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Businessman to be graduation speaker

Thomas Allen Moorehead’s career has taken him down many interesting paths, but his road map on life has remained consistent: Look for ways to help others. 

A visionary business professional, Moorehead is a 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.

Thomas Moorehead

Thomas Moorehead

Moorehead, a Grambling State alumnus, will speak at the graduation ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, May 13, in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

Moorehead earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from then Grambling College 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. 

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.

He sold the Omaha store in 1995 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: the BMW brand, the No. 1 foreign luxury car manufacturer. 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. From there, Moorehead acquired a seven-acre site in Sterling, Virginia, often referred to as the Silicon Valley of the East. 

Moorehead encountered numerous challenges and called upon the fortitude and persistence instilled in him at an early age to endure and conquer the obstacles he confronted daily. 

He built a 38,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility with two separate showrooms for the BMW and Mini Cooper brands. The Moorehead store was among the first 70 BMW dealerships in the United States selected to sell the revitalized Mini Cooper brand. 

Sales at the Moorehead facility has consistently ranked among the top 10 percent of all BMW centers in the nation, and the leader in the commonwealth of Virginia. The dealership is also among a select group of BMW Centers that has earned the coveted Quality Management Systems and Center of Excellence awards.

In 2012, Moorehead expanded his operation by building a 69,000 square foot facility across the street from the main facility exclusively for the BMW brand. This left the main facility exclusively for the Mini brand.    

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. In 2007, Moorhead was the only local minority investor/ owner in the Marriott Residence Inn at the National Harbor Resort and Convention Center, making him the first African American with ownership in a hotel at National 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 scholarships for college- bound high school seniors and emergency grants to matriculating college students, as well as assistance to working families and non-profit organizations in the region.  

Moorehead also has helped the Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation establish the Black College Football Hall of Fame to recognize the accomplishments of alumni of historically black colleges and the 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.    

Throughout Moorehead’s careers, he has served as a chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NAMAD) from 2013 to 2015. He also served on the VA Dealers Board.  Currently, Moorehead is an active member of the Black & Gold Foundation Board for Grambling State University. 

Among Moorehead’s numerous achievements are being named Washington metropolitan area Top 100 Business Award by Washington Business Journal; Best of the Best Black Business Award by Black Enterprise; National Association of Automobile Dealers nominee for Time magazine Dealer of Year award; Top 25 Minority Business Leaders by Washington Business Journal, and the Black Enterprise Dealer of the Year 2007. In 2014, 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 was also a member of the 10th District Federal Reserve Board.  Most recently, Bowie State University awarded Moorehead with their Flame of Faith Award, for service to the community and philanthropy. 

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.