Meet our 2019 Marathon Team!

For the fifth year, Literacy Partners is proud to be an official charity partner of the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. This November, 7 dedicated runners take the starting line for Team Literacy Partners. 

Together, their campaigns are highlighting the issue of adult literacy as they raise awareness and funds for our mission.

Meet our incredible runners that are adding meaning to their marathon journey, one mile at a time! To support #TeamLiteracyPartners, click here.


Jessica Cellana

Jessica is originally from Boston and moved to NYC two years ago to teach with the Harlem Children’s Zone. She is also a yoga teacher in the city. Jessica lives downtown, but spends a lot of time in the villages and in Harlem. This will be Jessica’s 6th marathon- and her second time running NYC!

What motivated you to run with Team Literacy Partners? Do you love to read? Do you have a personal experience connected to literacy?
I am, and always have been, an avid reader! I haven’t been able to put down books since I was taught how to read. A large part of that is due to my mom also being an avid reader. It is amazing now to swap books with her. As a kindergarten teacher I teach my students how to read. I often think about whether or not they read at home, and if they do, do they read with their parents? It is never too late to learn how to read or to become “a reader,” and I love that Literacy Partners is devoted to promoting adult and family literacy.

What do you find to be the most rewarding part about running for a charity organization?
The most rewarding part of running for a charity organization is knowing that your miles count toward something bigger than just you! Running is always rewarding, but when running for a charity, every run becomes meaningful knowing that the miles are counting toward the greater good.

How are you preparing for this marathon?
To train for this marathon I plan to incorporate a lot of spinning and yoga as cross training. I will still run 3-4 times a week, and include a long run each week. Mentally, I will keep remembering what it feels like to run each mile in New York and how amazing the Central Park finish line feels to cross!

What is your main goal on race day?
On race day I want to run through New York with a smile on my face, cross the finish line with an even bigger smile, and maybe finish with a sub 4 hour time!

What’s your favorite motivational song for running?
Anything by Third Eye Blind.

When you are not running, what other activities do you enjoy? Anything else you would like to share?
I love doing yoga and reading books. You can often catch me with my nose in a book on the subway! Otherwise I like to spend time with my dog, exploring New York, and hanging out with my friends and boyfriend.


Ryan Colet

Ryan is a London native who traveled across the pond and has been living in New York for 5 years. He currently lives in Williamsburg and works in Soho. Ryan works in the account department of The&Partnership. This will be Ryan’s second full marathon – and the first time running New York. He ran the London marathon seven years ago and has since ran about a dozen half marathons around the world.  

What motivated you to run with Team Literacy Partners? Do you love to read? Do you have a personal experience connected to literacy?
I’ve been involved with Literacy Partners for five years through my agency running their pro-bono account – we design the Lit Gala each year and do work that helps build brand awareness. As an avid reader, their cause immediately struck a chord with me – and since meeting students, teachers, and seeing the incredible work they do, I’ve become personally invested too. It’s an honor to run and raise money for such an important cause. 

What do you find to be the most rewarding part about running for a charity organization?
Training for a full marathon takes a ton of time and energy, so it’s nice to think that investment is helping a good cause as well as achieving a personal life goal. It also helps motivate me not to hit snooze when my alarm goes off at 6am!

How are you preparing for this marathon?
I have a training plan created by a good friend who is an excellent runner and also a certified running coach (his name is Alexander Stolerman, if you’d like to also get a plan). I run with him a lot in Williamsburg.

I’ll be running about 4-5 times a week to get prepared. Getting weekday runs over with in the mornings is key, and then finding time for long runs over the weekend. Mentally, it’s all about the crowd on the day – they’ll help me get through it. 

What is your main goal on race day?
I’d love to beat my previous time and run in under 3 hours 30.

What’s your favorite motivational song for running?
I generally listen to podcasts rather than music when I run. But I sometimes switch on ‘Sorry I Am Late (The Blaze Remix)’ by Kollektiv Turmstrasse if I need an energy boost.

