ABOUT THE BMW MOA FOUNDATION

ADVANCING RIDER SAFETY, EDUCATION AND TRAINING

The Foundation’s History

On September 7, 2000, a new non-profit educational foundation named the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Foundation was approved as a tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service. This is the story of the vision, dedication, and hard work that created this organization.

After a meeting of BMW club presidents at the International Rally in Fredericksburg, Texas, in 1997, BMW MOA Ambassador Clark Luster approached BMW MOA President Jeff Dean about the possibility of creating a tax-exempt foundation for motorcycle enthusiasts. Luster, who was the executive director for Presley Ridge Schools, a non-profit foundation for underprivileged children, imagined that motorcyclists might appreciate the opportunity to make tax-deductible gifts to an organization dedicated to the advancement of safety and education in motorcycling. Dean agreed.

During the following winter, Luster presented the idea to Jeff Dunkle, the treasurer of the BMW MOA. Dunkle arranged for Luster to get a slot on the agenda of the next MOA board of directors meeting, which was scheduled to meet at the American Motorcyclist Association headquarters in Westerville, Ohio, in April, 1998.

Luster outlined his concept to the MOA board, and asked for permission to form a task force to explore the feasibility of the creation of a new foundation. The MOA board unanimously approved the creation of a task force, and Luster returned home to Pittsburgh, realizing he had created a world of work for himself and other supporters of the concept. His next step was to prepare a presentation for the 1998 MOA International Rally in Missoula, Montana, which resulted in MOA President Dean appointing a feasibility task force consisting of himself, Luster, D.J. Douglas, Mike White, Jeff Dunkle, Charles Peters, and Roger Wiles. Luster reported the formation of the task force at the annual Ambassador dinner, receiving an enthusiastic reaction.

Luster hosted the first meeting of the task force in the conference room of Pressley Ridge Schools in Pittsburgh on April 20, 1998. With the assistance of attorney Carolyn Duronio, the group spent a day brainstorming and planning how to launch the new foundation. The following goals were established:

  • Create a national educational facility including a library, archives, museum, and hall of fame.
  • Provide training in riding skills, safety and leadership.
  • Promote programs for first-time riders with an emphasis on youth, women, and minorities.
  • Establish a clearinghouse for the redistribution of motorcycles, equipment, and supplies.
  • Respond positively to new and creative initiatives from the members.

Another Pittsburgh BMW rider, David Celento, learned about the project and became enthusiastically involved. Celento, and his wife Rebecca Henn, both of whom are architects, contributed many hours to the development of the concept of a national headquarters that could serve enthusiasts.This concept envisioned a 200 acre site in scenic riding country, featuring meeting space, educational facilities, motorcycle maintenance bays, camping, and lodging facilities. This component was thought to be a long term project that would be implemented in phases.

Luster reported the proposals of the task force to the BMW MOA Board of Directors at a meeting in Tucson in January 1999. In response, the board unanimously approved a motion by Director Ted Verrill to create a tax-exempt foundation. An executive committee was formed consisting of Luster, president; Wiles, secretary; D.J. Douglas, treasurer; and Peters, Dean, Sue Rihn-Manke, Court Fisher, and Jeff Melcher as trustees.

The foundation board had hoped to officially launch the project at the 1999 MOA International Rally at Rheinbeck, New York. Unfortunately, this did not happen because working out a licensing agreement with the BMW MOA (a requirement of BMW North America to use the BMW name) was not as simple as anticipated. In the meantime, Luster got the nameless foundation incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania, and settled for a second annual progress report and informal briefing – rather than an official launch — at Rheinbeck.

At the Rheinbeck Rally, The Chain Gang raised $2,500 for the foundation with a 50/50 raffle, and the Kansas City BMW Club donated $1,000, which helped offset legal expenses that had been incurred to create the foundation.
In January 2000, the necessary licensing agreement was finalized and approved by the BMW MOA Board of Directors during a special telephone conference. At this time the BMW MOA board had set out to restructure the administrative functions of the organization, hiring former AMA president Ed Youngblood as an organizational consultant. Youngblood, who had set up the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation on behalf of the AMA during the 1980s, was instructed by the BMW MOA directors to provide assistance to help the BMW MOA Foundation trustees move the project forward as quickly as possible. In February, 2000, Youngblood advised Luster in finalizing the Bylaws for the BMW MOA Foundation, and papers were filed by attorney Duronio with the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status.

