Carlotta James, Project Director / Co-founder
The dream of runners and monarch butterflies on a journey together came to Carlotta while running along forest trails in Peterborough, Ontario in 2016. Since then, Carlotta has been working tirelessly with the Monarch Ultra team to create running events as a call to action towards environmental protection and monarch conservation. She is passionate about running, exploring wild spaces around the world, and connecting with the natural world. Carlotta is a pollinator advocate and eco-landscaper, and co-founder of Peterborough Pollinators and Three Sisters Natural Landscapes, organizations devoted to re-wilding urban spaces. Carlotta lives in Peterborough with her husband and son, who also love running and spending time in nature.
Rodney Fuentes, Co-founder
In January 2018, Carlotta told Rodney about her idea of running with monarchs from Peterborough to Mexico and asked him to record the journey as a documentary film. This project was a love at first sight for Rodney! As a filmmaker based in Peterborough, Rodney started the production of a documentary that covers the runners, the migration, and the communities involve in monarch’s conservation. Following his background in eco-tourism and environmental conservation, Rodney became involved with The Monarch Ultra as a co-founder, content creation, and event’s organization. You can find out more about Rodney’s work and the documentary at www.rodneyfuentes.com.
Jodi McNeill, Race Director
Jodi is a trail runner and Race Director from Orangeville, Ontario. Along with her husband, Norman, they owned and operated Running Free Orangeville (a retail store for runners) from 2011 to 2019. She loves to be surrounded by like-minded people achieving goals they once thought impossible. Always fascinated by the Monarch Butterfly, Jodi became more passionate about the species after watching an episode of The Nature of Things that documented the discovery of their journey from Canada to Mexico. She took part in the first Monarch Ultra in 2019, completing a 50K section in Austin, Texas on her birthday. Jodi and her husband own GottaRunRacing which hosts trail running events in Ontario. Jodi is excited to be a part of the team and to provide support for the runners as they take part in this incredible challenge!
Günther Schubert, Co-director
Günther was raised in rural Bavaria and learned to appreciate nature in his early years. After taking an apprenticeship in cooking in Germany, Günther later came to Canada in 1974 to continue his career as a chef and culinary instructor at Toronto’s George Brown College. In 2019, Günther joined the Monarch Ultra group and travel with the team to Mexico during the first relay run. He was the team’s chef, driver, and support crew. Since then he become an integral part of the team to continue raising awareness about the critical decline of the monarch butterflies and other Pollinators. Günther is a member of the Peterborough Kawartha Rotary Club and he is building strong connections with Rotary Clubs in Canada, the US and Mexico.
Jessica Lister, US Partnerships
Jessica Lister is the co-founder of the Mid-Atlantic Monarch Initiative (MAMI). Jess educates the public about monarch butterflies and collaborates with organizations and landowners to restore monarch butterfly habitat. Jess considers the monarch butterfly her “spirit animal”, representing the hope, change, and endurance that she strives to have in life. In addition to the monarch butterfly, Jess’s other great passion is for trail running and obstacle course racing. As Jess puts it, the Monarch Ultra Project is a “dream come true….it’s very rare in life when your two utmost passions… your two worlds collide”. She couldn’t be more excited to embark on this journey and support this amazing project and go through the “transformation” to become an ultra runner.
Eileen Kimmett, Social Media Whiz
Eileen Kimmett started running in the summer of 2012. She is a Mental Health advocate and openly talks about her mental illnesses. Running has been part of not only her physical health, but also her mental health. It was the news of the Monarch Ultra Relay Run and the concerns the Kimmett's children have on Climate Change and their future that really led to an increase in living a greener lifestyle at home. It led to being part of the incredible Monarch Ultra Relay Run following the migration route of the monarch butterfly to their winter home in Mexico. Eileen hopes to promote and share what she has learned about pollinators and the monarch butterfly through this relay run to many people.
Carl Wright, Writer / Athletic Liaison
Carl Wright grew up on a traditional family farm in Southern Ontario. Learning from his father, Carl learned about the importance of sustainable farming. This was reflected by his dad’s deep loving care and stewardship of the land. When Carl was 15, his father died of a heart attack. The only place he could find strength and comfort was immersing himself in nature. This has resulted in a lifelong love for our natural areas. Carl took up running at 55 after a dire ultimatum from his doctor to get his blood pressure and cholesterol down. At 60, Carl has run many distances including 10 ultras. As a writer, Carl maintains the blog Old Fellow Goes Running.
Holly Chaille, Communications Director
Holly is a writer and Advanced Master Gardener living and providing horticultural therapy in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When she's not digging in the dirt or spoiling her pets she blogs about chasing monarchs and wonderly delights. She joined the Monarch Ultra team as a writer in 2019, blogging the adventure at hollyachaille.blogspot.com.
Mireille Hess, Education Coordinator
Mireille is a monarch enthusiast, elementary teacher, and ultra runner. Mireille has been doing outreach in the community about monarchs since 2008. She has worked to restore and maintain habitat for monarchs in Wisconsin. In 2019, she was the recipient of Natural Habitat Adventures Scholarship Grant and was able to witness the overwintering grounds in the mountains of Mexico. As a distance runner, she heard about the Monarch Ultra and knew she had to be a bigger part of this amazing project. Mireille lives with her family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Jackie Nicholls, Education Liaison
Jackie is a retired educator from the KPR Board and is always looking for ways to use her education skills. She is supporting the Monarch Ultra Team by working as an Education Liaison within the KPR Board. Her hope is to create large group presentations for schools or Board teachers as well as grade appropriate packages of activities for teachers. Jackie looks forward to working with all involved and sharing ideas in any way possible. Our environment is always in need of attention and young people in our schools are a great place to foster knowledge and action with respect to maintaining and improving the relationship between humans and nature.