Meet our global 261 Fearless Team

261 Fearless Board of Directors

(left to right: Howard Lipset, Kathrine Switzer, Edith Zuschmann & Horst von Bohlen)

Kathrine Switzer is the Founder & Chairperson of 261 Fearless

Kathrine is the Board Chair and co-founder of the non-profit 261 Fearless. She was the first woman to officially register and run the Boston Marathon in 1967. Because she was a woman, she was attacked in the race by an angry official who tried to rip off her bib number (#261). She finished anyway and went on to win the 1974 New York City Marathon and then led the drive to make the women's marathon an official Olympic event in 1984. Now, 58% of all runners in the USA are women. To celebrate this social revolution and the 50th anniversary of her legendary run, Switzer ran the Boston Marathon again in 2017, at age 70. This run inspired women around the world.  

Edith Zuschmann is the CEO, President, and co-founder of 261 Fearless

She is in charge of the global 261 Club network and global communication and outreach. A nationally ranked swimmer-turned-distance runner in her native Austria, Edith drives the passion to support women globally to find the joy and power in being active. She is a nationally certified athletic and running coach focusing on young athletes and women and continues also as a lecturer of sports marketing at the University of Applied Sciences, Wiener Neustadt, Austria, where she also received her master’s degree in business consultancy and leadership. Edith is a frequent contributor to European running, health, women’s and business publications.

Horst von Bohlen is member of the 261 Fearless Board and Director of the global 261 Education program

He is responsible for the Education of all 261 Coaches and Master-Coaches globally. He is also a photographer and videographer for 261 Fearless. After studying Electrical Engineering, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Horst worked many years in psychophysiological research with the focus on chronic pain, biofeedback and biomechanics. As the managing director he was in charge of Psychosomatic Hospitals in Germany and Austria. Since his youth Horst runs and deals intensively with biomechanics and running technique. As responsible for further education in a large Austrian physiotherapy company, Horst develops health programs for different companies and training institutes.

Howard Lipset is our 261 Treasurer & Accountant


261 Fearless Global Team

Djamila Peter is the Coordinator of Empowerment Classes for German-speaking Coaches

Djamila is one of the founders of the 261 Club in Germany and 261 Coach of the 261 Fearless Club in Berlin Tegel. She lives in Berlin together with her husband Olli, her son Hugo and her dog Barnie. They love nature, especially the mountains and endurance sports. Therefore, they spend most of their time outdoors as a family. Djamila works in Human Resources and has a degree in Business Administration with a focus on Human Resouces. Her passion for sports dates back to elementary school. For many years she played handball, until her heart was set on running. As a young mother, she wants to encourage women to take time for themselves. Since she grew up in club sports for years, she knows about the benefits of a community. Djamila wants to share this feeling of belonging to a great community and the joy of running with other women. The people she has met in sports so far, she can't imagine being without, they enrich her life a lot. Djamila is incredibly thankful for that.

Christina Mayer is in charge of the 261 Friendship Program and Internal Communication

She lives in Vienna, Austria and works as a freelance interpreter and translator for German, English, Spanish and French. She originally comes from the south of Austria, a mountainous region, but moved to Vienna for her University studies. Christina loves learning new languages, exploring new cultures and traveling and has spent some years abroad in Spain, France and Madagascar. She has become involved in 261 Fearless just recently. She is the right person for everything that is related to translations, interpretation and languages in general. Christina started running when she was about 12 years old. Her mum and her grandma started to run very short distances on a regular basis and they took Christina with them. Now, unfortunately, none of the two runs anymore, but Christina never stopped running ever since. Now, she is proud to be part of 261 Fearless and can support women to be empowered through her favorite sport: running!


Debbie Mills is our Charity & Event Manager

From fighting off pirates in the South China Sea, being mugged in Bombay and evacuated from China, to now raising 3 sports-loving boys in New Jersey, Deb‘s life is one big adventure! Never athletic as a child – always the last to be picked for a team and the first to be hit in dodgeball – she discovered running 9 years ago at the age of 40. She‘s a proud and enthusiastic back-of-the-packer and passionately tells women that if you run, you are a runner! A former HR and Communications professional, Deb is now the Charity Manager for 261 Fearless and spends her days working with women around the world who are full of enthusiasm for our mission!  Deb lives in a house full of cleats, football pads, soccer balls, dirty sports uniforms and nerf guns, along with her husband, sons, a dog that chases bears and deer, a cat and a lizard. She runs for sanity, peace and quiet, and most importantly, empowerment!  