In April 2000, the process of selecting a full board of 100 trustees for the Foundation was put in place. By July 2000, every piece for the creation of the BMW MOA Foundation was in place except final approval for tax-exempt status by the IRS. Bylaws were approved, Pennsylvania incorporation was completed, a name had been chosen and properly licensed by the BMW MOA, and a board of trustees was in place.

Sixty-six trustees held their first meeting on July 12, 2000, at the MOA International Rally at Midland, Michigan. During a productive two-hour meeting, committees were created, committee chairs selected and a new executive board created consisting of Luster, Wiles, Rihn-Manke, Sandy Cohen, Deb Lower, and Jim Shaw. Shortly thereafter, on September 7, 2000, the BMW MOA Foundation received its tax-exempt approval from the IRS!

Since that time, and through the efforts of many volunteers, and after many false starts and set backs, the Foundation has worked hand-in-hand with the Board of the BMW MOA to evolve into what is now the fundraising arm of the MOA. The Foundation is now responsible for generating the money used to pay for the courses and educational opportunities offered by the MOA’s Rider Performance University (RPU). In addition, the Foundation purchase a SmartTrainer riding simulator/trainer developed by the MSF and Honda. The SmartTrainer is offered at major rallies and local club events, and has proven to be a very popular means of reminding all participants that you can always learn to be a better, and safer, rider.

The Foundation’s Mission and Values

The BMW MOA Foundation is dedicated to improving rider safety by providing programs that support motorcycling and its rich heritage. This mission is founded on the following goals:

  • Provide and promote programs for first time riders with an emphasis on youth, women, and families.

  • Support a variety of educational and training programs related to safe motorcycling.

  • Respond to the initiatives of donors and supporters within the stated mission and vision of the Foundation.

  • Seek opportunities to partner with other organizations with similar missions.

The Foundation’s Governing Bylaws

View the MOA Foundation’s Governing Bylaws PDF

During the following winter, Luster presented the idea to Jeff Dunkle, the treasurer of the BMW MOA. Dunkle arranged for Luster to get a slot on the agenda of the next MOA board of directors meeting, which was scheduled to meet at the American Motorcyclist Association headquarters in Westerville, Ohio, in April, 1998.

Luster outlined his concept to the MOA board, and asked for permission to form a task force to explore the feasibility of the creation of a new foundation. The MOA board unanimously approved the creation of a task force, and Luster returned home to Pittsburgh, realizing he had created a world of work for himself and other supporters of the concept. His next step was to prepare a presentation for the 1998 MOA International Rally in Missoula, Montana, which resulted in MOA President Dean appointing a feasibility task force consisting of himself, Luster, D.J. Douglas, Mike White, Jeff Dunkle, Charles Peters, and Roger Wiles. Luster reported the formation of the task force at the annual Ambassador dinner, receiving an enthusiastic reaction.

Luster hosted the first meeting of the task force in the conference room of Pressley Ridge Schools in Pittsburgh on April 20, 1998. With the assistance of attorney Carolyn Duronio, the group spent a day brainstorming and planning how to launch the new foundation. The following goals were established:

  • Create a national educational facility including a library, archives, museum, and hall of fame.
  • Provide training in riding skills, safety and leadership.
  • Promote programs for first-time riders with an emphasis on youth, women, and minorities.
  • Establish a clearinghouse for the redistribution of motorcycles, equipment, and supplies.
  • Respond positively to new and creative initiatives from the members.

Another Pittsburgh BMW rider, David Celento, learned about the project and became enthusiastically involved. Celento, and his wife Rebecca Henn, both of whom are architects, contributed many hours to the development of the concept of a national headquarters that could serve enthusiasts.This concept envisioned a 200 acre site in scenic riding country, featuring meeting space, educational facilities, motorcycle maintenance bays, camping, and lodging facilities. This component was thought to be a long term project that would be implemented in phases.

