The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA®

GAHF

The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA® serves as the national membership association for German-American heritage. GAHF cultivates a greater awareness for German-American heritage and history through outreach efforts that deepen cultural understanding.

We are committed to:

  • Sharing a positive image of Americans of German-speaking heritage by focusing on their historical contributions to American society.
  • Strengthening the ethnic awareness and diversity of German-Americans.
  • Promoting the German language and culture.
  • Cultivating German American friendship and bonds.
  • Supporting cooperative efforts among German-Americans and their organizations.

Mission

The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA® (GAHF) is dedicated to preserving, educating and promoting the cultural heritage of Americans of German-speaking ancestry. Our mission is to be an effective voice for German-Americans in cultural and public policy matters in the United States.

History

The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA, Inc. was established in 1977 and chartered the following year as the United German-American Committee of the USA, Inc. as an independent, tax-exempt, educational, not-for profit organization.

WHAT WE DO

Increase

public knowledge about the rich heritage of all Americans of German speaking descent

Educate

the American public about the historical contributions of German-Americans to the growth and development of society in the United States

Develop

a broader understanding and deeper knowledge about the Germany of today and its role in transatlantic relations and on the world stage

Promote

the German language and culture

Support

cooperative efforts among all German-Americans in the United States

Cultivate

Geman-American friendship and cooperation

OUR BOARD

  • J. Marc Wheat
    PRESIDENT
    J. Marc Wheat
    PRESIDENT

    Marc is an attorney in Washington, DC, and serves as the president of the Germanna Foundation in Orange County, Virginia, which supports archaeological investigations to discover the site of Fort Germanna, the westernmost settlement in the British Empire in 1714 and the earliest German-American archaeological site that remains.   Prior to this work, he served as Staff Director and Chief Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, & Human Resources. During his tenure there, he lectured at the European Parliament in Brussels; met with advisors to President Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan; and helped manually eradicate a coca field in Colombia. He learned a great deal about the world after joining the U.S. Department of State under Secretary Colin Powell six weeks after 9/11, where he served as Senior Advisor for Senate Affairs.

    In the 1990’s, Marc was Counsel to the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he worked principally on health care, bioethics, and bioterrorism; while Director of Tax and Budget Policy for Citizens for a Sound Economy, he succeeded in the elimination of $8.1 billion of wasteful spending in May 1992, the largest such rescission since 1982. As founder of the Porkbusters Coalition, Marc’s work was the subject of Adventures in Porkland, a book by Washington Post reporter Brian Kelly and illustrated by political cartoonist Pat Oliphant. A discussion of his anti-trafficking work is found in Robert Goff’s Finding Karishma: Modern-Day Slavery and the New Abolition Movement, and acknowledged in Francis Fukuyama’s Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. He is a 2006 alumnus of the Congress-Bundestag Staff Exchange Program.

    Marc received his B.A. (Spanish and political science) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987, and his Juris Doctor in the Corporate and Securities Specialty Track at George Mason University in Virginia. He is vice-chairman of the board of trustees of Rivendell School, a board member of the Hebron Lutheran Church Foundation (which supports colonial-era German-speaking church in Virginia), and member of the board of visitors of the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems of the Fund for American Studies.

    A member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, the Pilgrims of the United States, the Order of St. John, and the American Council on Germany, Marc and his wife Marie (a former Transatlantic Fellow of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt) raise their son and daughter at Germanna and in Arlington, Virginia.

  • Ron Kosmahl
    1ST VICE PRESIDENT
    Ron Kosmahl
    1ST VICE PRESIDENT
    As First VP Ron works closely with the President, Executive Committee and the Executive Director, focusing on Human resources as well as Marketing and promotional events at the GAHF.  
    Ron is a dual citizen of Germany and the United States, and a Business Development and Client Relations executive. While spending over 20 years in Germany working for Lufthansa and American Airlines in management positions, Ron also grew up in New Jersey and Ohio as the son of a German physicist who moved his family to the USA at the invitation of the DOD. Having studied abroad at the Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany, Ron is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, receiving a BA in International Relations, and German History.
    Ron believes in being a global citizen, is passionate about German History and is active in CSR, environmental and community affairs, working for various social causes. He currently works as a Regional Sales Director for Raptim Humanitarian Travel, and continues to participate and support various German-American Business and Cultural organizations.
     