Emily Ertel is involved with 261 Fearless as a Master Coach and Head of Coaches North America

She started a Club in her area (261 Fearless Club Twin Cities). Emily’s professional and educational background is in Human Resources. She attended Bemidji State University, receiving an undergraduate degree in Political Science with a Women’s Studies Minor and attended the University of St. Thomas for postgraduate work, receiving a master’s degree in human resources and Change Management. Her professional background has included traditional Human Resource Generalist and Management roles in both non-profit and for-profit institutions. Emily is most fulfilled when immersed in the causes that rest closest to her heart – her family, her community (particularly the underserved), travel and running! She lives in Prior Lake, MN with her husband (Mike), twin boys (Caleb and Mason) and loyal pooch (Lucy). Little did she know when she attended her Train the Trainer weekend in Denver, CO how her adventure with the organization would unfold! She expresses being grateful for how 261 Fearless has stretched, strengthened and fulfilled her in ways beyond anything she’d imagined! 

Gayle McMurry is our event manager

Gayle is a long-term resident of Chicago, Illinois, where she lives with her husband. They have their own legal practice specializing in contract, patent, and trademark law. She has been working with 261 Fearless for over a year now, offering administrative and legal support to the Board and staff on a variety of 261 programs, and coordinating 261 participation in running events around the country. Gayle is particularly excited about her new role as one of the Directors of the soon to launch Club Metro Chicago. Gayle came late in life to running. She started 20 years ago at age 45, and it has become a passion of hers ever since. She remains active in the Chicago running community. She hs run quite a few races, including 15 marathons on 4 of the 7 continents, and has dabbled in some adventure running and hiking. Running has positively impacted virtually every area her life. She is thrilled to be involved in and support a group like 261 that will bring these same changes to other women.

Dr. Juliet McGrattan is the Women's Health Expert for 261 Fearless, a Master Coach and supporting the international 261 Club Network

She lives in England, has three children, a crazy dog and is a doctor by trade. She is one of the founders and Directors of 261 Fearless Club United Kingdom and a coach at two clubs in the Lune Valley and Lancaster. Her passion is inspiring women to find health and wellbeing through leading active lives. She blogs at, is the Women's Running UK Health Expert and the author of the award-winning book Sorted: The Active Woman's Guide to Health published by Bloomsbury. Most of the time she loves running but sometimes she admits that getting her trainers on and heading out of the door is really hard; but she never regrets it! 

Lisa Ruggles is the Coordinator of Empowerment Classes for English-speaking Coaches, Master Coach in training and Group Leader of the 261 Fearless Club Bicester

Lisa is a 40-year-old mum, step-mum and mother-in-law to seven wonderful human beings and also wife to her husband Keith. She lives a short distance from Oxford, UK, is a 261 Fearless Master Coach in-training and runs at the 261 Fearless Club Bicester. Lisa has only been running for four years, but it has changed her life. Five years ago, there is no way she would've dreamed of running, or coaching a group of ladies and definitely not standing up in front of people and training them. She truly believes in the unique ability running has to unite and empower women and feels privileged to be a part of the 261 Fearless Empowerment Programme.

Melissa Stringer is the Head of Master Coaches as well as Club Directors in North America and manages the online web shop

She started the local club in Kansas City in 2017. She divides her time between KC and Texas where her boyfriend lives. Melissa has a BS in Math and Statistics and recently completed her Master of Science in Data Analytics.  She is a certified web developer, running coach, and 261 Fearless coach. Her day job is as a Systems Developer for a nationwide telecommunications company. This position is the equivalent of a software developer who is able to communicate and socialize moderately well with end users. Melissa is a lifelong learner who enjoys working on whatever new hobby she’s recently purchased the accessories for.  Currently this includes photography, learning new languages both foreign and coding, and traveling. Her love of travel has afforded her many opportunities within 261 Fearless.  In addition to teaching at Train the Trainer weekends across the U.S. she has also taught in England, Germany, and New Zealand! Melissa’s favorite thing about 261 Fearless are the almost undefinable moments she’s been included in.  Women across the world are so incredibly unique and yet we are able to come together and build each other up in such a way that fills each of our distinctly different buckets.  It’s a truly amazing feeling to know you have sole sisters around the world all having the same experience within 261 Fearless.

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