Associate Board

The Recovery on Water Associate Board is comprised of talented young professionals that have come together to spread awareness of ROW’s mission through events, growing a volume-based donor pool, volunteer and recruiting initiatives.

 

hemingway benton

Hemingway started her rowing career at New Trier High school in Winnetka, IL. After falling in love with the sport she competed in the 2010 Junior World Championships in the pair. After high school, Hemingway attended the University of Virginia. Rowing in the Varsity 8 all four years, her boat won the 2012 NCAA championship in the V8 and team title, 4 ACC gold medals, and Hemingway became an All American in her senior year. 

Now living back in Chicago and working in sales at Salesforce.com, Hemingway turned to ROW® to revisit her rowing career and help other women become passionate about rowing as well as passionate about their health after cancer treatment. 

Monica bernardo

Monica began her rowing career at St. Ignatius College Prep in 2009 and found her calling as a coxswain her junior year. She coxed and rowed lightweight at The Catholic University in Washington, DC.  Monica competes with masters team, Avalon Rowing Club. She has been a ROW® volunteer since 2009, worked as a development & operations intern the summer of 2014, now coaches masters and novice teams. Monica is a UCanROW2/Concept2 certified  and USRowing Level II certified rowing coach. 

An active fundraiser for ROW®, Monica rode 1,000 miles around Lake Michigan with Bike4ROW 2015 and ran The 2016 & 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, raising funds and awareness for the team. Monica works as a marketing copywriter & brand manager. She brings event planning, social media & marketing management experience to the Associate Board.

MATT CONNELLY

Matt began rowing as a freshman in high school at Saint Ignatius at the prodding of his parents. He quickly found out that there was no where he would rather be than out on the water in a racing shell.  After rowing for 4 years at Ignatius, he went on to row for the MIT Heavyweight Men's team for another 4 years. He continues to compete in a handful of alumni events with his college classmates, most notably the Head of the Charles every fall.

When he returned to Chicago after school to work, Matt was looking for a way to stay involved in the rowing community.  That was when he ran into his old novice rowing coach Jenn, and recalled that she had started ROW during his Freshman year.  Having known family members who battled against breast cancer, joining the ROW team was the perfect way to keep rowing.  He looks forward to bringing that same passion from a decade of rowing to the ROW community and team

paul frazel

Paul was one of the first student volunteers with ROW during his four years' rowing at St. Ignatius (2007-2011), and has been ecstatic to see the organization grow exponentially over the past decade. After St. Ignatius, Paul rowed lightweight for two years at Dartmouth College before leaving the team to pursue science.

Paul is currently a MD/PhD student at NYU School of Medicine, interested in pursuing neuroscience research for his career. Now that he will be in NYC for the next ~8 years, he is excited to help the program expand eastward and provide general medical input for the board!

amanda huebner

Amanda’s athletic career started at five years old when she joined competitive swim team at her family’s country club in Kansas City. Around the same time, her family started spending their summers boating at their lake house in Missouri and it became clear that she belonged on the water. She continued to swim throughout high school and was a four year varsity letter winner. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Journalism and minor in Business and moved to New York City to work in event planning. 

Amanda is now a triathlete and fitness instructor, teaching boot camp at Yoga Six and ENRGi, and stand-up paddle boarding for Chicago Paddle Co. She brings her instructor voice to the coxswain seat and her event planning background to the Associate Board, and is honored to help ROW continue to be a bright light in people’s lives. 

abby justinger

Abby started her athletic career as a USA competitive swimmer at the early age of six, where she crafted her dedication both inside & outside of the pool. From practices early in the morning and after school, to college level classes, Justinger committed. It was this dedication to athletics & academics that caught the eyes of College recruiters. After much debate, trying a new sport at a top-rated school was the best option for both Abby's career & self-development.  She rowed 3 years for the University of Central Florida (UCF), graduating a year early with a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing. Abby helped bring home her team’s first Conference Championship in 2015, and second Conference Championship title in 2016.

Abby recently moved to Chicago and works in pharmaceuticals for Abelson Taylor. She works with a variety of cancer fighting drugs & found out about ROW® through a coworker who saw her passion in rowing/work cross.  Abby aspires to influence women and be a part of a community that is much bigger then herself. The women at ROW® help Justinger realize that strength is the new pretty.

Melissa Montague

Melissa began her rowing career as a freshman in high school at Maritime Rowing Club in Connecticut and continued to row competitively until her sophomore year at Georgetown University, where she unfortunately developed a recurring back injury.  She had the opportunity to compete in many of the top (and arguably most fun) national regattas, such as the Head of the Charles and the San Diego Crew Classic.  During her 7-year rowing hiatus, Melissa completed her master's degree in social work at the University of Chicago and delved into other forms of exercise that helped to heal her body, such as yoga and Pilates.  Her family was deeply affected by cancer throughout this time as well.  After being introduced to ROW in 2017, she knew she found a place that connected two meaningful parts of her life and ignited her passion to get in a boat (and erg!) again.  

In her free time, she loves walking by the lake with her husband and their pup, Luna, sipping coffee with a good read at her local coffee shop, and chasing warm weather and sunshine throughout the country during the rough Chicago winters!

christine oksas

Christine rowed for four years in high school as a heavyweight and lightweight rower on the Saint Ignatius College Prep (SICP) women's team, and trained and raced with the Chicago Training Center (CTC) men's and women's teams. She was varsity coxswain on the University of Illinois Rowing Club men's team for one season. Christine currently works at a health tech startup in Chicago. She is an avid wellness enthusiast, and hops on an erg at least once a week... just not at 5am! 

With Jenn as her novice coach in high school, Christine volunteered at ROW practice and events throughout her four years at SICP. She is excited to join ROW once more as an Associate Board member to help the organization grow, and to support a mission based in wellness and community. 

Alex Swift

Alex began her rowing career at New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL and continued on to row four years at Columbia University in New York. After college Alex moved to Boston to begin her career in data analytics. While in Boston, Alex channeled her passion for community involvement as a founding board member of the non-profit political action group Indivisible Somerville. She returned to Chicago in February, 2018 and is thrilled to share her passion for rowing with the ROW community.


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