When you are not running, what other activities do you enjoy? Anything else you would like to share?
In a city as varied as NYC, it’s hard to pinpoint just a few activities. But I enjoy hiking upstate, exploring art galleries, eating and drinking well, and listening to house music through Brooklyn’s many incredible sound systems. I also send out a weekly newsletter of creative inspiration called ‘Link Me Up Scotty’ every Friday, to an ever growing mailing list of curious individuals. You can subscribe here! https://mailchi.mp/a4b6a3425477/linkmeupscotty


Beatriz Fonseca

Beatriz is a native New Yorker who currently resides in the East Village. She works in the Marketing Production group at Penguin Random House. Her team works with outside vendors to put into production all the fun promo items and displays that help promote our books. This is Beatriz’s first marathon and she told us that it is “a bit frightening.”

What motivated you to run with Team Literacy Partners? Do you love to read? Do you have a personal experience connected to literacy
I grew up a bookworm and can’t imagine a life where that wasn’t a huge part of my life. All the books I’ve read and continue to read have contributed to my never-ending imagination and curiosity of the world around me. To me that is priceless and I hope to share that with others in any way I can. When I found out about Team Literacy Partners and its mission, it was a no-brainer to join this team! 

What do you find to be the most rewarding part about running for a charity organization?
There is a greater impact beyond my own personal goals. 

How are you preparing for this marathon?
Physically, I’m an active person in general. Aside from running in the park, I walk 5-6 miles to and from work several times a week. I take strength conditioning classes at SurfSet and do weight training at the gym. But most importantly, I surround myself with a great support system and friends, like my running buddy Grace, that will help keep me accountable. We cheer each other on. 

What is your main goal on race day?
To make sure I put one foot in front of the other and reach the finish line with a happy heart and tears of joy. Or maybe it will be tears from the sweat dripping in my eyes, but happy nonetheless. 

What’s your favorite motivational song for running?
That’s a tough one. I enjoy so many genres. Guess it all depends on my mood at the moment.

When you are not running, what other activities do you enjoy? Anything else you would like to share?
Yoga, weight training, learning to surf, taking long walks, binge watching shows, reading under a shaded tree, and eating unhealthy amounts of cheese are just a few things I enjoy. In the winter, you’ll find me on the slopes snowboarding or hiding underneath my blanket to stay warm.  


Alex George

Alex lives in Columbia, Missouri. He is a novelist and has published 6 books – his next one is coming out from Macmillan next May. Alex owns an independent bookshop called Skylark Bookshop in downtown Columbia, and he is the founder and director of the Unbound Book Festival, which brings authors and poets from across the States to mid-Missouri every April. Last year, the book festival had more than 9,500 attendees. Alex is also an attorney. This will his third marathon; Alex ran the St. Louis marathon a few years ago and the NYC Marathon in 2017.

What motivated you to run with Team Literacy Partners? Do you love to read? Do you have a personal experience connected to literacy?
My life is in books. I firmly believe that books are for everyone and that anything that can be done to support literacy is fantastically important.

What do you find to be the most rewarding part about running for a charity organization?
It’s such a wonderful opportunity to fulfill one’s own goals while also being able to help out a cause that you feel passionately about. A total win-win.

How are you preparing for this marathon?
My training is well under way (ran 14 miles yesterday!) although I have not yet committed a formal training plan to paper, much to my wife’s consternation. I’m currently running about 40 miles a week. The last time I ran a marathon my training was severely disrupted by various unpleasant attacks of gout (!) and consequently, my final time was not great – although I was thrilled to be running at all. It was touch and go until just a few days before the race.

What is your main goal on race day?
To finish, of course. If I could break four hours I would be over the moon, but that seems like a very optimistic goal from here.

What’s your favorite motivational song for running?
I don’t really have just one – there are various Spotify playlists on my phone which I rely on. Although, I also often listen to audiobooks when I run.

When you are not running, what other activities do you enjoy? Anything else you would like to share?
Well, I read a lot, unsurprisingly, and I love to cook. Otherwise, I’m kept pretty busy with four jobs – and four children. 


