CARA Ambassadors

Meet the 2020 CARA Ambassador Team!

Allie Kinzler 


Allie grew up in Glen Ellyn, IL where she ran cross-country and track but didn't truly fall in love with running until April 2017 when she ran her first Half-Marathon in Phoenix, AZ. What she thought was her first and last long-distance race turned into a passionate lifestyle and only the start of her amazing running journey. After moving back to Chicago in September 2017, she became more involved in the running community and races in the Chicagoland area. After hitting her sub-2-hour Half-Marathon goal in March 2019, she wanted to take her running career to the next level and signed up for the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She never thought she could run a full marathon, but coming across the CARA Summer Marathon Training program changed her mindset completely! CARA made her feel at ease and that she was capable of reaching such big running goals. She met some amazing new running buddies through the program that helped her reached the start line feeling ready and confident. Allie is so excited to help spread the "Power of the Group" mindset with CARA across the Chicago running community this year and help build supportive groups to help everyone reach their running goals. 


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Angel Arflack


Hi, I am Angel Arflack.  I have been a CARA member since 1993 when I graduated college.  I ran my first marathon in 1994 and have completed over 35 marathons since, including Boston for the 99th and 100th anniversary. I have also completed 3 Ironmans, and numerous 70.3 and Olympic distance triathlons. I was a steady competitor in the CARA racing circuit for close to 10 years, then I had my 3 children and briefly changed my focus to triathlons rather than road races. I am currently a Personal Trainer at Lifetime Fitness in Burr Ridge and a USAT coach. I just recently joined the CARA marathon training group last summer and it reignited my love for all things running, especially the community. I became an ambassador to share that love. 

Beth Sherwood

26.2 x 4. 70.3 x 2. Runner. Triathlete. Dog mom. I love the running community and family I’ve met through CARA--I look to continue to build this throughout the year. I am still building out my running racing calendar for the year and am looking to embark on some new races for the year. I will be racing in two half Ironmans this year--both Ironman 70.3 Des Moines and Memphis this year!  Can't wait to run into fellow ambassadors and members on the path and throughout the city.



Bill Pierce

Bill was the Site Coordinator for CARA’s Marathon Training Program in the northern suburbs for many years. In 2000, he co-founded a local running club focused on marathon training and served as its president for 18 years. As an RRCA certified coach, he’s trained hundreds of runners who have successfully completed thousands of marathons. As of this writing, Bill has completed 48 marathons and has run at least one marathon a year for 27 consecutive years.


Brandy Freeland Kuhl


Brandy ran her first race in 2007, but didn't discover the true love of running until 2011 when she started running with CARA and discover the amazing running community in Chicago!  Now, after 9 years of Group Leading and over 125 races later she is working on Marathons #9 and 10 this Spring and aiming for a BQ!  Since 2017 she has been able to incorporate her love for running into her career and is the Marathon Charity Manager for the Chicago Parks Foundation.

Facebook | Instagram

Dana Dell


Hello! My name is Dana and I have been a member of CARA since 2016 when I signed up for the summer marathon training program for my first ever marathon, Chicago! Since then I've run Chicago 2017 & Marine Corps 2019 and trained with CARA both times. I lived in the city for 7 years and trained at Montrose Beach and just moved to the suburbs last spring and trained at Wheaton. When I'm not running I enjoy reading, watching movies & shows with my husband, drinking red wine & coffee, and planning - I'm a Project Manager during the weekdays and I'm frequently making plans with friends or family when I'm not working or running. My go-to long run night before meal is basic pasta with garlic bread and my new thing lately has been to listen to podcasts instead of music on long runs. In 2020 I'm signed up to run the Shamrock Shuffle and Grandma's Marathon in June where my goal is to finally PR. I plan to run or volunteer at various CARA events so please say hi! I'm so excited to be a first time ambassador and continue sharing my love for running & CARA. 



Jeanette Pesamoska


I grew up in Michigan where I ran track and cross-country in high school, but didn't truly fall in love with running until moving to Chicago after law school in 2012.  I joined CARA to train for my first marathon (Portland) and found an amazing sense of community and so many great friends. In addition to running the Portland Marathon, I have also run the Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, and finished my first IronMan 70.3. Currently I am training for the full Ironman in Madison. I love being a group leader for the 10:00s and hope to do so again this summer at Montrose! 


