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Meet the 2023 Candidates for GAHF’s Board of Directors

Introduction & Summary

Beginning in 2022, GAHF introduced voting via a secure online election platform called ElectionBuddy to ensure a smooth and anonymous process. You will once again receive an email with a link to an online ballot. Please do not delete this email. Each email contains a unique access key which can only be used to vote once and your voting choices will remain anonymous. It’s a simple and easy process that will only take a few minutes of your time. You do not have to mail a ballot, but simply press submit to ensure your vote is counted. 

Please note that online voting will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023 and end on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023.

The election results will be announced during the Annual Meeting (via Zoom) on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. Questions? Please contact us at 202-467-5000 or email us at [email protected].

On Aug. 1, 2023, the German-American Heritage Foundation sent a message on behalf of the Nominating Committee to all Members inviting them by Sept. 1, 2023 to propose candidates for the Officer positions and for the openings on the Board of Directors. The members of the Nominating Committee were:  Williams (“Bill”) Martin, Chair; Christiane R. Schmidt; and Donald Thureau, ex officio (as GAHF President).  

All Officer terms are expiring at the end of 2023.  The Nominating Committee has proposed a revised Officer structure and the Board of Directors approved it at the June 2023 meeting. Under the By-laws, Officers shall be limited to serving three (3) consecutive two-year terms in any one office. The new Officers will take office immediately and serve a two-year term.

As the Aug. 1 message to the members noted, there are nine (9) seats available on the Board (terms which are either expiring or seats that are vacant). Under the By-laws, there shall be at least 15 but not more than 18 directors. The By-laws also provide that Directors shall be elected for terms of three (3) years, one third of the Directors to be elected annually and may serve no more than three consecutive terms.  For the purpose of staggering the terms, the Board of Directors may shorten the terms as necessary.

The Nominating Committee has reviewed the qualifications of the candidates, and the Board has approved this slate in its September meeting. 

Officer Candidates

Christiane R. Schmidt


My human resources executive experience and my GAHF Board contributions over the past two years have demonstrated the leadership, creativity and passion needed to achieve goals. 

As we approach our 50th Anniversary in 2026/2027, and to help ensure GAHF’s continued relevance, we need to create a Strategic Plan. To help carry out that plan, we will need to establish an Endowment Fund.
I would be honored to serve as your President.

Daniel Villanueva

1st Vice President

As 1st Vice President, my biggest goal will be the re-imagining of our internal processes, programming, and fundraising through a strategic planning process under the Board’s direction.

Building on my successful leadership of our Membership and Scholarship Committees in the past two years and the combined efforts of our Board, I will engage us all to ensure a more solid financial base, increased programming diversity, and a significant increase in active younger members. 

Williams (Bill) Martin

2nd VP, External Affairs & Membership

I am a retired U.S. diplomat & lawyer with think tank and Capitol Hill experience whose State Department career included serving as U.S. Embassy Berlin’s spokesperson. I would like to contribute to GAHF becoming a dynamic, program-rich, well-resourced national organization that highlights the historic and ongoing contributions of German Americans by strengthening its engagement with the U.S. government, think tanks,  relevant policy organizations, and its outreach to interested Americans and Germans in the U.S.

Lucas Pipes

Vice President of Finance and Treasurer

I served previously on the GAHF Board after Ron Kosmahl and Aaron Lewis had introduced me. Earlier this year, I joined the GAHF Board as Interim Treasurer.

It would be a great honor to continue to serve on the foundation’s board. I would like to contribute my skills as a seasoned professional in finance and my diverse network to further the cause of the German-American Heritage Foundation and its members.

Frederick Hansen


I am a founding member of GAHF (and former Secretary) and pledge to further two of our current goals: to increase our individual membership and to make all Americans aware of the wonderful contributions German-Americans have made to society. I look forward to the various activities and events leading up to our 50th Anniversary. I will also work towards having all officers and directors cooperate fully with each other together with our staff and volunteers.

Director Candidates

Rachel Brocker


I am half German and grew up speaking German at home, surrounded by German culture. After high school, I moved to Berlin for approximately two years, working and attending school. In 2021 I graduated from the University of Maryland Law School.

Since then I’ve practiced law in DC. I would like to utilize my strong ties to the local community and my passion for German culture to attract new members and support the foundation.

William Holly


I am the founder & president of Patton Real Estate Group, a Miami-based, full-service commercial real estate firm providing brokerage, property management, development, and consulting services throughout Florida. I believe in community service and have served on various non-profit boards. GAHF is close to my heart as my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Kiel, Germany and Ossingen, Switzerland. I plan to use my marketing/PR skills to help GAHF grow through co-operations, partnerships, and events.

Ron Kosmahl


As a former First VP and GAHF Board member, I actively supported fundraising and membership drives, several galas, past Presidents and GAHF operations. I plan to utilize my contacts in the travel industry and professional services, various German and American companies/organizations, as well as the German-American community in support of  GAHF, its Board and the Executive Director to facilitate and develop relationships/partnerships with key political, economic, and institutional organizations. 

Joachim Reppmann, PhD


I’m a historian from Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein and expert on the Forty-Eighters. I first came to America in 1978 as a college student after matriculating at the University of Kiel. As a potential Board member, I aim to drive impactful worldwide PR initiatives that celebrate the German-American Heritage Museum’s rich history, educate audiences about the shared German-American cultural journey, and inspire a diverse community to engage with and appreciate the museum’s invaluable contributions.   

Petra Schürmann


I served previously on the GAHF Board (Ruediger Lentz introduced me) and attended the museum’s opening.  When I was offered the position as Executive Director, I gladly accepted.

It would be my pleasure and great honor to rejoin the Board. Not only would I use my German World network (20,000 Facebook fans, 10,000+ emails, 4,500 Instagram followers) to support the Board’s outreach and PR efforts, but I would also help with fundraising and building up new partnerships.

Eric Stallmer


I am a seasoned government relations and public policy professional and former U.S. Army officer who currently holds an executive vice president position at Voyager Space, which allows me to regularly interact with Congress, the White House, and many other federal agencies.

My German immigrant grandfather instilled a love for German culture and customs in me, and I plan to use my extensive network to further GAHF’s work by building new and vital connections.

Donald Thureau


Born in Berlin, I worked in the international chemical industry for 45+ years. I joined the Board in 2018, was elected 1st VP shortly thereafter, and became President 2020-2023.
If re-elected as Director I envision being part of a strong core of Directors in the Washington, DC area helping prepare for the foundation’s 50th anniversary in 2026-2027 as GAHF continues to grow as a national organization serving German-American interests throughout the USA and the EU. 

James Werth


I come from a Volga German family and have been a member and supporter for years of the German-American Heritage Foundation, now at the Council of 1000 level. In addition to promoting GAHF membership among Volga Germans in Arizona, as a former federal government employee, I wish to help with GAHF outreach to interested groups in academia, business, and even government as well as other German American organizations as a source for new members and support.

Martin Wilhelmy


Since 2012 I have served as Germany’s honorary consul in Cincinnati and am active in various German-American social organizations in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana region.  Professionally, I work as a Managing Director in the SKYLINE Wealth Consulting Group of Wells Fargo Advisor.  I am inspired by GAHF’s mission to promote German heritage in America and am a fan of the museum. I will help GAHF with financial matters and am specifically looking to help shape the endowment.

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