Cathy Bennett

Swimming

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Belarus

Cathy Bennett has maintained a longstanding relationship with Phelps Family. She taught Michael Phelps how to swim and now acts as Director of Programming at the Michael Phelps Foundation and Director of Michael Phelps Swimming. In 1994, Cathy helped found the North Baltimore Swim School, which eventually transformed into the Michael Phelps Swimming in 2009. In 2003, Cathy was a featured speaker at the American Swimming Coaches Association World Clinic, and, in 2006, Cathy was recognized at the British Swimming Coaches and Teaching Association Conference. Cathy holds a master’s degree from Towson University in Early Childhood Education. She served as an educator in the school system before becoming a full-time swimming instructor. She also sits on multiple community boards.

Marissa Fortier

Marissa Fortier

Swimming

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Belarus

Marissa Fortier is the Managing Director at the Michael Phelps Foundation and has been working alongside Michael Phelps since 2003. She has been with the Foundation since it was founded in 2008 and helped developed the Foundation’s signature IM Program curriculum in 2009 and piloted the program in 2010. Marissa lives in Maine with her husband, two daughters, and a dog.

Dian Christensen

Dian Christensen

Swimming

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Belarus

Dian Christensen Hillis will be instrumental in expanding the im program in the United States through our partnership with Special Olympics. Dian has been instructing and coaching aquatics for Special Olympics for over 20 years. She started a local program to provide a Special Olympics sports opportunity for her daughter. The competitive program started with eight athletes and has grown to over 35 swimmers who train year-round. Her Learn-To-Swim program has reached nearly 175 athletes. In 2006, 2010, and 2014, Dian served as the Nebraska Head Aquatics Coach for the Special Olympics National Games. She was named the Assistant Coach for the 2007 Special Olympic World Games and Head Coach for the 2011 and 2015 Special Olympics World Games. Dian has been successfully using the im Program since 2010 not only with her local program athletes but also with athletes she is training and coaching for the national and world stages.

Sarah Berardo

Sarah Berardo

Running

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Fiji

Sarah grew up participating in various youth sports- those experiences shaped her love of athleticism and were an underlying thread throughout her life and early career. She capitalized on her athletic career to study at Ursinus College while playing softball and working in the Sports Medicine Clinic as the Head Athletic Training Aide. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Health and Exercise Physiology and concentrations in Coaching and Wellness education, she pursued her passion of youth development as a Student Success Coach in Memphis, Tennessee with the AmeriCorps organization – City Year Memphis.

In Memphis, she worked in a 7th grade math classroom providing academic, attendance and social-emotional learning support through a Positive Youth Development lens. She also led the Afterschool program focused on additional academic support and diverse enrichment activities. During her time with City Year Memphis, she also coached the school’s first softball team in 10 years. After her service year, Sarah joined Peace Corps Ukraine as a Community Youth Development Volunteer.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, Sarah worked with a local youth sports NGO coaching soccer trainings and tournaments in local underserved communities and at a local school for youth with mental disabilities. She also facilitated Adult English clubs focused on Emotional Intelligence and Youth Clubs focused on Youth Empowerment and Community Involvement. These experiences in Sport-based Youth Development and Positive Youth Development helped form the base of her “Whole Child” youth development approach she now utilizes in Washington, DC.

Currently, Sarah is the Associate Program Manager at Teens Run DC. Teens Run DC is a community organization focused on empowering youth to envision and work towards the achievement of personal goals through distance running, mentoring and social emotional learning programs in underserved areas of Washington, DC. Sarah manages the coaches in the partnered schools as they provide lunch time programs, after school run clubs and Saturday community wide programing.
When Youth Sports are combined with Positive Youth Development, the affect on the youth involved is exponential and life altering. Programs such as Teens Run DC help provide youth with the social support they need to continue on a positive life path and strive for the fulfilling future at the height of their potential.

Charlie Coiner

American Football

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Brazil

Charlie Coiner is a former NFL and NCAA football coach of 30 years and current founder and CEO of FirstDown PlayBook. FirstDown PlayBook is a football playbook software company created for football coaches. The mission is to help coaches at all levels spend more time
developing football players and less time consumed with designing plays. FirstDown PlayBook accomplishes this by providing coaches with over 35,000 editable football plays in a digital format.

Certainly, nine years in the NFL and another 20 in the NCAA doesn’t happen by accident. A career like this happens when a coach knows how to develop talent—and knows how to win. In 1983, with no coaching experience, Waynesboro, Virginia native Charlie Coiner had big dreams and made a bold move by approaching a new, now national, coaching figure. His timing was perfect.

In 1983, Charlie Coiner served as a graduate assistant at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Mack Brown, now Head Coach at the University of North Carolina, had just begun his first head-coaching job. Coiner recalls, “I wanted to get into coaching, but I had
little to no experience. So, I walked into Coach Brown’s office and asked if I could coach. He told me he couldn’t pay me, and I kind of thought that was a fair deal since I didn’t know very much.”
Coiner stayed for five years—and proved his worth.

Thereafter, Coiner rode the coaching carousel. After Appalachian, Coiner worked on offense, defense, recruiting, and special teams for Minnesota, Austin Peay, Vanderbilt, Texas Southern, Louisville, UT Chattanooga, LSU, Tennessee, North Carolina and again at Texas Southern.

Coiner coached for the NFL’s Chicago Bears under Dick Jauron (QB’s &QC 2001-2003) and was then retained by new coach Lovie Smith to assist with the special teams (2004-2005). He then moved on to coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2006 (Tight Ends, 2006-09). During this tenure
with the Bills, he helped lead a young group of tight ends to career numbers while they also contributed as blockers for a rushing attack that ranked fifth in the AFC.As the 2010 New Year rolled in, the Bills dismissed their entire coaching staff. After only a short time without a gig, and given an unexpected vacancy, North Carolina coach Butch Davis grabbed Coiner as an assistant coach for defense. “Coiner’s smart. He’s got good communication skills. He’s a good teacher,” Coach Davis says.

In 2011, Coiner moved to Austin, Texas, and took a break from coaching. He then began using the unusual time he had away from the game, as Coiner says, “to become a better coach.”

Coiner began digitally converting dozens of playbooks in order to find plays more quickly once he returned to coaching. “When friends looked at all the football plays I had drawn up from the NFL and colleges, they
said, ‘You’ve got an app there’.” Today, FirstDown PlayBook™ focuses on helping coaches find plays with speed and efficiency as well as allows coaches to draw their own plays using the best football drawing tool in the world.

“I’m excited about this football product. We’re giving a coach a chance to do something that’s never been done before—save time by finding football plays, defenses and special teams schemes in mere seconds.
Time is not a coach’s friend. With FirstDown PlayBook, coaches can quickly search for and edit plays that give them a competitive edge in the next game while still fitting the plays within their football philosophy. Coaches will appreciate how quickly they can find plays and schemes and organize that information so that they can spend more time actually coaching.”