Luster reported the proposals of the task force to the BMW MOA Board of Directors at a meeting in Tucson in January 1999. In response, the board unanimously approved a motion by Director Ted Verrill to create a tax-exempt foundation. An executive committee was formed consisting of Luster, president; Wiles, secretary; D.J. Douglas, treasurer; and Peters, Dean, Sue Rihn-Manke, Court Fisher, and Jeff Melcher as trustees.

The foundation board had hoped to officially launch the project at the 1999 MOA International Rally at Rheinbeck, New York. Unfortunately, this did not happen because working out a licensing agreement with the BMW MOA (a requirement of BMW North America to use the BMW name) was not as simple as anticipated. In the meantime, Luster got the nameless foundation incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania, and settled for a second annual progress report and informal briefing – rather than an official launch — at Rheinbeck.

At the Rheinbeck Rally, The Chain Gang raised $2,500 for the foundation with a 50/50 raffle, and the Kansas City BMW Club donated $1,000, which helped offset legal expenses that had been incurred to create the foundation.
In January 2000, the necessary licensing agreement was finalized and approved by the BMW MOA Board of Directors during a special telephone conference. At this time the BMW MOA board had set out to restructure the administrative functions of the organization, hiring former AMA president Ed Youngblood as an organizational consultant. Youngblood, who had set up the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation on behalf of the AMA during the 1980s, was instructed by the BMW MOA directors to provide assistance to help the BMW MOA Foundation trustees move the project forward as quickly as possible. In February, 2000, Youngblood advised Luster in finalizing the Bylaws for the BMW MOA Foundation, and papers were filed by attorney Duronio with the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status.

In April 2000, the process of selecting a full board of 100 trustees for the Foundation was put in place. By July 2000, every piece for the creation of the BMW MOA Foundation was in place except final approval for tax-exempt status by the IRS. Bylaws were approved, Pennsylvania incorporation was completed, a name had been chosen and properly licensed by the BMW MOA, and a board of trustees was in place.

Sixty-six trustees held their first meeting on July 12, 2000, at the MOA International Rally at Midland, Michigan. During a productive two-hour meeting, committees were created, committee chairs selected and a new executive board created consisting of Luster, Wiles, Rihn-Manke, Sandy Cohen, Deb Lower, and Jim Shaw. Shortly thereafter, on September 7, 2000, the BMW MOA Foundation received its tax-exempt approval from the IRS!

Since that time, and through the efforts of many volunteers, and after many false starts and set backs, the Foundation has worked hand-in-hand with the Board of the BMW MOA to evolve into what is now the fundraising arm of the MOA. The Foundation is now responsible for generating the money used to pay for the courses and educational opportunities offered by the MOA’s Rider Performance University (RPU). In addition, the Foundation purchase a SmartTrainer riding simulator/trainer developed by the MSF and Honda. The SmartTrainer is offered at major rallies and local club events, and has proven to be a very popular means of reminding all participants that you can always learn to be a better, and safer, rider.

Meet the MOA Foundation Directors

Tom Gary

MOA Foundation President
Email: tgary@bmwmoaf.org

Tom and his wife Debbie live in Saline, Michigan. Tom is retired after a 38-year career with Norfolk Southern Corp., where he managed Automotive Operations and Damage Prevention efforts. Tom has two grown sons and two granddaughters. Currently, he is serving as a Planning Commissioner on the York Township, Michigan, Planning Commission.

Tom has been riding since purchasing his first motorcycle in 1971, a new Honda CB 750 K1, and started motorcycle touring with his wife. He joined the BMW MOA in 2000 after purchasing his first BMW, and quickly realized that being a Life Member would insure he would always be part of the BMW community. He is also member of BMW Touring Club Detroit (Charter Club #1), were he was Vice-President and President. He is also a member of the BMW RA, where he is serving as a Regional Director. In addition he is a past Director/Treasurer of Curve Cowboy Reunion (Charter Club #282). Other memberships include AMA and local club Michigan Sport Touring Riders.

