wear blue: run to remember is the collective effort of an all-volunteer staff. Meet the team:
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Lisa Hallett is the President and Co-Founder of wear blue: run to remember. On August 25, 2009, Lisa’s husband, CPT John Hallett, was killed when his Stryker was attacked with an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan. Surviving the loss of her husband, best friend, and father of her three young children, Lisa turned to running. An avid runner, she soon found a community that needed the same kind of support that running gave her. Creating wear blue gave Lisa a healthy outlet for her grief and a path to move forward, and she’s committed to sharing that with others. Lisa has an M.Ed.T. from University of Hawaii and a B.A. in English Literature from University of California- Santa Barbara. She completed her fifth ultra-marathon in December 2013, and has set a full marathon PR of 3:37:52. Lisa has completed three Ironman races, with her most recent the Ironman World Championships. Lisa and her three young children reside in DuPont, WA. They are moving forward and loving life, honoring John with every step.
Erin O’Connor is the co-founder of wear blue: run to remember. An Army brat, Army spouse, and runner, creating wear blue was personal and natural. Sharing her belief in running as a coping mechanism, she loves seeing wear blue grow and provide a support network to so many. She holds an M.P.A. from Western Kentucky University and a B.A. in political science and communications from Virginia Tech. A lifelong runner, Erin ran her first marathon in Rome, Italy while her husband, a career Army Infantry officer, was deployed to Iraq for the first time. Many moves and deployments later, she has since completed seven marathons with a PR of 3:54. Currently stationed in Hawaii, Erin and her husband are raising their four children while continuing their Army adventure.
Ken Barber Chief Operations Officer
Ken Barber served 10 years in the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1991, he completed two combat deployments from ships based in San Diego. After his military service, Ken earned an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from DePaul University. He went on to hold leadership positions in banking, corporate finance and several start up businesses. Most recently, Ken was the Executive Director of a veteran focused non-profit in Chicago. He runs 5 days a week and has completed 2 half-marathons, 3 sprint triathlons, and numerous 5k and 10k races. Ken is the father of 4 children (oldest is currently at the Naval Academy), all runners.
Chief Photographer and Visual Coordinator
Ingrid Barrentine has been making images for wear blue: run to remember since she worked as a photojournalist at the Northwest Guardian: the installation newspaper on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Ingrid came to the newspaper in 2009 with no military experience, so the first weeks were a crash course in rank, unit structure, and military propriety. Two weeks into the job, the first casualty notifications from the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division began to arrive at her desk. That year, Ingrid documented numerous memorial services and monument dedications, beginning to connect with many of the members of the initial wear blue community. In 2011, Ingrid started her own commercial photography business and has been volunteering with wear blue: run to remember ever since. Ingrid received her BA from the University of Washington Tacoma. Her commercial clients include Alaska Airlines, MultiCare Health Systems, and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
Director of Community meet-ups
Misty Ferguson graduated from Marshall University with a BBA in Business Management and holds a Masters of Business Administration (HR and Marketing) from George Washington University. Misty currently manages the west region for CASY/MSCCN, helping Veterans and their families prepare for future employment. Misty was introduced to wear blue by a friend in 2013 and first held a flag on the Blue Mile at the MCM that year. She knew then that she wanted to be more involved with wear blue, remembering those lost from her husband's units. Moving shortly after that MCM, Misty started a meet-up at Fort Bliss, TX and is the regional coordinator for the Pacific Region. Misty has completed the Army 10-Miler twice and the full 26.2 mile Bataan Memorial Death March and is looking forward to completing a half marathon this year. Currently at Fort Irwin, CA, Misty lives with her active duty husband and three boys.
Director of Community meet-ups
Brandi Morgan graduated with a BSBA from Auburn University with concentration in Human Resource Management. She also holds a Masters in Teaching from City University of Seattle. During her husband’s deployment several years ago, Brandi joined a group of fellow runners (now known as wear blue: run to remember) to run, heal, and support each another through that difficult deployment. She knew that although her words may not communicate her profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifices of our fallen, fighting, and their families, her actions through running with wear blue could demonstrate her support. With three half marathons completed, Brandi continues to run, having completed her first marathon at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon. Currently stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Brandi lives with her husband Josh, daughter Caroline, and is a 6th grade Communication Arts teacher.
Director of Marketing
Erin graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri with a B.S. in Human Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Child Life Specializing and Family Lifespan Development. Following her graduation from Mizzou, Erin accepted a role on the account management team working with the National Rifle Association’s advertising agency, working on their digital competencies, event marketing/promotion and social media entities. Following her experience with the NRA, Erin served on the account management team for the Folds of Honor Foundation in Owasso, Oklahoma and then for Moosylvania, where she managed website development, testimony videos, marketing materials, event planning, and more. Erin has run the Marine Corps Marathon in 2014 and 2015. Married to a naval officer, Erin currently resides in San Diego, California, and works for the Travis Manion Foundation.
