Jenn Gibbons, Executive Director

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USRowing Level II Certified Coach, Concept 2 Certified Coach,
RYT200 Yoga Instructor

Jenn first began rowing at Michigan State University. She began her coaching career at Ignatius Chicago Crew (ICC) in 2005. It was while coaching for ICC that Jenn met ROW co-founder Sue Ann Glaser and, together, they founded the organization in 2007.

While leading ROW as a volunteer, Jenn worked as a research analyst, nonprofit event coordinator, and corporate account manager, building a diverse operational skillset. In fall 2012, after rowing the 1,500 mile perimeter of Lake Michigan and raising $150,000 to purchase boats for ROW earlier in the year, Jenn was hired full-time as ROW’s Executive Director. She now leverages her experience to manage operations, assess programs, and build relationships with partners and supporters.

Jenn has been honored with the Athena Foundation Chicago Young Professional Award (2009), Today’s Chicago Woman’s INSPIRED Award (2010), the Spartan Innovator Award from the Michigan State Chicago Alumni Association (2014), the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Lakeview High School (2016), and the USRowing Anita DeFrantz Award (2018). She has also been recognized as a USRowing Masters Coach of the Year (2011), and she sits on the Advisory Board for Girls in the Game.


Devlin Murdock, Programs Manager

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USRowing Level II Certified Coach

Growing up in Easton, Connecticut, Devlin rowed for the Saugatuck Rowing Club in high school, and he continued to compete as a collegiate rower at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He enjoyed much success at both levels, including national championships as a single sculler in high school and as an oarsman college.

Following his college graduation, Devlin spent nearly a decade away from the sport of rowing, but in 2014 he made a celebrated return by joining the ROW coaching staff. He has never looked back, and is now a much-loved leader among the women on our team.

Devlin shares his passion for rowing with the women of ROW as both a certified coach and also as the organization’s Programs Manager. In the latter role, Devlin oversees daily operations, manages coaching staff and partner relations, and, in collaboration with head coach Austin Work, develops annual curriculum to serve our team on the water and on the ergs. Devlin is also responsible for routinely evaluating ROW’s impact to determine how our programs should be adjusted or potentially expanded; to do this, he tracks a variety of program and participant data, including weekly attendance reports and an annual member survey.


Kathleen Behner, Operations & Outreach Coordinator

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Kathleen joined the ROW team in 2009, eager to explore a new sport and remain active in her cancer recovery. Then, in 2017, she was invited to represent the organization in an entirely new way as a full-time staff member. In her role as Operations and Outreach Coordinator, Kathleen has found the silver lining of a very difficult diagnosis with ongoing side effects.

With an impressive professional history in nonprofit accounting and operations management, Kathleen brings incredible skill and insight to her role. In addition to managing accounts receivable, financial reporting, donor databases, and more, she is also a critical recruiter for the team. Every month, Kathleen visits local hospitals, nonprofit partners, and breast cancer conferences to share ROW’s mission with new patients, and she encourages them to become active in their recovery while gaining support for their ongoing breast cancer journey.

When not racking up meters on the river or a rowing machine, Kathleen can be found attending local theater productions or cycling alongside her husband. True to her motto "just keep moving," she takes every opportunity to explore European countries on a bicycle, taking in the array of sights, smells and tastes along the way.


 
 

Austin Work, Head Coach

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USRowing Level III Certified Coach

Austin began rowing in 1998 as a high-school athlete attending Connecticut’s Salisbury School. He then went on to row at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he served as Varsity Captain. Following graduation, Austin moved to Chicago, and in fall 2004 he became a coach with the Chicago Rowing Foundation.

In 2009, Austin was hired to help lead the novice women of Wellesley College. Competitively, he helped develop 12 NCAA All-Americans and aided in making “The Blue” a permanent fixture on the podium at five consecutive NCAA Championships. His crews also won the 2012 ECAC Championship and five consecutive Seven Sisters and NEWMAC conference championships.

In 2014, as the Head Junior Coach at the Austin Rowing Club (ARC), where he later became the Director of Rowing, Austin helped the ARC athletes finish consistently in the top 20 at the USRowing Youth National Championships. He then moved to Florida in 2017 to serve as the Director of Rowing for Vero Beach Rowing and, there he helped navigate the Junior transition from Scholastic to Club, contributed to a 20 percent increase in master members, raised over $50K for Junior operations and scholarships, and assisted in the design of the organization’s new $2.4 million boathouse.


 
 

MaryRuth O’Neal, Event & Communications Manager

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MaryRuth’s writing career began very early—she took her first newspaper job at age 13 and was an aspiring journalist throughout high school and college, where she wrote for multiple campus publications. But following graduation she landed at her first creative agency, launching a nearly 15-year career in copywriting, branding, content strategy development and communications management.