  • Aaron Lewis
    2ND VICE PRESIDENT
    Aaron Lewis
    2ND VICE PRESIDENT
  • Hardy von Auenmueller
    VP OF FINANCE
    Hardy von Auenmueller
    VP OF FINANCE

    Personal & Mission Statement

    I enjoyed an idyllic childhood "to the manor born." After WW II, our substantial landholdings were confiscated by the Soviet occupation government. We were headed for a one-way ride to Siberia – which we declined by defecting to the West – where we re-settled in a bombed out building on an abandoned airfield. During those formative years, I learned to live frugally. When I came to this country as a young adult – with a business degree and a treaty trader visa in hand – I was privileged to work for a multi-national firm called Hoechst – the superlative of "high" – on the 82nd floor of the Empire State Building. That was indeed the physical zenith of my life! After twenty years of faithful service to that company, I ventured out on my own. Restructuring faltering enterprises became my specialty, in the US and – following the fall of the Berlin Wall – in Eastern Germany. 
     
    Twelve years ago, I recognized an opportunity to apply my trade as a turn-around specialist in the not-for-profit field: first as a Board member, then as President and recently as Chairman of the German Society of Pennsylvania. This 250-year-old cultural institution, the oldest of its kind, has been put on a solid financial footing, expanded its programs, and thus became a beacon in the German-American community of Greater Philadelphia. 
     
    In late 2009, before our Foundation opened its museum in Washington, I was approached by Bern Deichmann to review the projected budget. It showed a six-figure deficit. As I had no way of estimating the potential revenue stream, my recommendation was to cut operating expenses to the bone. When this was accomplished, I was asked to join the Board – with a subsequent appointment as Vice President, Finance. In that capacity, I helped hone our financial reporting procedures, introduced the 90-day rolling cash flow forecast system and a full cost accounting for our exhibits.  By recruiting a new accounting firm for the Foundation, our auditing expenses were halved. Several intermittent loans were either converted to gifts or partially forgiven. My own personal contributions over the past five years have amounted to more than $60,000.  In 2014, I served intermittently as President for one year. 
  • Megan Lott
    VP OF DEVELOPMENT
    Megan Lott
    VP OF DEVELOPMENT

    Megan Beth Lott is delighted to serve as the Vice President for Development on the GAHF Board of Directors.  Currently, Megan is the Vice President of Development at Accuracy in Media, the nation’s oldest media watchdog organization, where she oversees all aspects of its fundraising operations, and she also serves as a Contributing Editor to the AIM Report newsletter. She brings over thirty years of experience in development within the public policy and charitable communities.  Megan graduated from The College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Government.  Formerly the Director of Development at the Media Research Center, Senior Director of Development at the Center for Individual Rights, and Senior Director of Membership and Development at the American Legislative Exchange Council, Megan has also raised funds for The Lab School of Washington, The National Council for Adoption, The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, and The Leadership Institute.  Megan is a Lifetime Member of the Lexington Who’s Who and has raised over $250 million for the causes she passionately believes in.

    An avid reader and history buff, Megan also enjoys travel, music and theater.  A native of Woodbridge, Virginia, and a proud “Navy brat,” she is co-coordinator of her high school reunions and serves as a Class Ambassador for her alumni class at the College of William & Mary. 

    Megan is active in politics at the local, state and national levels and is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, the Titanic Historical Society, and is dedicated to the work of the National Safe Haven Alliance.  She was recently honored by Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the President of Mongolia, for her dedication to women’s and children’s issues in his country.  But her most beloved role is that of being a devoted “Auntie” to her niece, nephews and 26 godchildren.  

  • Rolf Hoffmann
    VP OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
    Rolf Hoffmann
    VP OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

    Rolf Hoffmann has spent his professional career in health care at Eli Lilly and Amgen. He has worked all-around the world in leadership positions, Boards, and community projects. He has run the enterprises for these multinationals in Europe, Latin America, Africa, as well as the US.

