with guest for my show. Behind The Wheel Podcast, a show dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of ordinary people, who are doing EXTRAordinary things within their communities.
When I heard of the horrific allegations being shared by our next guest, I immediately wanted to have them on the show to share their stories. However, the issue of anonymity was raised, which I can certainly understand. I offered to alter the voices of the guest-but we ended up settling on me writing out a few questions for Kathrine and her team to answer. It should be noted, Kathrine is not her real name and I have never met any of the members of Rebuild New York Road Runner, nor do I have any affiliation with either organizations New York Road Runner or Rebuild New York Road Runner.
I have reached out to New York Road Runner for comment on the story and the claims and concerns raised by Rebuild New York Road Runner, as of September 17, 2020 I have not received a response from New York Road Runner. Prior to The DailyMail.com piece, I was interested in hearing directly from Rebuild New York Road Runner.
BTW Podcast: Thank you for agreeing to share your story with us, we certainly do appreciate it. Let’s start with what were the events that led to the organization of the petition?
Kathrine: Employees have been raising concerns and have been filing complaints with HR regarding issues such as discrimination, micro-aggressions, harassment, etc. for years. Employees have brought these issues to HR, their managers, senior leaders and even Micheal Capiraso, CEO and President of New York Road Runner, only to have them disregarded, not addressed and / or buried. Rebuild is not a warning or an out of the blue accusation of New York Road Runner leadership, it’s a last resort and appeal. The breaking point for a lot of people was in late May when New York Road Runner posted about the killing of George Floyd and used the hashtag “justice for all”, a close nod to “all lives matter”.
BTW Podcast: Why did it take so long for people to come forward, have members of Rebuild New York Road Runner received threats of violence?
Kathrine: As of today no one has come forward publicly. We are aware of a number of individuals who have egregious stories to share but are still afraid. Also, no one wants to be the first one. But it really does just take one and hopefully the rest will follow. Many of us still work at New York Road Runner and we are concerned about losing our jobs in the middle of a global pandemic. We all are also acutely aware of the power or Michael Capiraso and the leadership team. We have heard rumors that they would like to press charges against us and having worked with them the last few years we know they are capable of doing so. Leadership at New York Road Runner is capable of retaliation, many of us have seen what they do to staff who speak up, the culture is very retaliatory.
BTW Podcast: Why not just leave and look for employment elsewhere?
Kathrine: Again, a lot of reasons. Personally, I feel I have invested so much into this company at this point that I would like to see the change. Other group members have different reasons. I am also starting to see things that happened to me when I was a young employee now happening to junior staff and it breaks my heart. We want to be the ones who can say we did everything we could do to help. It’s all about making decisions you can live with.
It is also difficult to leave when your options are limited because you have been criminally underpaid for years and you don’t have a lot of savings so you are nervous to leave in the midst of a global pandemic and economic downturn.
BTW Podcast: What do you say to your critics, who call your claims baseless?
Kathrine: To be honest we have gotten so much positive feedback and so many encouraging messages we try not to dwell on people who are diminishing our efforts. I will say that the people who feel Rebuild is baseless should examine what they are doing to make sure people who we work with feel safe, free and valued. It occurs to me that the people who are against Rebuild have some amount of privilege, they might stand to lose that privilege if things change so it makes sense they would be upset by this. I think people are hung up on anonymity, and to that I say, I would worry about what we are saying instead of who we are.
BTW Podcast: What would you say to those in the public who may cast Rebuild New York Road Runner as disgruntled ex/current employees?
Kathrine: I think this is funny, we are disgruntled current and former employees! We are disgruntled because we have spent years enduring discrimination, racism, harassment all while pleading for things to change only to be gaslit for YEARS. So yeah, we are disgruntled.
On a serious note, we have gotten submissions and messages from a huge amount of current and former staff and even runners and members. We are not the angry vocal minority, we are a part of the angry, silent majority.
BTW Podcast: Does the New York Road Runner have a system in place to deal with the many claims detailed in the petition and on your Instagram Page?
Kathrine: Internally New York Road Runner has created a task force to address Rebuild made up of some of the very people accused of the horrific stories on Rebuild.
The board of directors has also formed a task force and hired legal representation to “investigate the allegations”. We have deep concerns about how the board is handling this investigation. Leadership is still in place and it is business as usual at New York Road Runner .
BTW Podcast: Has anyone from New York Road Runner reached out to you, to try and address the claims raised within the petition?
Kathrine: As of today, no. The board never responded directly to us, no direct communication has been attempted by New York Road Runner senior leaders, and Rebuild is not named in internal communications.
BTW Podcast: Has Rebuild New York Road Runner gone to the press?
Kathrine: We’ve made no attempt to contact any press. Press reached out to us and we obliged. There are new things in the works that will be out soon.
BTW Podcast: What do you say to your critics who are calling the petition a baseless smear campaign that reeks of just piling on the #BLM and #Metoo movements without a stitch of supporting evidence?
Kathrine: Again, I ask them to examine what they are protecting and why. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where people think anyone would willingly want to spend their time doing this if it were not an emergency and completely valid. I think saying “pile on to BLM and #metoo’’ diminishes both of those movements and everything we are trying to do with Rebuild. When we say Rebuild we mean it. We don’t aim to destroy New York Road Runner , we just want to eradicate the toxicity and make it a place where people, women and Black Indigenous People Of Color are valued, empowered to grow personally and professionally, and feel safe working.
BTW Podcast: I can’t imagine what rape victims must endure after a brutal attract and then be confronted with the public scrutiny and we place the victim on trial. We’ve gotta do a better job of making it safe for people to speak out against injustice and inequality. What can we do to help provide a safe place for victims to speak out without fear of retribution afterwards?
Kathrine: When a victim says they have been hurt or wronged, believe them! Period. There is a misconception that victims have so much to gain from throwing allegations around when in reality it is an extremely painful and terrifying experience to come forward. You risk a lot by doing so, even anonymously and no one would want to immerse themselves in all this unless they had to.
BTW Podcast: What is the ultimate goal of Rebuild New York Road Runner and are you hopeful in reaching your objectives?
Kathrine: Our goal is for Micheal Capiraso to step down as CEO and board member of New York Road Runner. Michael has fostered a toxic environment at New York Road Runner for years, one that has encouraged other leaders to abuse their power and go unchecked. We believe that Michael is the root of the issue and would like to see him replaced with a leader who is rooted in DEI and community service. New York Road Runner needs to put community service first and profits second.
BTW Podcast: Whelp that’s all I have for now, if there’s anything further you’d like to add please feel free to include it in your response.
Kathrine: One more thing we would like to say: We would like to state again, that we are not attempting to destroy New York Road Runner, we are simply trying to eradicate the deep seeded issues of inequality and discrimination that run rampant within the organization. We truly want to see New York Road Runner be the incredible resource and leader it can be for this community.
The issues we list are not new, Rebuild New York Road Runner comes after YEARS of employees doing everything they can to inform leadership and address the issues we all know exist internally. Rebuild is our final attempt to create change after years of having these issues buried and not addressed internally.
There are many experiences and stories that have not come to light yet. We would like to see these all be heard and addressed. We are hopeful for change and optimistic that this type of toxicity will no longer have a place at our place of work, in our community and in our world.
Thank you to everyone who has sent us support, stories and thank you BTW for this platform.