2021-2022 BTC Board Elections

It’s that time of year again when we begin consideration and voting for the open board member slots of the Buffalo Triathlon Club.  Bios are published here on the blog and online voting begins in November. Announcements of the winners will come as voting completes and new or reelected board members will be installed at our club banquet in January.

How Many People Are on the Board and How Many Slots are Available?

The BTC board consists of 11 members, and each term is 2 years, with half of the terms expiring each year.  The following 6 board members have 1 year remaining on their terms, and will continue to serve on the board for 2021:

  • Mike Belus
  • Amy Bryan
  • David Federspiel
  • Brad Hilimon (current Vice-President)
  • Denise Salmons
  • Ethan Sasiela

The terms of the following 5 board members are expiring, and they will need to run for re-election if they want to continue to serve on the board for 2021-2022:

  • Alisha Gannon (current Secretary)
  • Lynzee Ralph
  • Mark Sommers (current President)
  • Renee Sossong-Brady
  • Kelly Voigt (current Treasurer)

Who has currently been nominated or chosen to Run for a 2021-2022 Board Seat:

Click on each candidate name to see their bio and information:

More information on Board Member Duties and Activities

Board members meet once per month for approximately 2 hours, usually over dinner at a local restaurant, and keep in touch via email and in-person to manage the overall direction and administration of the BTC.  Tasks that are overseen by the board include such things as weekly club workouts (swims & bricks), club events (Spring Thing, Ontario Scenario, etc), organization of the annual banquet and other social get-togethers, processing memberships, newsletter & blog, apparel orders, negotiating sponsorship and partnership agreements that include discounts for BTC members, accounting and budget management, BTC asset management (tent, bike boxes, safety equipment, etc), administration of the web site and Facebook page, and more!

Candidate Bio: Christine Belus

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

I would like to see more events, interaction and opportunities for people who are new to the sport and new to the club. This could be anything from arranging “mentors” through a casual meetup, who could then be a person you meet at a larger event, to holding different types of clinics and workout opportunities for new members. This could help people feel less intimidated by both the sport of triathlon/duathlon, and by the thought of meeting a whole group of new people.

2) What areas of responsibility are you interested in helping out with during your term on the board?

I would be interested in helping the club gets its name out in the community, either through growing membership, marketing, or through opportunities to give back to other community organizations. I would also be interested in helping to organize some club events.

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

I have volunteered at club swims and attended many of the annual events. I also attended the Sunday swims at Buff State pre-COVID, I’ve attended some Northtowns bricks and managed to get out for a couple of Sunday swims at Porter-on-the-Lake this summer.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization.

I have served on a number of boards and committees, most recently with the WNY Veterans Housing Coalition. I am a former member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of WNY marketing committee and a founding member of its Young Professionals Committee, and a former leadership member for the Team RWB Buffalo Chapter. I am also the former co-race director for the Tunnel to Towers Buffalo 5K, where I worked with my co-director to bring the event to Buffalo for the 15th anniversary of the attacks on 9.11.01, and built it into WNY’s largest September 11 remembrance event.

5) Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I am a proud Athena duathlete, who completed her first (virtual) triathlon this summer (thanks COVID). I feel like all I do is paddle around like a drunken squirrel, and I only use clips during a race, but I get it done. My husband, Mike, didn’t get me into multisport, but it’s made it that much more enjoyable having a fellow athlete in the house. I’m also a fur mom to four dopey and lovable little nuggets. By day, I am an event planner and marketing professional. When not at work, lately, I’m just trying to prevent the next injury with some yoga and strength training. This sport, for all its spandex and craziness is actually pretty cool, and I hope to be able to show others how cool it is as a member of the BTC board.

Candidate Bio: Melanie Buczkowski

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

We have a strong core group that makes this club and all it has to offer possible. I’d love to see this group grow with many more active members joining in, speaking up and taking action. With so many possibilities, input and help from members is needed to ensure offerings align with the interests, experience levels or geographical locations. 

I have found this club to be very welcoming, friendly and supportive. We all contribute to this and it is a quality we need to keep going strong. 

2) What areas of responsibility will you volunteer for during your term on the board?

I am interested in focusing on either growing the clubs active membership and maintaining associated records, or supporting communications, keeping members informed and up to date on current and future events, plans, races and opportunities.

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

As a member who attends many club sponsored activities, I believe it is only fair that I do my fair share. This past season, I had the opportunity to meet new and seasoned members while volunteering at the Lake Ontario Sunday morning swims on a number of occasions. I have enjoyed every minute of it.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization.