    Since his retirement in 2016 he has focused on Board work in Europe and the USA and a professorship at UNC-Chapel Hill.
    Throughout his career Rolf has always been mindful of his heritage, representing German American interests at the highest political levels as well as being an active member and leader of his beloved “Rote Funken” carnival club in his hometown Cologne.

    Rolf resides with his American wife in Switzerland and visits their three children, who all live in the US, frequently.
    He is honored and looking forward to join the Board and contribute to taking GAHF to the next leve

  • Wendy Wurlitzer
    TREASURER
    Wendy Wurlitzer
    TREASURER

    While attending Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, I majored in German and graduated cum laude.  Marquette University offered a full scholarship for the Master’s Program that I accepted. While there, I instructed beginning German for two years to undergraduate students.

    I then began my career in banking beginning at U.S. Bancorp’s 18-month management training program.  I worked as an Assistant Branch Manager in Milwaukee for two years.  I then joined Citizens Bank of Delavan in WI where I started out as a Cashier.  Eventually I served as Chairman of the Board.  The bank ranked in the 98th percentile in terms of R.O.A., capital and efficiency ratios.

    In 1994, our family moved to Richmond, VA where I worked for Union Bank & Trust as a commercial lender.

    I now serve as Finance Vice-President for the National Society of Colonial Dames in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Treasurer for the Old Dominion Theatre Organ Society, and a Director-at –Large for the Theatre Historical Society in Elmhurst, IL.

    I have contributed to the Byrd Theatre Wurlitzer organ restoration project with Bob Gulledge, the house organist.  The National Association of Professional Women inducted me into their VIP Woman of the Year Circle.  The Continental Who’s Who inducted me as a Pinnacle Professional Member.  These positions reflect my financial aptitude and ability to work with a diverse group of individuals.

    My heritage is German in that my grandfather, Raimund Wurlitzer married Pauline Pabst of the brewery family.  Captain Pabst is my great-great grandfather.  I support the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee with their restoration project.

    Wendy Wurlitzer

  • Lucas Pipes
    SECRETARY
    Lucas Pipes
    SECRETARY

    Lucas Pipes is a financial professional covering the metals and mining sector as Senior Analyst at FBR & Co. He was recognized as a "Rising Star of Wall Street Research" by Institutional Investor magazine and is a CFA charterholder. Mr. Pipes has deep roots to Germany, being raised in Freiburg before attending Bard College in New York State. Mr. Pipes is also serving on the advisory board of the The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities as well as the Junior Board and Finance Committee of the Bard Music Festival. Mr. Pipes is looking forward to contribute to and build upon GAHF's initiatives for engagement with young people interested in German-American heritage, culture, and language. His experience in and enthusiasm for spearheading this important mandate will be a valuable addition to the Board.

  • Capt. Hank Stoffel
    REGIONAL VP
    Capt. Hank Stoffel
    REGIONAL VP

    My parents emigrated from Wuppertal, Germany in the mid 1930's, and in 1940, I was born in Patterson, NJ. After moving from New Jersey to New York City, I attended public schools and joined the Lutheran Church.

    I also became active in the New York Turner organization.

    Living in the Big Apple, I developed an interest in aviation. After graduating from high school at age 16, I joined the U.S. Air Force. While in the Air Force I was stationed at Rhein Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany. During my three years in Germany I traveled throughout Europe and North Africa. Upon my return to the United States, I was a flight simulator instructor with Pan American World Airlines. While finishing college aviation studies, I simultaneously operated an air taxi company and taught at a flight safety school. In1966, I joined Trans World Airlines as a Boeing 707 pilot, and continued flying internationally for 34 years – until my retirement in the year 2000.

    After moving to California, I began volunteering at the library culture section of the Sacramento Turn Verein in various capacities, for several years. I also joined the German-American Heritage Foundation. Over the past ten years, I have been active traveling around the United States – visiting many German-American organizations – in an effort to raise funds for GAHF. My mission is to continue campaigning for German American causes.