Director of Memorial Day
Cindy Gersch has worked with the military for more than 20 years. She earned her BA in journalism from the State University of Brockport in 1998. Cindy was first introduced to the military as a reporter for the local CBS affiliate where her “beat” was Fort Drum. She now serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications for Hunt Companies where she oversees communications for more than 120,000 military family members living in one of the 32,000 Hunt Company homes throughout the country. Married to a Blackhawk Pilot who continues to serve in the National Guard, Cindy is the mother of two children who keep her extremely busy. Cindy has completed 12 full marathons, holding a PR of 3:37:25. She and her family live outside of Atlanta.
Director of Merchandise
Laura graduated from Frostburg State University with a B.S. degree in Business Management where she was on the Track & Field team. After returning to running in 2011, Laura discovered wear blue‘s website while searching for a way to honor LCpl Patrick R. Adle who was Killed in Action 29 June 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Experiencing the pain of losing someone during the War on Terror, having a husband who is an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran and a father who served over 30 years in the Army National Guard, wear blue‘s mission immediately resonated with Laura. She received a bib through the wear blue Marine Corps Marathon lottery in 2013 and completed her first full marathon with a time of 4:27. During this race Laura was able to honor Patrick’s sacrifice with a poster on the wear blue Mile. She is passionate about wear blue and its ability to bring many demographics together to serve the mission of honoring the service and sacrifice of the American military. Laura lives in Harford County, Maryland with her husband and son.
Director of Running & Training
Jen McDonald received her Bachelor's degree in physical therapy from the University of Vermont, a MS in Basic Sciences from Clarkson University, and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Simmons College. An Army ROTC scholarship recipient, Jen was commissioned into the Army Medical Specialist Corps after graduation from UVM and served on active duty at Ft. Benning, GA. She is currently a Professor in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at the State University of NY at Canton, and also practices as a PT at a local hospital. Jen is a RRCA certified running coach. An avid runner, Jen completed her first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, in 1996. She's completed 10 marathons, multiple half-marathons, and a number of sprint and Olympic triathlons. Jen is a Boston marathon qualifier and plans to run her first ultra marathon in 2017. Jen is passionate about helping people run healthy, in order to achieve both the physical and mental benefits of the sport and is honored to be able to support wear blue runners in achieving their goals. She lives in Northern NY with her husband, also an Army veteran, and is the proud mom of two adult sons.
Beth Stitt graduated from Norwich University Military college of Vermont with a B.S. degree in Recreation. She is presently an Army spouse of 21 years and a mother to two teenage daughters. A college athlete, an avid recreational runner and triathlete who has competed in 1 70.3 triathlon, 2 marathons, 7 half marathons, and multiple sprint triathlons. She came to wear blue through the Washington Post article and so closely identified with the mission of wear blue. Having seen first hand the devastating effects through the years of the GWOT, it felt like the perfect match for her as a runner and an Army spouse.
Kandi Newkirk attended The Ohio State University and holds a B.A. degree in Business Administration. Kandi began running after the birth of her only child in 2009. The personal challenges were exciting, but it was running through the wear blue Mile during her first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012, that changed her perspective completely. Kandi’s father served in Vietnam with the US Marine Corps. wear blue’s mission to honor the service and sacrifice of the American military resonated with her patriotic spirit, especially since little honor was shown when her father returned home after the Vietnam War. Kandi now finds purpose and passion in her steps as she honors several soldiers, one being her father’s friend, PFC Charles Wetzel, who was Killed in Action in Vietnam in 1966. Her passion can be seen through her delivery of the mission at each Expo. Kandi lives in Western North Carolina. She has completed 16 half marathons and is currently training for her 4th Marine Corps Marathon.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Chapter Co-President
Rachel Elizalde-Powell made a promise to her brother, SFC Adrian Elizalde, prior to his deployment to Iraq in 2007, that they would run a half marathon together. On August 23, 2007, Rachel’s brother and only sibling was killed when his vehicle was struck by an IED. Despite not being a runner, Rachel followed through with her promise and completed the Seattle Half Marathon in 2009. After seeing the wear blue Mile at the 2011 Seattle Rock n’ Roll Marathon, she began running with wear blue: run to remember. Running gave her a healthy way to feel Adrian’s presence. She has run multiple half marathons and 5 full marathons. Rachel works as a full-time clinical educator with medical devices and is currently earning her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management. Rachel’s drive, commitment and passion for the military has made her a natural leader in the wear blue: run to remember community.
