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AVA President, David Bonewitz

AVA: America’s Walking Club

I was honored to have been asked by a number of people to run for president of AVA.  I provided some of my background in the article in the February/March 2017 issue of TAW.  This web page is intended to provide those interested with a bit more of my background and philosophy.


AVA and Volksmarching Background

Began volksmarching with my family in 1988.

Just completed my 425th event (including events in Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, and Germany),

Walked 4,460+ km, and

Completed the 50 State program and working on the 51 Capitols.

Life Member of AVA

Certified Trail Master

Southeast Region Director 2013-Present

Led the highly successful “Time to Walk” National Event,

Chaired Strategic Planning Committee, and

In both cases, took a program from nothing to success in a timely and efficient manner.

One of the four founders of East Tennessee Wanderers

Club President and Trail Master for 7 years,

Conducted two activities a month including 2 -3 Traditional Events per year,

Started 12 YREs during that 7 years, and

Contributed to growth of the club from the original 4 to around 90 today.

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Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1972

Masters of Science in Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, 1978

Masters of Science (Computer Science), Johns Hopkins University, 1983

PhD, Texas A&M, 1986

Professional Certifications

USAF Certified Acquisition Professional, Program Management,    Level I, 1995

USAF Certified Acquisition Professional, Systems Planning, Research, Development, and Engineering, Level I, 1995

Homebuyer Education Trainer, Tennessee Housing Development Agency

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Professional Background Summary

United States Air Force

Retired as a Colonel following a 26-year career,

Commanded two squadrons,

DoD Representative to the Joint System Program Office that developed the national Doppler Weather Radar network,

Military Advisor for Aviation Weather (FAA), and

Chief, Plans Division, Directorate of Weather, Deputy Chief of Staff (Air & Space Operations), Headquarters USAF.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Maryville College, Maryville, TN, 2000-2003

Employed as Family Services Director, Blount County Habitat for Humanity, for 12 years.

Experience in the non-profit world including participating in monthly board meetings.

Served on the Board of Directors of a small national non-profit, including one term as board president.

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Philosophy on Leadership

Leadership is not about having all the answers.  The truth is I know that I don’t have all the answers to what AVA needs to do to have a bright future. 

Leadership is having a vision, then inspiring a team to work together to achieve that vision.  During my time in the Air Force and with Habitat I have been able to hone my leadership skills.  We achieve the desired result by communicating, providing support to the folks who are working the issues, and providing needed motivation.  All this is coupled with the need for a true leader to accept responsibility to make ethical decisions while being results oriented. 

The best example of my leadership skills in the context of AVA has been my work on the NEC and, in particular, the success of the Strategic Planning Committee.  The Committee was able to develop a strong plan which we were able to sell to the National Executive Council.  We are now making great progress in implementing portions of the Strategic Plan.

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Focus on AVA Issues

I am not going to try and make a list of all the things that need to be done to put AVA on track for a bright future.  As I have indicated, the role of a leader is not to be dictating the details, but to encourage those with good ideas to work together to implement those ideas.  However, there are some areas (not in any particular priority order) that I think we certainly need to address.

First, we are an association of clubs.  We cannot forget that fact.  We are not like the typical non-profit corporation.  However, like any successful non-profit, it is critical that we focus the NEC (likely with the new identification as Board of Directors) to the strategic level and allow the Executive Director (who we pay) to oversee the day-to-day “tactical” issues.  Today the NEC spends too much time discussing details about how something should work (the implementation details) rather than focusing on the program or policy (the big picture or strategic focus).  We have started changing our focus as we work to implement the Strategic Plan, but more can be done with careful leadership.

Second, I believe that everyone who is a member of a local club (chartered by AVA) is a “member” of AVA.  We need to develop that into a system of tiered membership with appropriate benefits based on level of membership.  This will require some changes, but will go a long way to providing a better picture of the impact AVA has on the local community.

Third, I believe that we need to look at a tiered level of clubs.  We have some very big clubs, some not so big, and some with only a couple of members.  How we support these clubs and how these clubs function under the big tent known as AVA is something that we need to examine.  Our founding fathers had to address a similar problem with states of differing populations.  While I don’t think what we are dealing with is as complex as getting a Constitution approved, I do think it is an area that we need to examine and address.

Fourth, we need to focus on gathering the data that is essential to be able to successfully compete for grants and donations from the public.  We will need to mine the data that we do have.  Then going forward, we must ensure that we obtain data that demonstrates our value to both individuals and our community.  Both of these areas will require a team effort with support from the clubs and work at the national headquarters.

Fifth, we must continue to work on how to deal with the “free walker” issue.  Frankly, I come down strongly on both sides of this fence, which is rather painful.  I know there must be a solution that allows us to fulfill our mandate as a 501(c)3 while still bringing balance into the “free/credit” walker dilemma , and I will be open to discussion and generation of a solution that is acceptable to all.  Here is a case where there will likely not be a perfect solution, but we don’t need it to be perfect if we can find an approach that is “good enough.”

Sixth, we must increase support for our clubs from the national level.  The clubs are the foundation of AVA.  They are AVA.  From the national level, we must find ways that we can help the current clubs grow as well as develop new clubs.  We have made a good start with the implementation of the Strategic Plan.  The national committees (Publicity, Membership, National Programs, and Programs) are all a step in the right direction.  It is essential that we continue to move in this direction.

OK, there are six areas or issues where I believe we need to put our energy.  You will note that I didn’t indicate how we should execute a solution to these areas.  In my mind that would potentially block out the better solutions that someone out there in AVA land might have.  We have a Vision.  We can find answers to our “problems.”  I value your ideas and encourage you to communicate with me (spc4ava@gmail.com) to discuss these (and other) issues.  We are America’s Walking Club, and working together we will have a bright future.

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I have stated a number of times that I am not a politician.  However, I do recognize that running for office is a political process.  I value the expressions of support from those who pushed me to run and for those who have expressed support following the announcement of my candidacy.  I recognize that there are expenses involved in running for office.  I am willing to absorb those expenses the best I can, but am willing to accept any donations that clubs or state organizations might be willing to make.  The following is what is stated in the AVA ByLaws.

“5.6(h) Contributions from a member club or state organization to a candidate for National Office shall be limited to $200.00 or ten percent of the club’s gross income for the year, whichever is less.  Monies contributed to an individual’s campaign for election may be used only for that purpose once the campaign is completed all remaining campaign funds must be returned to the contributing club or clubs or given to an organization that has IRS 501(c)(3) status.”

Any donations under these rules should be sent to the following address:

Campaign Treasurer

(David won! Address removed.)

We will be sure that you receive acknowledgment of your donation.  Following the campaign, we will provide an accounting of all funds received and expended.  Unless otherwise requested, any excess funds will be donated to AVA.

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Thanks for your votes for David Bonewitz!!!


UPDATE:  David served as AVA President for four years until the summer of 2021.

Updated 09/18/21

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