    I have also been active with many West Coast clubs and the German Consulate in San Francisco, CA. This activity has been very rewarding during my retirement, and I hope to continue so for many years.

    Hank Stoffel

  • Robert L. Fricke
    REGIONAL VP
    Robert L. Fricke
    REGIONAL VP

    I grew up with the German-American organizations of Northern Ohio, and visited and participated in German-American groups throughout the country. The GAHF is one of the very few organizations dedicated to all German culture, and the only German-American organization with a national museum. Its charter and function complement, and do not compete with, other German-American activities and organizations.

    I have been chagrined over the years to witness German-American history and culture denigrated because of the dreadful events involving Germany – not German-Americans – during the last century. Whenever and however I can, I challenge that attitude and delight in sharing my knowledge of German-American culture and history in an effort to interest people in our history and culture. As a member of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), I am also active in attempts to regenerate interest in introducing German language programs in my local school district.

    In my approximately two-year tenure on the Board of Directors I have raised money for the organization, both from my own contributions and contributions of friends and family. I have donated $500.00 above and beyond my membership dues and will pledge another $500.00 this calendar year. Friends and family members have either contributed money or joined the organization at my request.

    In addition to fund solicitation, I have attended numerous German-American social events and venues as representative of the GAHF. I have established relationships with executive officials of the German-American Chamber of Commerce, TEV Edelweiss, Schlarafia, and the Denver Turnverein. In Denver during the spring of 2013, I met with the Honorary German Consul for Colorado/Wyoming. My liaison to date has involved planning to apply GAHF assets and assistance to enhancing local German American events and activities, as well as membership recruitment.

    All in all, I consider the GAHF to be the preeminent and most significant German-American organization in the United States. I desire to grow in my position as Regional Vice President to help the organization flourish. I have enjoyed my service with the organization since 2013 and will always consider it an honor to have served in such capacity.

    It will also entail my serving as a consultant and advisor within the organization regarding German-American culture and activities in our region.

    Bob Fricke

OUR STAFF

  • Erika Harms
    Executive Director
    Erika Harms
    Executive Director

    Ms Harms comes to the German-American Heritage Foundation with over 14 years of experience of Associations and non-for-profit organizations. She was the founding CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council a global organization that included members like Hilton, TUI, Melia, amongst its 160 members. Prior to that she managed the Sustainability Division of the United Nations. Ms Harms also served as Consul General and Deputy Chief of Mission to the White House of the Embassy of Costa Rica. She has ample experience in fundraising and membership management. A German-Costarrican,  Ms. Harms has lived 17 years in Washington, DC and has two children.

    Contact me

    [contact-form-7 id="258" title="Contact Us"]

  • Christine Yang
    Administrative Director
    Christine Yang
    Administrative Director

    As a native of Austria, Mrs. Yang joined the organization in 2011 as an Accountant and Administrative Assistant. With 20 years of experience in this field, she is responsible for managing all administrative functions in the day-to-day operations, maintaining the financial records, and handling Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable in Quickbooks.

    Mrs. Yang is married and has two grown children.

  • Carl Anderson
    Assistant Manager
    Carl Anderson
    Assistant Manager

    Carl Anderson, Assistant Manager, received his B.A. in Modern Foreign Languages from James Madison University.

  • Julia Dutkiewicz
    Intern
    Julia Dutkiewicz
    Intern

    Julia is a sophomore at Georgetown University majoring in International Business and Marketing. She is working at the German-American Heritage Museum as a business intern for the Spring semester.

  • Angela Kostelyk
    Intern
    Angela Kostelyk
    Intern

    Angela Kostelyk is a senior, majoring in German and Political Science, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is working at the German American Heritage Museum as an administrative intern for the 2017 spring semester.

  • Michael Heinen
    Director of Operations
    Michael Heinen
    Director of Operations

    Michael comes to the German American Heritage Foundation after spending 15 years in the financial services industry, having worked for Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan in New York as well as Lloyds Banking Group in Berlin, Germany. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1998 with a degree in Foreign Service and currently lives in Rockville, MD with his wife Caroline and 3 year old daughter.