Jenna Kate Monisoff


Jenna Kate Monisoff is so excited to join the CARA Ambassador team for a second year! A runner since the summer of 2015, she joined CARA in early 2018 to train for her second marathon (Flying Pig in Cincinnati) with the 10:30 Awesomes pace group. Jenna Kate is excited to continue training with CARA this spring for the Vermont City Marathon in May and for the Chicago Marathon this fall. Jenna Kate lives in Edgewater with her husband and their little dog Rosie, and you can always catch her starting runs at the tippy top of the Lakeshore Trail.

Jim Cassioppi


Jim started running over 40 years ago: racing the bus home from school, completing his paper route as fast as possible on foot, and running a 20-mile walkathon for charity. Jim went on to run varsity cross country and track in high school and moved to Chicago in 1987 after graduating college. He ran his first marathon (Old Style Chicago) in 1988, his first Boston in 1990, and moved to the western suburbs and joined the Oak Park Runners Club (OPRC) the same year. Jim has served many roles in the OPRC, including a member of the race committee, and has been elected for several club service and participation awards, as well as an inductee of the OPRC Hall of Fame. He has also been a member of Life Time Fitness since 1999 and has served for the past few years as Volunteer Captain Team member. Jim has run 59 marathons, 25 of which being in Chicago, and 7 in Boston. The 1997 Chicago Marathon stands out specifically - he ran his marathon PR of 2:45:01, and was introduced to Lisa Schmidecamp, who he married in 1999. Lisa and Jim have raised an active family:  Ben participates in high school and travel soccer, and Anna is in competitive gymnastics. Jim is humbled to be part of an elite community of runners whose dedication goes beyond the sport of competition. Their inspiration is what drives him and continues to encourage him every day to run his best, be a better person, and enjoy every run.

Jun Zheng 


Jun started running in 2015, with a goal to shed off some pounds gained in college. Since then, she has caught the running bug and has run multiple races; starting with 5ks and half marathons, and with the support of runners at CARA, eventually finishing her first marathon last Fall in Chicago. While traveling internationally, she loves joining local races and meeting people from different backgrounds who were all united with a common passion for running. Jun is a project engineer at an environmental service company, and you can also find her working on her MBA part time at Kellogg. 


Instagram | Strava


Kathie Chong

Kathie started taking running more seriously in 2017 when she trained for her first half marathon. Six half marathons and four full marathons later, she is ecstatic to be an ambassador for CARA and to help others see the benefits of running and the power of the group. Kathie will be running the Chicago Marathon in 2020 and wants to focus on getting stronger and faster. Outside of running, Kathie is a huge Indiana Hoosier fan and co-hosts a podcast focusing on Indiana football, “Hoo Hoo Hail.”

Instagram | Strava

Ken Gasper

My running started in August of 2001 with a bet at Pequods to run Chicago Marathon that year. I got hooked and 20 years later, I've done 38 marathons. I've been with CARA since 2006, where I started on Sunday training and Coach Leach's Peak performance. The last few years, I have been running with the CARA Perfect 10's. In March 2020, I will get my 6 star medal at the Tokyo marathon (which will be used to decorate my Christmas tree along with my other running medals). I've run for animal rescues all over the world, including Team One Tail and Team Paws in Chicago.

Kim Klocek


Kim—who was a dancer in high school and college—signed up for her first half marathon in 2011 with no running experience. After crossing that first finish line, she immediately embraced her newfound love for long distance running. 


For Kim, running is not only a great form of exercise, but also a form of therapy. She joined CARA in 2016 to train for her second Chicago Marathon, met some of her best friends, and has never looked back. In addition to the friendships CARA provided to Kim, the running club has also proven to be a great source of encouragement, support, and motivation throughout her last 4 years. 


When Kim is not running, she loves spending time with her husband and friends, traveling (sometimes to run, sometimes for leisure), reading, and enjoying a good glass of Pinot Noir. 


Kim’s goals for this year are to PR at the Illinois or Grand Rapids Marathons and to run her 25th half marathon. Kim ran her last major race and 8th marathon with her husband in Berlin. She is so excited to represent CARA in 2020!