In addition to his passion for riding, Tom can be found in his workshop creating furniture and other wood projects for his family. Tom is excited to serve on the MOA Foundation Board and believes promoting rider training and safety is the best way to insure the future of motorcycle riding.

Pam Werstler

MOA Foundation Secretary
Email: pwerstler@bmwmoaf.org

Pam met her husband in 1984. Tom told her about his motorcycle and their first date was a motorcycle ride. She hadn’t ridden motorcycles since she was a teenager, so she was a little apprehensive, but Tom soon proved he could handle the motorcycle and they have been riding ever since. Tom and Pam currently ride a K 1600 GTL trike known as “Smokey.”

Pam likes to carry a camera or two while riding and take photos along the way, because you never know what might pop up. She especially likes to shoot old barns. Pam is the Secretary of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of Alabama, where she and Tom live. She has served on various boards through out the years and looks forward to serving on the Foundation Board.

Dan Finazzo

MOA Foundation Treasurer
Email: dfinazzo@bmwmoaf.org

Dan and his wife Lauria reside in Waconia, Minnesota, just west of Minneapolis. Dan’s two daughters and their families, including five grandchildren, are all located in this rural Minnesota town. Dan holds a professional engineering license and is approaching five decades of service with retirement just around the corner.

Dan has been riding motorcycles since his early teens. In 1977, he stopped riding street bikes and began riding the dirt roads and woods in southern Missouri and on occasion heading out to the National Forests in Colorado. It was not until 2003, after a 25-year hiatus from riding on the street, that Dan’s youngest daughter graduated from college and he rewarded himself with a graduation present, a new BMW K 1200 LT.

Dan has enjoyed being a member of his local BMW Motorcycle clubs first in Cincinnati and now in Minneapolis, along with being a member of the BMW MOA and BMW RA. He was also on the Board of Directors of the Curve Cowboy Reunion (Charter Club #282) until the end of its 17-year run.

At his wife’s request for a convertible, Dan became a sidecar enthusiast. They ride with a Hannigan SP2 on their LT and are finishing up placing a DMC Expedition Sidecar on his 2016 R 1200 GSA. Dan looks forward to being a productive member of the Foundation promoting rider training, safety and education.

David Dunn

MOA Foundation Director
Email: daviddunn@bmwmoaf.org

After working as an investment banker, owning several businesses and doing small business development, David is ready to retire and help the Foundation advance its goal of “training every rider.” While currently working in Economic Development and co-running a manufacturing incubator in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he is eager to be in the saddle and on the road as much as possible.

David and his wife Vikki have three grown children and one granddaughter. David has been riding motorcycles since college except for a 15-year break while raising his kids. He came back to riding in 2004, while living in Vermont, when he purchased a 2002 R 1150 RT and joined the MOA.

David has served on many non-profit Boards and was elected multiple times to run/chair a large school board. He has donated his time toward helping many charities from United Way to Habitat. He is also a Paramedic (15 years) and now teaches EMTs in the Lehigh Valley.

David currently rides a 2020 R 1250 GS and enjoys the open road. He loves long distance touring, motorcycle camping and splitting his time between riding and working EMS at rallies. David says, “I am really looking forward to building the BMW MOA Foundation into a self-sustaining organization that supports rider safety, education and training. One day, I hope every rider is trained.”

Andreas Gneist

MOA Foundation Director
Email: agneist@bmwmoaf.org

After many years in the corporate world, in 2017 Andreas quit his job and with his wife Carolann moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where their new motto has been to “only do things which are fun, may help others and are purposeful.”

Since the move, Andreas has engaged in collaborations with universities, worked for a global social enterprise in Vancouver, served on a non-profit board and recently, set up an initiative connecting motorcycle riders with carbon offsets after witnessing the devastation left by British Columbia’s recurring wildfires.

Andreas has long been engaged with rider training including comprehensive street riding programs in Europe and off-road and trail riding in the U.S. He currently owns three R 1200 GSAs and believes in the unique platform the MOA Foundation provides of connecting with people and providing training opportunities for those who aim to become more skillful riders.