Does having kids count for experience with group leadership? Surely it must as it can be most challenging =). On a more serious note, due to my career choices (Program and Process Management), I have had plenty of opportunities to organize projects and events. Planning/organizing is my kind of thing.

5) Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I am not a fast runner or swimmer nor would I win on the bike, but I love the sport and the people in it. I do it for fun, to stay active, healthy, challenge myself and with any luck do better than I did last time. This club has provided me with many opportunities to practice, get advice and coaching and meet some pretty cool people. I’d like to give back but volunteering as a board member.

Candidate Bio: Alisha Gannon

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

The BTC has many opportunities for workouts and has some great events that members can come and get to know each other. However, I understand that being a new member going to events that everyone knows each other can be a little intimating. I would like to see more opportunities for new members to get more comfortable and not fall through the cracks. I would also like to have a few more events that are just get together were we are able to get to know each other. Lastly I would love to have a longer group ride for those training for Ironman. We do have a 100 mile ride at the spring thing. Something a little later in the year that would fit in to ironman training would be a lot of fun and help that 100 mile ride pass a little faster.

2) What areas of responsibility will you volunteer for during your term on the board?

I would like to help organize some of the events, and social gatherings. I hope to get some other members to volunteer at various events this year. The more non-board members that we get to be involved, the more events the BTC can offer. This also gives everyone the opportunity to get to know some new people, maybe find a new training partner, or even a new friend.

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

I have been a board member for the past 4 years, and secretary for the past two. During this time I have helped to organize some of our group events, done our photo of the month, organized some apparel orders, and been the election coordinator.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization?

In addition to the past 4 years I have spent on the board. Before that I was in another club The Western NY Herpetological Society which I spend 1 year on the board 2 as the Vice president, and 6 years as president. During this time I rotated through almost every task that goes into running a club. I organized big events such as a reptile show and sale, coordinated educational demos and outreach programs. As well as deal with the inventory, and financial aspects of the club. At work I have developed some educational programs to help patients deal different medical issues.

5) Anything else you like to tell us about yourself?

I started out not being able to run more that 5 minutes at a time and I eventually got to the point where I was able to do an Ironman (4 of them). I found that this truly is a passion of mine and I enjoy helping others in their journey.

Candidate Bio: Wendy Kimpel

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

I would love to see more organized rides or runs on the weekends that start early like 7am. This will provide an opportunity for members with busy weekends to connect and get some training in together.  I really enjoy the larger monthly events and would like to see them continue.

2) What areas of responsibility will you volunteer for during your term on the board?

Looking at the different facets that make up the board, I believe I would be a good fit for Communications and Event Planning teams.  Given that I’m not afraid to think outside the box or try new things, and welcome working as part of a larger team I can see myself making an impact with new ideas, and promotion of current events. I am also thinking about different ways to utilize platforms to help us connect.  One idea I have is that now that the weather is turning and we are going inside on trainers,  is exploring the ability to create movie watch parties or zwift parties etc….. 

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

As a current member I am proud to wear our kits when participating in an event, even when heading out to train most often I am  wearing something BTC related.  When I am not out on a course I love to join in to support other members of the BTC as they are competing.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization.

To start I am a full time mom, full time Director of a school counseling department, Owner of my own successful business College Planning A to Z, and a former District Manager for an independent health and wellness company.  In my daily world, I can get the kids ready for school, myself to work on time, and oversee the daily operations of our department, triage crisis situations, respond to emails and phone calls, meet with students, consult with administration, plan for future college events, send school wide college related communications via platforms, monitor trends in the market of college admissions, attend continuing education opportunities.  I have taken my love of college admissions to plan and open a successful college admissions business.  Relying on my tenacity, initiative, and drive I have promoted my business and secured clients every year for the past 7 years to well exceed my overhead costs of operating. I have experience presenting to large groups, coordinating and securing a venue, a/v equipment, and promoting the event.  As a former district manager for a health and wellness company  I relied on my skill sets to deliver messaging related to our products, hosted events, and secured team members to help grow my business.  Equally as important is that I know my limits and have recently stepped aside from this opportunity to allow more time for my family and personal interests. (#LakePlacid2021)

5) Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

To summarize, it would be an honor to serve you as a member of the BTC board.  I believe I have the abilities to make an impact and the energy to get people excited about what the BTC has to offer!

Candidate Bio: Tom Piwtorak

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

We are doing a great job with COVID safety protocols and we need to see this continue strong into 2021. I believe for our club, our area, our state, and nationwide, the more strict we are with these, the more events we can hold and enjoy. I enjoy the “practice Tris” the club hosts, such as Ontario Scenario. I would like to gauge interest and possibly hold a club-sponsored “Paddle, Bike, Run” event, with participants using any self-powered watercraft (kayak, paddle-board, etc) for the first leg of the race.