Kristin Taphorn


Kristin has completed several 5k’s, the Shamrock Shuffle, and several half marathons. In 2017, she watched her neighbor train and run the Chicago Marathon, and thought, “Why not me.” In 2018, Kristin ran the Chicago Marathon with Advocate Healthcare, raising money for Pediatric Mental Health, a cause very close to home for her. Yet, she would not have made it to the starting line without CARA’s support and the #PowerOfTheGroup.


She has been active in CARA Darien’s Summer Marathon Training Program since 2018, and will run Chicago again this summer. She is currently doing her first season of Winter Training with CARA at the Morton Arboretum.


Some of Kristin’s most memorable marathons have been Chicago, Detroit (Marathon Relay), and Grand Rapids. She also loves the Randy Walker Memorial 5k at her alma mater, Northwestern University, which she runs with her family each summer. As a mother of two young boys, she loves to encourage them along with her friends and their families to be active and give racing a try. She finds it very rewarding to watch friends and family cross the finish line!

Lisa McQueen


Lisa is here for all those runners who didn’t discover the sport until later in life. Always picked last for every sports team in grade school, she surprised everyone – including herself – when she ran her first marathon in 2015 (Chicago) at the age of 42. She’s run 7 more marathons since then and just completed her first 50K. If she can do it, you can too! She lives near the south side of Chicago and you can catch her on the lakefront where as a native Floridian she has embraced the Chicago running culture: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. You may even spot one of her kids running with her, though these days they are getting faster and faster. You’ll certainly see her at odd hours to fit in her training around shifts in the pediatric emergency department at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.




Lisa Verdon


Lisa is a mother runner to four kids and a full-time college health nurse from the Northside of Chicago. Lisa started running in 2011 to combat postpartum depression after her fourth child and has not stopped since. Lisa ran her first marathon (Chicago) in 2012 and says she “couldn’t have done it without the help, motivation, and encouragement from CARA’s Summer Marathon Training!” Since then, she has run more than 7 marathons and more than 18 half marathons. Lisa is looking forward to giving back, encouraging, and motivating runners just like those that helped her in 2012. Through the years running with CARA, Lisa has met amazing friends, ran great races and finally met her goal of getting first place in the Athena Division in the CARA Runners Choice Circuit last year. She is very excited to be able to continue to advocate for runners all over Chicago as a CARA Ambassador.


Twitter | Instagram | Strava


Lynn Crim


Lynn Crim didn’t run for either high school or college teams but has been running for enjoyment for over 40 years. After convincing his mom to start running in the 70s, she ended up running the first seven Chicago Marathons. While supporting her at one of the marathons, he started chatting with other spectators with black armbands on. They were out there protesting the late start time for the Marathon, and he later found out that they were the founders of what would become CARA. After joining CARA in 1999, Lynn ran his first Chicago Marathon in 2000. 2019 marks his 27th marathon, and 16th Chicago Marathon. While usually racing at least once each weekend, Lynn generally ends up with about 40 races a year. He has completed five of the six majors and plans on completing them in Tokyo in 2020, and has been an active competitor on the CARA Circuit since joining in 1999. Outside of running, Lynn is the Controller at Freedman Seating Company in Chicago. Married for 33 years (“I won that lottery”), he has two sons and resides in a townhouse in the northern suburbs so he can focus on running instead of house maintenance.



Mandi Florip

Mandi Florip is an avid runner, participating in 3-4 races each month throughout the Chicagoland area. She is an attorney and the Executive Director of a council of government in Lake County. Mandi is also the Digital Editor of Chicago Athlete Magazine.

Instagram | Chicago Athlete Column |  Facebook

Matthew (Matt) Resendiz

Matt was born, raised, and currently lives in Chicago (Jefferson Park) with his wife and 2 year old daughter. He is an elementary school PE teacher for Chicago Public Schools and loves sharing his running and fitness experiences with his students in hopes that it will motivate them to enjoy being fit and active as they grow up.


Matt started running in 2016 to change up his regular fitness routine and it spiraled into a crazy obsession. Since then he has run 4 marathons (2016, 2017 & 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon) with his PR of 3:27:30 coming in Chicago last year! Aside from getting outside and running, Matt loves training at Orangetheory Fitness. He tries to get to a class 3 times a week depending on outdoor running conditions. OTF has helped him get faster outside and feel all around stronger.