Fort Bragg Chapter Co-President
Dave Leach enlisted in the Army in 1986 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. After being awarded a Green to Gold ROTC Scholarship and commission as an Aviation Officer, he served in a variety of aviation assignments at Fort Bragg, Turkey, Iraq, Germany, and Belgium. Dave earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Methodist University and a Master’s Degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. An ardent runner, Dave has completed 9 marathons, 2 half marathons, the Army Ten Miler, the Ironman (UK) in Sherborne, England, the Ironman 70.3 in Rapperswil, Switzerland, a half iron distance race in Lisbon, Portugal, and the JFK 50 Miler. Dave, his wife, and three children are all runners and support the wear blue mission.
Donald Junta Springfield, VA/DC Chapter Co-President
Don served on active duty as an Infantryman in the Army for three years. Donald met his wife, Irmgard, while stationed in Germany. Donald and Irmgard have three children, two West Point graduates, and one West Point cadet. Donald first heard about wear blue: run to remember from his son. Donald turned to his teammates at wear blue: run to remember for support during his son’s second deployment. Donald is an engineering supervisor at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Donald’s running career was highlighted by competing in the JFK 20K race in Washington DC with a time of 1:25:23. Currently Donald participates in local 5K races on a monthly basis. Donald finds great purpose in honoring our fallen heroes by serving as a wear blue volunteer at races in the Washington DC area.
Springfield, VA/DC Chapter Co-President
Melda is a 27 year Navy CIvil Engineer Corps (CEC) wife with six growing children and a background in nursing. Although she ran track in high school, she never considered distance running until a Navy friend with leukemia ran a half marathon to raise money for LLS. If someone can run a half marathon between rounds of chemo, she felt she had no excuses. She ran her first half marathon while stationed on Guam at 41 with a time of 2:03proving you can teach an old dog new tricks. She now runs in blue for Air Force Captain Brandon Cyr, the son of fellow CEC friends that were also stationed on Guam at the time of their sons death in April 2013. She is also a volunteer coach with Girls on the Run and shares her passion for running in blue with others.
Augusta, GA Chapter Co-President
Joe Matosian first encountered wear blue: run to remember at the Army Ten Miler Expo in 2013 and it immediately resonated with him, combining his passion for running with his love for our military. Shortly before the first Augusta meet-up on Memorial Day, 2014 Joe lost his son-in-law in a tragic accident. In the midst of his family’s devastating loss, Joe found strength and healing through running and his faith. It was then that the power of the wear blue community became clear to him. A career civil servant with the Department of Defense, Joe has worked at multiple duty stations in the Washington D.C. area, Germany, and now at Fort Gordon, Georgia over the past 27+ years. He attended the University of Maryland, College Park and earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Kinesiology. He is also a certified personal trainer. A lifelong runner, Joe has completed eleven marathons and many half marathons, Army Ten Milers, and shorter distance races. He has two grown daughters and currently resides with his wife, Gina, and their very spoiled miniature dachshund in the suburbs of Augusta, GA.
Augusta GA Chapter Co-President
Erik Adams enlisted in the US Army in 1999 as a Medic. He served two combat tours to Iraq and a special assignment as an Instructor. Erik lives in Augusta, GA where he works as a Hospital Operations Manager for the Fort Gordon Medical Center. He holds a BA in Health Care Administration from Ashford University and a MS in Organizations Development and Leadership from the University of the Incarnate Word. Erik is an active member of the New Leaders Council of Augusta, where he is able to impact his community in a positive and forward movement. His passion for running began in 2008, where Erik ran his first half marathon as part of the Music City Half Marathon - Nashville. Since then, he has completed over 14 other half marathons to include the Army Ten Miler in 2016. In July 2015, Erik joined the wear blue: run to remember family. Since then, he has taken an active role in spreading the mission of wear blue while improving and supporting the city of Augusta, GA.
Gold Star Race Program Director
Patricia Parks hold a BA in History and Public Relations from the University of Alaska Anchorage. After several years of working as a project manager for an insurance company, Trish returned to school and now works as a registered nurse. She is currently enrolled in a family nurse practitioner's program. Trish proudly runs in memory of Air Force Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot, tragically killed 27 August 2015. She has run many races in blue, noting several ultra, full and half marathons, to include the JFK 50 Miler. Serving as a member of wear blue and the Gold Star program provides her a way to give back to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, not only for her, but also her family and friends. She is passionate about serving our nation's families of the fallen.
Marine Corps Marathon Race Director
Meghan Malloy enlisted in the Army in 2000 and has been assigned to a variety of units around the United States and Germany, to include four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, she completed her first half marathon at the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon and her first full marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon. Since then, she has competed in dozens of half marathons, 12 full marathons, four 50ks, the JFK 50 Miler, and in the heavy division of the Bataan Memorial Death March four times. She runs to keep the memory of the brothers and sisters in arms that she lost while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan alive. Meghan is stationed with her husband Shannon, also a combat veteran, outside Washington DC at Fort Meade, Maryland with their four dogs and two cats.