Flame of Faith Award
Thomas Allen Moorehead’s remarkable career has taken him down many interesting paths, but his roadmap on life has remained consistent: look for ways to help others. A visionary business professional, Moorehead is a revered mentor to hundreds of African Americans interested in careers in the automobile industry and a philanthropist who has funded scholarships for college students and supported charities targeting underserved communities.
Moorehead began his career at the Mobile Corporation and later at the Chrysler Corporation. In 1972, however, he shifted the focus of his career and accepted a position as Director of Community Service at the University of Michigan. There, he was responsible for programs that promoted civic participation, built community capacity and enhanced the education process.
In 1985, Moorehead’s career took a major turn when he was selected for the General Motors Dealer Training Program. After learning the tricks of the trade at a dealership for three years, he pulled out on his own, opening Moorehead Buick/ Isuzu in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1995, he sold the Omaha store and opened Moorehead Buick-GMC Trucks in Decatur, Illinois. There, he developed a national sales campaign and entered into contracts with two national rental car agencies. The revenue-increasing move ushered the dealership into an elite status among African American automobile dealers.
In 1998, Moorehead set his sights on higher ground to the number one foreign luxury car manufacturer – the BMW brand. His timing was impeccable. The National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) was looking for new dealership sites and minority dealer candidates for BMW. Moorehead was awarded one of the three sites identified in the NAMAD report. BMW had not awarded a franchise in a new territory in two decades.
In December 2013, Moorehead became the first African American awarded a Rolls-Royce franchise. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Sterling is the only full-service dealership between New Jersey and North Carolina. A year later, he purchased Harley-Davidson of Washington, D.C.
Always driven, Moorehead took on yet another business challenge, the hospitality industry. He purchased Marriott Residence Inn at the National Harbor Resort and Convention Center, making him the first African American to own a hotel at the Harbor of Price George’s County, Maryland. Since 2007, his portfolio has grown to more than 40 properties.
In 2004, Moorehead and his wife, Joyce Anne, formed a charitable foundation to support underserved communities in the Washington metropolitan area. The Foundation has provided more than $400,000 in assistance to working families and non-profit organizations in the region, as well as scholarships for college bound high school seniors and emergency grants to matriculating college students.
Moorehead has also helped the Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation establish the Black College Football Hall of Fame, which recognizes the accomplishments of alumni of historically black colleges and award grants to the general fund of their alma maters. Additionally, he annually contributes to a scholarship at Howard University that memorializes his mother and established a scholarship with the Kappa Scholarship Endowment Fund, the charitable affiliate of the Washington, D.C. Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, in honor of his father in-law.
Among Moorehead’s numerous awards include: Washington metropolitan area Top 100 Business Award by Washington Business Journal; listed as Best of the Best Black Business Award by Black Enterprise; National Association of Automobile Dealers nominee for Time magazine Dealer of the Year award; Top 25 Minority Business Leaders by Washington Business Journal; and the BMW dealers national representative by the National Association of Automobile Dealers. Most recently, Moorehead was honored to be a recipient of The 2014 Morehouse College Candle in the Dark Business Award, joining a list of esteemed honorees.
Moorehead earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Grambling University in 1966. In 1971, he earned a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan, where he is six credits short of completing a doctoral degree program.