The chief executive of the New York Road Runners, the nonprofit behind the NYC Marathon, will step down in the face of allegations that he fostered a toxic and racist work culture at the influential running club.
Michael Capiraso, who served as NYRR president and CEO since 2015, will exit the position at the end of this year, the organization announced on Monday. In a statement, George Hirsch, the chairman of the organization, said the group would recruit new leadership “to achieve our mission to help and inspire people through running.”
“Over the past several months, the Board of Directors has listened to the concerns raised and recommendations offered by the community NYRR serves, including its employees and members of the broader running community,” Hirsch added.
The organization has faced a wave of internal and external scrutiny for its treatment of people of color under Capiraso. A petition launched in September by current and former NYRR employees called for the executive’s immediate resignation, alleging years of workplace “racism, bias, and bullying that goes unchecked.”
A subsequent investigation by Runners World featured the accounts of sixteen former and current employees, who said that white staffers benefitted from better pay and faster promotions within the company. They noted that a position for director of diversity, equity, and inclusion had gone unfilled for 19 months.
Following the killing of George Floyd, the NYRR Instagram account shared a message — later deleted — with the words “justice for all,” seen by many as tone-deaf and purposely vague.
The group has since hired Erica Edwards-O’Neal, a former city government employee, as vice president of diversity. The law firm Proskauer Rose is also conducting an investigation into workplace culture at the nonprofit.
Kerin Hempel, the previous VP of strategy and planning, will serve as interim CEO as a search is underway.
The running club first launched in 1958, and bills itself as the world’s top community running organization. The group’s popular marathon, which normally takes place in November, was cancelled in June as a result of the pandemic, costing the club millions of dollars.
NYRR has since laid off or furloughed 91 of its 229 employees, according to Runners World.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the NYRR running community for the past 10 years,” Capiraso said in a statement. “I am proud of the growth the organization and I have achieved and the impact we have had, and I wish NYRR continued success.”