2) What areas of responsibility will you volunteer for during your term on the board?

I would like to help organize group/club Tri races or 3-sport brick workouts and volunteer at Porter on the lake open water swim practices.

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

2019 was my first year in the sport and 2020 was my first year in the club. I participated in the Buffalo Paddle Bike Run in 2019 as my first ever event. As the pandemic swept the nation in 2020, like many other events, the Paddle Bike Run was cancelled. I was so disappointed that I hosted one myself in my neighborhood! 8 of us BTC members participated, and it was a blast.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization.

I am a member of the University at Buffalo (UB) Young Alumni Leadership Council (YALC) and am on a sub-committee of the UB Engineering Alumni Association (UBEAA). I am also currently on the Tonawanda Community Environmental Benefits Program (TCEBP) Advisory Board, a board of local community members responsible for guiding NYS in distributing over $1 million in funds for local projects that will address environmental and health priorities. In the 2019-2020 Cub Scouts year, in my second year as an adult leader in my kids Scout pack, I was Pack Committee Chairperson, perhaps the most important leadership position besides Cubmaster.  

5) Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

My first ever “sanctioned” triathlon was the Olympic length of the Findley Lake Triathlon in 2020. I was NOT prepared for those hills! I look forward to continuing my training in 2021 and hitting some of the Southtown hills and doing more open water swimming. I swim about as good as a brick floats! 

Candidate Bio: Lynzee Ralph

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

I would love to see more member volunteers, whether it is to help organize/set up an event or help run things on event day.  I believe through volunteering it gives the opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes and provides a new appreciation for the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to plan and put on an event. 

2) What areas of responsibility will you volunteer for during your term on the board?

I would love to continue with Lake Erie swims, it’s been a great pleasure to see everyone come out and enjoy themselves.  I have volunteered for many club events held in the past and love to see members come out and have a great experience.  Recently, I volunteered to take on coordinating club sponsors to ensure we are reaching out to establish and reestablish sponsorship with many organizations/businesses/clubs that club members utilize.  As a club, I hope we can provide continued support to the many local sponsors that provide us with many great services and discounts.   

While this year had quite a bit of down time without races, a few of us on the board have spent countless hours looking at things members would like to see.  Members are always asking for more swag or different items.  We are certainly excited to announce our upcoming online apparel store!  I look forward to continuing to work on this project and seeing members in awesome new items.

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

I have volunteered at many club events over the past few years and the last two years have coordinated Lake Erie swims on Wednesday evenings.  Although we are unable to plan a banquet to celebrate our members this year, it was a lot of fun to plan our last banquet and hope to be able to plan many social gatherings for members in the upcoming year.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization.

Planning our last banquet with the help of several other board members was enjoyable but had its stressful moments.  Working as a team, we were able to accomplish the big and small tasks to ensure organization of an enjoyable event for all in attendance.  Sometimes one has to step up and delegate tasks to others to ensure things get done. 

This year was certainly a challenging year to plan events, but with the cooperation of board and members we were able to have some small events.  To comply with pandemic restrictions, we as a board had to come together to create club guidelines to ensure the safety of those volunteering and our members participating.  These guidelines were mandatory to obtaining our Lake Erie swim permit.

5) Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

It has been a great experience serving on the BTC board the last two years.  I certainly would love to continue to help provide our members with continued training opportunities and support to encourage great success.

I became a BTC member in late 2015, after talking with a friend from college who said she was going to race Ironman Ohio 70.3(2016).  I knew very little about that sport at that time but was just bored with running.  As some of you know, I’m always ready for a new adventure!  And an adventure of a lifetime it has been.  Since then I have done some shorter races and most recent, was IMLP(2019).  I certainly look forward to getting back on a race course in 2021, with many of you to join me!

Since joining the club, I knew this was a great place to be.  It has been amazing to meet so many highly motivated, encouraging, supportive and adventurous friends, who have become like family.  Everyone always provides kind words of support and encouragement, making those new to the sport and club feel incredibly welcome! 

Candidate Bio: Kelly Voigt

1) What would you like to see change or continue strong for the BTC in 2021?

I encourage to keep offering the “race-like” training opportunities .  By attending the open water swims, time trials, and bricks my performance and my comfort level in triathlons is improving and it all provides me with motivation and courage to take on new goals each season.