Rik Lewis

MOA Foundation Director
Email: rik.lewis@bmwmoaf.org

After nearly 40 years working in the professional engineering business, Rik is retired and exploring volunteer opportunities that can make the motorcycling world a safer place. He start riding motorcycles a little later than most (at age 40) and joined the BMW riding community in 2019. He loves all things with two wheels, and has been an avid road bicyclist for more than 40 years. Rik currently rides a 2016 F 800 GT and enjoys motorcycle rides of any duration in almost any location.

As a strong believer in the values and concepts of servant leadership, Rik believes promoting rider training and safety via the strong teamwork approach used by the Foundation and its excellent symbiotic partnership with the MOA is a great way to insure the future of safe and enjoyable motorcycle riding. His initial objective is to help the Foundation advance its goal of training every rider. He is particularly interested in facilitating learning activities for all rider experience levels that will increase riders’ risk awareness and mitigation/management skills as a means of enhancing safety.

Rik and his wife Joan divide their time between Chicago and Naples, Florida – depending upon the weather of course.

Marshall “Marty” Martin

MOA Foundation Director
Email: mmartin@bmwmoaf.org

After completing a 23-year career serving in the Navy and 14 years working in the defense contractor world, Marty serves as the Senior Director for Strategy and Education for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, supporting the National Naval Aviation Museum. Marty started riding minibikes and dirt bikes as a teenager in rural Tennessee and bought his first bike, a Honda Shadow 500, while he was in flight training in Pensacola, Florida. After several years of riding in southern California and Hawaii, it was time to raise a family. After a 20-year hiatus, he bought a Harley in 2009 and has been riding ever since. In 2015 he wised up and bought his first BMW, a K 1300 S.

His current steeds are a K 1600 GTL and R 1200 RT. As a private pilot and retired naval flight officer, being able to serve with the MOA Foundation gives him the opportunity to pursue his passion for riding while providing an opportunity to and for fellow riders to improve their skills using aviation safety and risk management principles.

Marty and his wife Sarah, also retired Navy, have two grown children, Zach and Julie, and three grandchildren. They live in Pensacola.

Steve Martin

MOA Foundation Director
Email: steve.martin@bmwmoaf.org

Steve lives in northwest Iowa with his wife, Jo, and their two furry kids. They have two adult children and nine crazy grandchildren.Steve’s family has always embraced motorcycling. With his father and three brothers riding, it was natural for him to follow in their footsteps. He has ridden and owned motorcycles since 1970. He purchased his first BMW in 1995 and enjoys motorcycle travel worldwide. His current touring ride is an R 1200 RT with over 100,000 miles. He also has a love of Italian motorcycles and currently rides a Ducati Monster.

After a career in the commercial printing business, he “sort of” retired in 2016. After the sale of the business, Steve worked for several not-for-profit organizations as Director of Development. His work was to increase donor engagement and raise funds for those organizations. He has served on many not-for-profit boards.

Around 20 years ago, he and his wife were returning home from a motorcycle ride and came across the remains of a motorcycle crash. He later learned that the passenger, a mother of two little girls, was killed. Choosing to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, he contacted his local community college to inquire about helping in their motorcycle training program. He was subsequently trained by the MSF and spent the next 10 years training new riders. Motorcycle training and safety is his passion.

Walton Rogers

MOA Foundation Director
Email: walton.rogers@bmwmoaf.org

Walton started a financial career at age 30 with product knowledge, marketing skills, contact law and entrepreneurial coaching. He spent over 45 years helping people build wealth, protect wealth and enjoy the benefits of their assets. His career has been a series of classes, workshops, recertifications and experiences.

Walton served on the Foundation Board and the Executive Committee of an International Association of Financial Professionals (MDRT). These organizations promote training to better help others, just like the MOA Foundation does for motorcyclists.

Walton has been married to Linda for 30 years. They have four adult children and reside in Amelia Island, Florida, after stops in Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, New York and Maryland. Walton says his attraction to the MOA Foundation was because their primary purpose is to train every rider. This not only refreshes our perishable skills, but it makes things safer and more fun for everyone. He hopes to join you soon in one of these training events.