Meet Robyn Benincasa

Robyn Benincasa has made an art form of extreme performance by competing and winning at the highest levels of sport and business. Robyn is an award-winning keynote speaker, a 20+ year veteran San Diego firefighter, a World Champion Adventure Racer, a 2014 CNN Hero, a Guinness World Record Endurance Kayaker, a New York Times best-selling author, and the Founder of The Project Athena Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping survivors of medical or other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams. Robyn is known as an inspirational force for leadership, teambuilding, and extreme performance. Her game-changing keynotes have earned Robyn accolades as one of the Top 50 Keynote Speakers in the World, the #1 Female Speaker for MeetingsNet, and one of the Top 10 Speakers featured by Harvard Business Review. For the past 15 years, Robyn’s keynotes have received rave reviews from user groups, associations, and Fortune 500 companies, including Starbucks, Walmart, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Yahoo, Intel, and more. 


When the challenges are steep, the goals audacious, and the competition fierce, Robyn gives individuals and organizations the tools they need to inspire themselves and one another to their greatest heights and across their most challenging finish lines.

Inspirational Keynote Speaker

Robyn’s multi-faceted experience inspires people to grab life with one hand, grab their teammates with the other, and to achieve audacious goals that they could never accomplish alone. She is the expert that companies call on to build world class teams, inspire peak performance and create a culture of champions. Far more than a motivational speaker with a generic “feel good” message, Robyn brings serious business savvy to the table. She has a deep understanding of the challenges today’s businesses face — gained from years of success in the competitive world of pharmaceutical and hospital supply sales before becoming a firefighter.


Robyn has successfully translated the lessons learned from extreme team sports to the corporate world, with compelling keynotes that show how groups of ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things together!

Founder: Project Athena

Project Athena“It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback!” Robyn Benincasa became a CNN Hero in 2014 for founding the Project Athena Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit that helps women survivors of medical and other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams. The Project Athena Foundation has enabled hundreds of survivors and their supporters to meet heroic initiatives like trekking the Grand Canyon rim to rim, or kayaking and cycling from Key Largo to Key West, or conquering their first 5k. Project Athena provides travel expenses, coaching, equipment, and most importantly, the encouragement and inspiration needed to make the transition from Survivor to Athlete. Learn more about Project Athena.

Robyn Benincasa and team

World Champion Adventure Racer

For the past 20 years, Robyn and her teammates have studied teambuilding, leadership, and performance in the most extreme classrooms on Earth including the jungles of Borneo, the Himalayan peaks of Tibet, the rivers of Fiji, the rainforests of Ecuador, and the epic brush fires of Southern California (just to name a few)! It is through these harrowing, life affirming, and cooperative experiences that Robyn has emerged with her unique perspective on what it takes to succeed against all odds and go the distance.

America's First All-Female Fire Crew

Robyn Benincasa was a member of the first American all-female fire crew and is a 23 year veteran of the San Diego Fire Department.

“It was such a wonderful experience to be a part of this team of fun, fearless females!” – Robyn


Stay Connected

Robyn Benincasa wearing Merrell shirt

Career Highlights & Awards

  • Member of America’s First All-Female Firefighter Crew, San Diego, CA
  • Current Record Holder: Guinness World Record for Longest Distance Paddled in a Kayak/Canoe in 24 Hrs., Moving Water, Female
  • Women’s Course Record Holder, Missouri River 340:  5th fastest solo time in race history
  • 10x Iron-man Triathlon Finisher: 2 Top 5 age group, Kona Hawaii Iron-man World Championship
  • 2x World Champion Expedition Adventure Racer: EcoChallenge/Raid Gauloises
  • Top 5 Finisher in over 25 Expedition Length Adventure Races (6-10 days, nonstop) 
  • 24 Hour Adventure National Racing Champion
  • National Judo Champion (-72 kilo)
  • 2nd place OVERALL & 1st place Woman 5x, Missouri River 340 (340 Mile nonstop paddling race) 
  • World’s Top 50 Keynote Speakers of 2020 (Real Leaders Magazine) 
  • #1 Female Speaker for Meetings.Net
  • Top 5 Teamwork Speakers by
  • Top 10 Speakers Featured by the Harvard Business Review
  • Top 10 New York Times Bestselling Authors Who Can Better Your Company and Your Life
  • CNN Hero for The Project Athena Foundation
  • Runners World Heroes for The Project Athena Foundation
  • State Farm “Acts of Kindness” Award Recipient for Project Athena