Flying Pig names new CEO, Simpson Bush transitions to new role

With its longtime leader transitioning to a new position, Pig Works – the parent organization of the Flying Pig Marathon – has appointed a new president and CEO.

On Thursday, the nonprofit announced Doug Olberding will replace Iris Simpson Bush as Pig Works’ chief executive. Simpson Bush, who’s served as executive director since 2002, will become director of community engagement.

Iris Simpson Bush (left) stands with Doug Olberding at the “Finish Swine” of the Flying Pig Marathon.

“I am deeply honored to step into the role of CEO for Pig Works,” said Olberding, a member of the Flying Pig Marathon board for more than 20 years. “I have great passion for our mission, and I am committed to continuing the incredible work of Iris and this all-star staff, bringing opportunities for health, fitness, and fun to participants of all abilities.”

Olberding recently retired from Xavier University where he chaired the Department of Sports Studies for 14 years. He also served as an associate professor in sports science and management for 25 years.

An expert in the field of sports economics, Olberding created a formula for the Flying Pig Marathon economic impact report. As a runner, he has completed seven marathons.

“Doug has been a long-time valued volunteer leader on the board of the Flying Pig Marathon, and we are thrilled he accepted our offer to lead the organization as president and CEO,” said Jamie Smith, board Chair of Pig Works. “With Doug’s knowledge and passion for the organization, I know we will have a seamless transition in leadership.”

Successfully ‘running’ the Flying Pig for two decades

Simpson Bush was one of the Flying Pig’s first board members, joining the organization in 1997 – a full two years before the inaugural 26.2-mile race. She later became the organization’s executive director after a successful career in broadcast sales.

Under Simpson Bush’s leadership, the Flying Pig Marathon has become one of largest and most celebrated running festivals in America. In recent years, the Flying Pig has grown into a full weekend of events every May, including 5K and 10K races, a half marathon and a 2-mile “Flying Fur” event for dogs and humans. More than 50,000 participants take part every year.

In 2024, the Flying Pig Marathon earned the top spot in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award.

Pig Works also hosts the Queen Bee Half Marathon every October and the TQL Beer Series, which consists of a variety of races throughout the year.

Iris Simpson Bush

Through its combination of efforts, Pig Works raises more than $1 million a year for more than 300 charities. Since 1999, the Flying Pig Marathon has raised more than $20 million.

“Under Iris’ leadership, the Flying Pig Marathon has become one of the most iconic road races in America for all of the right reasons: the race experience, the charitable aspect and the community support,” Smith said. “We are grateful for Iris’ service and thankful she is staying with the organization to lead our community relations program.”

Honoring a race legend

For her efforts with Pig Works, Simpson Bush won the honor of Race Director of the Year from Road Race Management in 2017 and received induction into the Running USA Hall of Fame a year later. The YWCA Greater Cincinnati named Simpson Bush a Career Woman of Achievement in 2020.

Perhaps her greatest honor is her continued involvement with the Flying Pig.

Simpson Bush plans to remain active with Pig Works, overseeing the organization’s community outreach and philanthropic efforts, such as the annual Flying Pig Scholars Program, which provides scholarship money to student athletes at local high schools.

In recognition of Simpson Bush’s impact, Pig Works plans to honor her with several tributes across the Flying Pig Marathon course in 2025.

“It has been an absolute honor to lead my hometown marathon and all of the aspects that go into making it such a special event for our community,” Simpson Bush said.

Flying Pig Marathon

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