Believing and Supporting Under-served Youth
Founder and Executive Director
Ana Reyes was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the South Bronx and is a product of New York City public schools. Ana is responsible for all operational and programmatic aspects of forming and growing this dynamic organization. Prior to starting I Challenge Myself she was involved in the largest reform of New York City secondary schools through her work at New Visions for Public Schools, New Century High Schools Initiative. This initiative has resulted in the creation of over 80 small quality public high schools that have replaced the most under-performing comprehensive high schools in New York City. Ana participated in PASE’s Emerging Leaders program and CRE’s Leadership Caucus. She holds a B.A. in English from George Mason University and an M.A. in Secondary Education from George Washington University. She has taught English and Spanish at four public high schools in Washington D.C., Spanish at a Jesuit high school in East Harlem and English Communications classes and college Business English classes at a private school in Culiacan, Mexico.
Roger Schwed was born, raised and still lives in, New York City on the Upper West Side. He is the former Executive Vice President and General Counsel of United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI), the largest equipment rental company in the world, with approximately 600 locations in North America and 7,000 employees. Prior to United Rentals, Roger was for nine years the General Counsel of Maxcor Financial Group Inc. (Nasdaq: MAXF), an international financial services company whose principal business line was inter-dealer brokerage conducted through its various Euro Brokers affiliates in New York, London and Tokyo. Prior to Maxcor, Roger was M&A Counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in New York and an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Roger graduated from Columbia University Law School, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and a Kent Scholar. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the New York Foundation. Roger has had a lifelong love affair with cycling, and has regularly commuted to work by bicycling and participated in “centuries” and other bike rides. He is also a pretty decent bike mechanic. In addition, he works regularly with children in his capacity as a head coach for many years of his two sons’ various teams in West Side Little League, Safe Haven Basketball and West Side Soccer.
Maud Abeel is the deputy director of technical assistance for national postsecondary success initiatives at FHI 360 (formerly AED)—the Citi Postsecondary Success Program funded by the Citi Foundation and recently KnowHow2Go, funded by the Lumina Foundation. She is also a senior program officer with Middle Start, FHI’s nationally recognized program dedicated to ensuring academic success and healthy development for every middle-grades student. She has written and spoken to national and local audiences about strategies for connecting outcomes in the middle and high school grades to postsecondary access and success. Previously she was at New Visions for Public Schools, NYC’s local education fund, where she was director of the College Bound program, which provides support to small secondary schools for developing high quality postsecondary access and success programs in collaboration with strategic partners within and outside the school community. Maud also worked at Carnegie Corporation of New York where she provided technical and research assistance to national grant initiatives. Her work there on the Middle Grades State School Policy Initiative led to her becoming a contributing author, researcher, and editor to Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century, a follow-up book to Carnegie’s landmark middle-grades report, Turning Points. Maud has a Masters degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in art history from Oberlin College. She taught fourth grade in Baltimore, MD through Teach For America and was a residential counselor to parenting teenagers in Portland, OR.
Matthew Bruckner was born & raised in the suburbs of New York City and currently resides with his wife in Brooklyn. He is currently a research professor in bankruptcy studies at St. John’s University School of Law, where he teaches bankruptcy, administrative law and case analysis. Matthew previously worked as a law clerk to the Hon. Allan L. Gropper in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Matthew was also an associate at the law firm of Allen & Overy LLP. He holds a J.D. from NYU and a B.A. from Binghamton University. He is very interested in transportation and transit issues, and currently serves on the Transportation Committee of the NYC Bar Association. Matthew has run several half marathons, completed multiple “century” rides and is often found training in Prospect Park. He is also a bicycle commuter and a transit advocate.
Adam Francis was born & raised in Wales, United Kingdom and currently resides with his wife in Manhattan. He is currently a senior manager at American Express (NYSE:AXP), working on their global analytics and consulting organization known as American Express Business Insights. Adam joined American Express in 2003 through their IT graduate scheme in the UK and over the past 8 years has worked on various IT related roles – ranging from mainframe programming through to project management of system implementations. Adam holds an MSc in IT for E-commerce from Sussex University and a BSc in Computer Science from Swansea University. Adam moved to New York in March 2010 and quickly settled as a frequent runner in New York Road Runner races and is on track to compete in over 9 races this year in order race New York Marathon in 2012. In addition to fitness, Adam is also passionate about latest Technology trends, which aside from reading TechCrunch.com on a daily basis, typically involves having a IT project of some kind as a hobby.
Lukasz Strycharz was born and raised in Poland and currently resides in New Jersey. He is an associate at Credit Suisse currently working in foreign exchange. Lukasz holds a MPA degree from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and BS in Finance from Seton Hall University. In his free time you can find him either swimming, cycling or running. In addition to his interest in endurance sports, Lukasz enjoys formula one racing and globetrotting.
Honorary Board Member
Nelson Vails. As a teenager, Nelson trained with the Century Cycling Association, a local cycling club in Manhattan. He fed his competitive spirit on Saturday mornings by participating in races sponsored by the club in Central Park. By the time he reached high school, Nelson had successfully combined his love of cycling with a well-paying job. Working after school and full-time in the summer, he earned recognition as an efficient and reliable bike messenger for New York’s Cycle Service Center. “I did well,” Nelson muses. “I was willing to work even on the rainy days.”
At the same time, Nelson found himself immersed in the fast-paced world of national, and ultimately international, cycling competition. After being invited to participate in a cycling development program in Colorado Springs in 1981, he made the U.S. Cycling Team. He and his teammates were among the first competitive U.S. cyclists to train in the Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War.
In 1983, Nelson won a gold medal at the 1983 Pan American Games. At the Olympic Trials, he placed second to earn a spot on the eight-person 1984 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team. Not expected to “make the podium,” he surprised fans and foes by beating out the favorite and winning the silver medal in the 1000-meter match sprint at the Games in Los Angeles.
Today, Nelson pursues his love of cycling through challenging recreational tours across the country, especially in the West. “My Olympic experience made me a much more disciplined person,” observes Nelson. “In the nearly twenty years since 1984, I have come to appreciate my medal more and more.”