After more than a decade working with varied brands and clientele, MaryRuth became a highly versatile communicator with the ability to adapt her style for any variety of unique needs and voices.

With ROW she shifted her focus more heavily toward digital strategy, events management and communications, and she took advantage of an opportunity to more directly support a growing group with whom she had a long history. MaryRuth began volunteering with ROW in 2012, at which time she took over our newsletter and began sharing our early athlete stories, and in 2015 she began publishing ROW’s annual report, collaborating with her husband for layout and design.

Though not a rower herself, MaryRuth is an avid believer in the power of fitness and is a certified personal trainer.

 

ROW Coaches

 
 
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John Albrecht, Novice Coach

USRowing Level II Certified Coach,
Concept 2 Certified Coach

John rowed with the Marquette University Rowing Club from January 2010 to May 2012, becoming part of a tight-knit varsity squad along the way. During summer breaks he worked with the Milwaukee Rowing Club to help orchestrate collegiate rowing for Marquette and the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He believes passionately in the discipline and camaraderie that rowing can provide to those who are dedicated to the sport. In 2011, John was introduced to ROW during a row-a-thon fundraiser. He began volunteering with us in 2013, and he now serves as a novice coach and community class leader.

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Monica Bernardo, Novice Coach

USRowing Level II Certified Coach,
Concept 2 Certified Coach

Monica began rowing as a freshman at St. Ignatius College Prep, but eventually found her true calling as coxswain after suffering a shoulder injury in her junior year. In college, Monica coxed for both The Catholic University and the Avalon Rowing Club. It was in high school that Monica first began volunteering for ROW, and she then joined us as an intern in 2014. Today Monica coaches our novice teams and chairs the Recovery on Water Associate Board, a group of young Chicago professionals who support ROW through various fundraisers, recruitment efforts and volunteer days.

 
 

 
 

Lindsey Hochman, Masters Coach

Lindsay rowed throughout high school and also during her time at Colgate University; following college, she moved to Seattle to train for the United States National Rowing Team. In her three years as a member of the national team, Lindsey earned two bronze medals and one fourth-place finish in the lightweight quad. After finishing her own rowing career, she spent a number of years as a coaching, developing education and training programs, handling team logistics, and advising and mentoring athletes. Most recently, Lindsey spent two years coaching the Division III collegiate novice women at Hobart and William Smith College followed by two years coaching Division I at the University of San Diego.

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Lily Papaleo, Assistant Head Coach

USRowing Level II Certified Coach

Lily tried rowing on a whim during her freshman year of high school, and then spent four years rowing with the Lincoln Park Juniors (now Chicago Rowing Foundation). During that time she moved from the fourth Varsity 8 to the first, was voted senior captain, and was recognized as both the Most Improved and Most Valuable Oarswoman. Lily rowed throughout her college career at Temple University, and she finished the 2016 season in the Varsity 8, placing third at the American Athletic Conference Championships—the highest finish in Temple Rowing history. She was also honored as a second team All-American. After first joining ROW as an intern during the 2014 Bike4ROW event, Lily became assistant head coach in 2018 with the goal to help every ROW athlete achieve and surpass her goals.

 
 

 
 
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Kymberly Reynolds, Survivor & Indoor Rowing Coach

Concept 2 Certified Coach

A breast cancer survivor since 2012 and a ROW member since March 2013, Kym believes utterly in the power of living life by the day and aims to never “sweat the small stuff.” Though she initially had reservations about joining the team, Kym is now quick to tell others that her teammates and the ROW staff have become a part of her family. In 2016, Kym earned her Concept 2 coaching certification and began coaching ROW’s community class, in part as a way to pay forward the empowerment and joy she herself found in ROW. As of 2019, Kym is also a licensed rowing referee.

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Sarah Sherman, Rowing Coach

After a 16-year commitment to competitive ice hockey, a traumatic brain injury lead Sara Sherman to become a walk-on rower at Michigan State University. She competed in the Novice 8+ her first year before being voted a team captain for her second year, and moving up to the second-varsity 8+. She was an Academic All-Big Ten award winner in 2012 and 2013, and won the 2014 B1G Sportsmanship Award.

In 2014, Sara moved to Sydney, Australia, where she coached all ages at the Leichhardt Rowing Club while also working as an elementary school physical education teacher. She returned to the U.S. after two years to pursue a master’s degree, and at that time also became a volunteer coach for the NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Team. Sara is now working toward her Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois, and she joined the ROW coaching staff in spring 2019.