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106: Designing a Leadership Pipeline for 23,000 Volunteers

Time + Talent Podcast

Release Date: 11/07/2019

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That’s not a typo – the New York Roadrunners, the organization that plans running events including the New York City Marathon, engages 23,000 volunteers a year. Erika Amaya joins us to talk about how she couldn’t make that happen without volunteer leaders.

As the manager of a “mega program” that engages over 23,000 volunteers a year, volunteer leadership is critical.  But, in recent years, the New York Road Runners found they were losing the legacy volunteers they had counted on for so many years due to volunteer retirements.  So, they took action and revamped their volunteer leadership training and development program.

They started with the end in mind, planning for three years out and focusing their approach on trials and iteration. They gathered feedback from volunteers and event coordinators, defined roles more concretely, and developed a ‘core mile captain’ training, and added more social elements to the volunteer experience. It took them five years to refine their work into a standardized leadership development program and succession pipeline for their race captains. Now, they begin recruitment for the next year the day after a race, and enjoy a full complement of volunteer leaders who help them run this large initiative.

According to Erika “anxiety is just another barrier to entry.”  So, they took concrete steps to reduce the anxiety of the service experience by focusing on clear communications and “making the assumed explicit.”

If you are interested in volunteer opportunities with the New York Road Runners, visit https://nyrr.org/getinvolved/volunteer. If you have questions, you can reach out directly to volunteers@nyrr.org.

You can connect with them on Facebook: @NewYorkRoadRunners, Twitter: @nyrr, and Instagram: @nyrr and with the social tags: #nyrrvols #teamnyrr #tcsnycmarathon.

Guest Bio:

Erika Amaya

Senior Manager, Volunteer Operations (former)

New York Road Runners

Erika Amaya is a passionate advocate for volunteer engagement and community resiliency. As the prevoius senior manager of volunteer operations for New York Road Runners, she oversaw 23,000 volunteers annually. NYRR hosts the largest marathon in the world, the TCS New York City Marathon, which engages 10,000 volunteers on race day.

Erika presented at the Running USA industry conference about retaining and recruiting volunteers and at the National Council for Safety in Spector Sports Marathon Summit about training volunteers for the least expected. In 2017 she founded the Race Volunteer Managers Collective, with Mary Miller of the Boston Athletic Association, which invites race organizers to join quarterly calls to share best practices and key learnings.

Prior to joining the New York Road Runners Erika coordinated adult volunteers to mentor middle and high school students in leadership for Florida YMCA Youth In Government. She still volunteers on their organizing committee and celebrated her 11th year as a graduate advisor this past February.

Erika can also be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/erikaamaya/.