Grace Hernandez

Grace was born and raised in Queens, NY. After living in Yonkers for 6 years she decided to move back to Queens in February 2019. Grace is a Production Manager at Penguin Random House and works in the reprints department. She has been working in publishing for 13 years. Grace is also a Yoga and Meditation instructor and has taught all over the NYC/Westchester area over the last 8 years. Grace has a very energetic and adorable 1-year-old daughter who lifts her spirits every single day! This is Grace’s first marathon!

What motivated you to run with Team Literacy Partners? Do you love to read? Do you have a personal experience connected to literacy?
I started running again in March after a few years off, which inspired me to look into the possibility of running the NYC Marathon this year. It wasn’t until a very good friend/co-worker/running partner mentioned that she was thinking of running it too that I really started thinking of signing up. The sign for the Literacy Partners team stared me in the face every day and we both decided, this is the year! What better way to keep our running moving along, get healthier, get dedicated, and challenge ourselves than to run this year’s marathon, all while raising money for a cause that is near to our hearts. We are excited. I personally feel like this is motivating me to go outside the box and reach many goals that I’ve always been afraid of! 

I was read to growing up as a young child and I now read to my daughter as much as I can. I believe the love and dedication I received in my childhood through reading with my family has influenced me in so many positive ways and will get passed onto my daughter. I hope to make that possible for as many families as possible through this fundraiser. 

What do you find to be the most rewarding part about running for a charity organization?
Knowing that the efforts of both raising the money, and the physical act of running will all go towards a helpful and much needed cause. 

How are you preparing for this marathon?
I have an advanced week to week chart that I follow and run with a group 1-2 times per week at Central Park. I do my longer runs by myself on the weekends in the early morning. I am also incorporating yoga and meditation, resting when needed, and doing my best to watch what I eat! 

What is your main goal on race day?
To cross the finish line no matter how long it takes, happily and healthfully with no injuries.

What’s your favorite motivational song for running?
Truth Hurts – Lizzo (for now!) 

When you are not running, what other activities do you enjoy? Anything else you would like to share?
I make the most of the time with my daughter. We go to play gyms, museums, and any other activities where she can socialize with other children. She even comes to yoga sometimes! I love to catch up with my friends, take walks and go to the movies, concerts and/or shows when I have time to myself – which is very rare, but I do try to give myself some self-care! 


Katie Parker

Katie lives in Fairfield, CT. She is a freelance writer, editor, and PM, working primarily on textbooks for K-12, and nonfiction books for the school and library market. This is Katie’s 4th marathon, but it feels like starting from scratch since her last marathon was a few years ago.

What motivated you to run with Team Literacy Partners? Do you love to read? Do you have a personal experience connected to literacy?
In college, I became certified as a Literacy Volunteer of America. I tutored illiterate adults from underprivileged neighborhoods and really learned a lot. I also wanted to do something to make immigrants feel welcome here, right about now! And I adore the mission of giving books to parents to share with their kids. SO important. 

What do you find to be the most rewarding part about running for a charity organization?
Giving other people a chance to feel empowered by donating. 

How are you preparing for this marathon?
By the seat of my pants. I have three kids – 6, 7 and 9 – and we are having a broke 1970’s summer in which they are home all the time, and I work crazy hours so really it’s run when I can. The other night I ran on our super old treadmill at 10:30. My good friend’s husband is starting his business as a running coach, so I have the extra incentive of not disappointing him or our donors. 

What is your main goal on race day?
Real goal: under 4 hours. Secret, unattainable goal: 3:45. 

What’s your favorite motivational song for running?
Lately into The Blaze, and Grimes, and Kanye’s “Fade,” and “Under Pressure,'” by David Bowie/Queen. Would love to share playlists! 

When you are not running, what other activities do you enjoy? Anything else you would like to share?
These days, a trip to Target alone is a fun activity. Ha! I like reading, writing for fun, art projects with the kiddos, and all things animal-related. I’m excited to join the team!

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