EF Education First announced Wednesday the appointment of Mary Wittenberg, a sport and fitness executive, as the new president of EF Pro Cycling. She will work between the company and the team, and alongside EF Pro Cycling's CEO Jonathan Vaughters to help the team reach new audiences.
"I am excited to join EF and our pro cycling team at this formative stage and to be part of a purpose-driven company that brings people together through exploring the world," Wittenberg said in a press statement.
"I am inspired by the sport of cycling and this team, in particular; as riders from different countries and cultures come together to bring their dreams to life. EF and Jonathan Vaughters have set a great foundation that marry the transformative power of travel, education and sport. We have a chance to bring a fresh approach to cycling and recruit similarly inspired partners to join us."
Wittenberg has a 20-year career in running and endurance sports. She recently served as the founding CEO of Virgin Sport and prior to that was the long-time CEO of New York Road Runners and race director for the TCS New York City Marathon.
EF Education First, an international education company that focuses on language, travel, academics and cultural exchange, announced last September that it would financially back the pro cycling team – formerly Cannondale-Drapac - during the 2018 season and beyond.
The company stepped in after an expected €7 million sponsor backed out, saving the team from the risk of folding. Vaughters believes that Wittenberg’s wealth of experience as a sports executive and in business will help create a more sustainable financial model for the team in the future.
"Mary brings a fresh perspective to the sport. Mary’s vision, passion, and expertise make her uniquely qualified to lead our efforts as we seek to expand our reach,” Vaughters said. “We’re working toward creating a more sustainable financial model for the team, and we’ll be leaning heavily on her business and brand background, and also her experience in growing one of the world’s great sporting events.”
In a press release, EF Education First said that Wittenberg will help position the team for future success and promote EF’s mission of opening the world through education by encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zones and explore the world.
"EF’s commitment is to bring different cultures together, to spark mutual understanding around the ways people and communities approach and see life," said Edward Hult , EF CEO North America.
“The goal is to promote empathy among people of diverse backgrounds, and inspire new ways of thinking which together can help make the world a little better. EF Pro Cycling is a platform that embodies this spirit, and which helps show how positive things happen when people explore the world. Having Mary join the team is an exciting step in continuing to spread this message."