Some of Matt’s goals for 2020 include running 1,200 miles outdoors, run from Chicago to Kenosha, Wisconsin (50ish miles one way), and running a fall marathon in a different city this year. Over Matt’s first 4 years of running CARA has been an important part of his running experience. He has met a lot of new friends during summer marathon training programs that have helped him a lot and he looks forward to what 2020 will bring!

Instagram | Strava

Megan Kosinski 


Megan started running in college by training for a charity 5k, but became hooked after spectating the Chicago Marathon in 2015. Inspired by the runners, she entered the marathon lottery for the following year; Megan will be running her fifth marathon in 2020. Megan has been a CARA group leader for winter half, spring half, and summer marathon programs, and has loved the community and amazing friends she found in this community. When not running, you can find Megan working as an exhibition manager at the Art Institute of Chicago and catering to her cat, Maisie.


Instagram | Strava


Shayna Jensky


Shayna, a Deerfield, Illinois native, fell in love with running back in 2012 when she ran a 5k in memory of her father. She enjoyed the experience so much that she started registering for more races and hasn’t stopped running since. She has completed five marathons - Chicago (3x), London, & New York! Shayna is chasing that sub-4-hour marathon dream and determined to complete all 6 World Marathon Majors. When Shayna isn’t running or talking about it, she’s on a search for the best “all you can eat” restaurants in the city, binge-watching tv or working in nonprofit.

Sippi Katz-Janssen


Sippi first joined CARA when training for her first marathon in 2012. She and her husband Avi have been active members of the Sunday Montrose Group every since. She credits/blames the amazing CARA community for the 8 marathons and one 50K she has run since that first summer. Sippi's favorite distance is the 1/2 marathon.  She is looking forward to running her favorite race (the March Madness Half in Cary IL) for the 8th time. She is planning on running the Milwaukee Marathon for the second time this spring in preparation for the Ice Age 50K. When not running outside, she works out at Orangetheory Fitness in Evanston, and binge watches Netflix while running on her basement treadmill.  Sippi works as an early childhood school psychologist. She loves being outdoors, the New York Times Crossword, cooking, and being a Mom to two great children, Lizzie and Owen. 

Tera O’Malley


Tera has been a member of CARA since 2008. She started out running local 5K races, 10k races and then worked her way up to a half marathon, completing her 1st half marathon in Las Vegas in 2011. After that, a marathon was in her sights. In 2012, she signed up for the BOA Chicago Marathon with Ronald McDonald House Charities (TEAM RMHC) was participant with the CARA Summer Marathon Training in Darien, IL.  What she thought at that time was a one-time marathon. Little did she know, that summer training program in 2012 would forever change her life. Now, 7 marathons later and counting, it was and continues to be, a rewarding experience as she’s grown to love the sport of running. No matter the pace, the team is always there to support and encourage fellow runners. Tera has met so many close friends with the same goals and aspirations that keep her running to this day.

In 2015, Tera became a CARA Group Leader and has been leading both Winter/Spring and Summer Training Marathon Programs since. This year, she is one of two site coordinators for the Winter Marathon Training Program at the Morton Arboretum.  This opportunity has allowed her to help motivate fellow runners to achieve their goals, see their full potential, and prepare them for the start line on race day, ultimately crossing that finish line!

Instagram | Strava

Tessa Burke 


Tessa currently lives in the far northwest suburbs, but as someone who lived in Chicago for more than three decades, she jumps and runs at any chance to train with fellow CARA members on the lakefront path. When she’s not running or working as a customer success manager for a company she loves, her favorite things to do are to watch her daughter, Emelia, do gymnastics, or to cross train in the karate class she takes with her son, Liam. In 2020 she will run her third Chicago marathon as a charity runner for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and she is extremely proud to not only raise money for this cause, but also to bring awareness to Suicide prevention and mental health conditions.


Wendy Rivard


I’ve been a runner most of my adult life! I’ve run multiple marathons and half marathons, and love to run in Chicago. I have rheumatoid arthritis, but I continue to run and train as much as I can! I also do CrossFit, yoga, and strength training, and I love to waterski. I’m a married mom of 2 grown boys and I work as a pediatric nurse practitioner.


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