I would like to see more member recognition and more member socializing opportunities.  Though we unite as a club for benefits, it is truly the friendships that bring us back year after year.  By recognizing and appreciating all member accomplishments, the big as well as the small ones, we can rebuild the “family like” culture once again.

2) What areas of responsibility will you volunteer for during your term on the board?

As a current board member, I would like to focus my time and energy working in planning club events, supporting the Sponsorship committee and offering my accounting experience to the club.

I have a strong passion for organizing and planning in all aspects of my life.  Organizing events can come with stress and difficult last minute decisions, but there is nothing more rewarding than the end results of seeing members enjoying themselves, connecting with one another, and sharing in the experiences that the BTC provides.

3) How have you contributed to the club in the last two years (2019-2020)?

Serving on the board for my first term for 2019-2020, I experienced firsthand that volunteerism is strongly connected to the success of events that the BTC holds.  I focused on planning and organizing the 2019 year end banquet at the new event location at Tewksbury.  In 2020, I offered my time to be co-brick master at the Northtown brick and Co-coordinator for the 2020 Ontario Scenario.  If I have the privilege to serve a second term, I plan to work on ensuring that better and more thorough communication to members occurs in order to keep members engaged and as active within the club as possible.  In addition, I wish to plan and organize club sponsored events so that members receive a great value from their annual membership.

4) Share your experience with group leadership and organization.

A single mother of two adopted children and  the Controller of my company for over 10 years has been the extent of my leadership but they have been the catalyst to my passion for planning and organizing.  I find that my extended skills of organizing leads to a high level of productivity that allows me to accomplish all that I have and plan to do in life.

5) Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I have truly enjoyed engaging the club members with my social media posts over the past few months and encouraging everyone to engage with me along the way.  I hope to continue this new level of member communication into 2021.

2020-2021 BTC Board Elections

It’s that time of year again when we begin consideration and voting for the open board member slots of the Buffalo Triathlon Club.  Bios are published here on the blog and online voting begins in November. Announcements of the winners will come as voting completes and new or reelected board members will be installed at our club banquet in January.

How Many People Are on the Board and How Many Slots are Available?

The BTC board consists of 11 members, and each term is 2 years, with half of the terms expiring each year.  The following 5 board members have 1 year remaining on their terms, and will continue to serve on the board for 2020:

  • Mark Sommers (current President)
  • Alisha Gannon (current Secretary)
  • Renee Sossong-Brady
  • Lynzee Ralph
  • Kelly Voigt

The terms of the following 6 board members are expiring, and they will need to run for re-election if they want to continue to serve on the board for 2020-2021:

  • Denise Salmons (current Vice President)
  • Karla Sommers (current Treasurer)
  • Amy Benedict
  • David Federspiel
  • Brad Hilimon
  • Helga Ivanova

Who has currently been nominated or chosen to Run for a 2019/2020 Board Seat:

Click on each candidate name to see their bio and information:

More information on Board Member Duties and Activities

Board members meet once per month (for approximately 2 hours, usually over dinner at a local restaurant), and keep in touch via email and in-person to manage the overall direction and administration of the BTC.  Tasks that are overseen by the board include such things as weekly club workouts (swims & bricks), club events (Spring Thing, Ontario Scenario, etc), organization of the annual banquet and other social get-togethers, processing memberships, newsletter & blog, apparel orders, negotiating sponsorship and partnership agreements that include discounts for BTC members, accounting and budget management, BTC asset management (tent, bike boxes, safety equipment, etc), administration of the web site and Facebook page, BTC library management, and more!

Candidate Bio: Mike Belus

Mike.jpgWhen I became a member of BTC in 2011, I quickly came to enjoy the camaraderie the club and the sport have offered me. While there are still so many of you that I’ve never met, it’s possible I’ve called out your name as the race announcer at many Score This!!! triathlons.

The organized bricks and other workouts are just what an introvert like myself needed to connect with many members. I came for the training sessions, but I never expected to make so many friends. Thanks, in part, to BTC helping to push my training to the next level, I have successfully competed in 25 short-course triathlons, often getting on the podium for my age group. In fact, I was thrilled to place second overall at this year’s inaugural Silver Serpent!

I believe having opportunities to participate in the club, no matter your experience or goals is critical to the success of the club. I’d love the opportunity to help new members and beginner athletes feel comfortable in the club and with the sport. I’d also like to help organize some additional off-season workouts or How-To clinics for members of all abilities.

The BTC family is a part of our family – my wife, Christine, is a member and duathlete. Our pups, Gus and Oliver often run with us, and Gus takes his cheer squad duties very seriously at races.

I’m honored to be nominated for a position on the board and appreciate your vote!