Akoua Enow - Cheif Operating Officer
Growing up, I always had a burning desire to live and work abroad in Africa. When I finished college, I applied for the Peace Corps Master’s International Program. For two semesters, I took graduate classes and in June 2007, I boarded my flight to Lesotho, Southern Africa to start my service. I sent emails to family and friends telling my experiences to maintain ties with home and fulfill the the third goal of Peace Corps. My stories and a visit from my parents and brother sparked a sense of community among my American and Basotho families.
My uncle approached me about raising money for Maluti Adventist Hospital, my host organization. He planned to host a bike ride and give 100% of the donations to the hospital. Matt asked me to collaborate with the hospital administration to identify a need. In partnership, we decided to buy adult and pediatric beds for the patients. And that’s how the organization got its name — Bike4Beds.
Now, I support the Bike4Beds as a “cyclist” and the Chief Operating Officer. The group rides are a great excuse to have fun while also fulfilling my passion to uplift humanity. Khotso, Pula, Nala!
Alarice Cesareo Lonergan - Chief Marketing Officer
In her role as CMO, Alarice seeks to create awareness and support for Bike4Beds by promoting and advertising the achievements and benefits of the organization.
Alarice’s journey to Bike4Beds started at the early age of 5, but she didn’t know it then. Alarice could be found riding laps around the block on her hot pink and white Huffy bicycle with her friends and family (yes, you know you had one too, thought maybe not in pink). Her first ride for Bike4Beds was the year of the organization’s formation in 2010, alongside her friends and family. This first ride was especially important given we rode to support the hospital that her sister-in-law volunteered at in Lesotho. One of the most memorable rides was biking 50 miles through the Pennsylvania valley alongside her husband, and best friends on a treacherous ride up and down the hills and valleys. For Alarice, Bike4Beds has always been about the people she gets to share the road with and the people that each ride supports.
She is also an active member of W.O.M.E.N. in America, a professional development group aimed at advancing promising professional women with exclusive mentoring, education and networking in a three year program. She looks forward to giving back to the community in her role as CMO of Bike4Beds.
Jessica Ritz - Chief Content Officer
Jessica participated in her first Bike4Beds event in the Fall of 2008. It was a rousing adventure, watching friends and family break out of their comfort zones to bike further for the cause. Although everyone contributed with different skills and abilities, each individual went the extra mile to make the day a success. We were able to provide much needed beds for the patients at the Maluti Aventist Hospital. The positive energy generated from that event radiated well beyond the finish line; keeping Jessica excited for the next opportunity to participate and give. It wasn’t long before she realized that she wanted to help the Bike4Beds community grow and make a significant impact in more lives.
Despite studying Poetry at The University of Pittsburgh, Jessica went in a different direction after college with a job in IT Sales with 1&1 Internet. As the CCO of Bike4Beds, she combines her growing knowledge of web hosting, SEO and online success with her love for creative writing. Her long term goal is to communicate the unique story and vision of Bike4Beds to help the organization flourish. Her short term goal is not to fall off of her bike at the Spring 2014 event. She and Joe, the CFO, met in college and are now Bike4Beds’ sweethearts. They live in the Greater Northeast of Philadelphia and enjoy slow pitch softball, the Phighting Phils and trying out local microbreweries.
Joe Kuriger - Volunteer
Joe’s journey with Bike4Beds began in 2011 when he joined his (now) wife Jessi at a family charity event. Far from a biker, and let alone a cycling enthusiast, he had no idea how one ill-conceived attempt to ride 50 miles on a mountain bike would change his life. Not long after that fateful first ride, Joe was actively training for the bi-annual events and had even purchased his own street bike.
Beyond participation over the years, Joe learned a great deal about Bike4Beds; not only their story, but their mission to supply much needed humanitarian aid through the power of community-based events.
After the 2013 Fall Event, Joe decided to up his contribution to the cause, volunteering to help the biking events run smoothly.
When not working with Bike4Beds, Joe manages strategy and execution for his company's financial advisor development program. In addition to being an avid cyclist, Joe enjoys playing golf and skiing. He lives in Cheltenham, PA with his wife in the house they purchased together in 2013.
Komlan Lonergan - Chief Program Officer
As CPO, Komlan seeks to identify organizations with products or services that align with our core mission and values. He also initiates, manages, and fosters partnerships with these organizations.
Komlan's journey to Bike4Beds started in 2009, when he visited his sister, Akoua, during her Peace Corps Mission in Lesotho. He witnessed the dearth of the patient beds at the Maluti Hospital that inspired the first B4B's 100 mile bike ride fundraiser. To honor Akoua's mission, Komlan published the weekly newsletters she composed during her mission. The memoir, The Mapheleng Sunrise, is available on Lulu.com for your reading pleasure.
Komlan holds a BA in Government from the College of William and Mary and MS in Global Affairs from New York University. His professional experience includes project management and capacity building for global NGOs.
Komlan's photo captures an intense AND memorable moment during a White Nile whitewater rafting excursion in Uganda.
Lewis Ritz - Chief Technical Officer
Bob O'Connor - Board Member
Bob O'Connor has been helping Bike4Beds since its inception in 2008. He provides chase-car support for bikers who need timely sustenance and respite, a tire puncture repaired, vigorous moral encouragement, or a guiding light in the dark. He also retrieves marker signs with a high rate of success - only one group of bikers lost during all our events! And even they were eventually found!
Bob is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa, 1977-79 where he worked in rural development in the Animal Traction program --promoting harnessed cattle for cultivation and harvesting among subsistence-level farmers. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a BA and from Columbia University with an MA. He now works as an administrator at Barnard College, Columbia University. He has been married to his lovely wife Magalie since 1986 and is the father of two grown sons. He enjoys hot-air ballooning (see pic!) and is an aspiring Pacific Ocean cliff diver.
Don Lonergan - Board Memeber
Don, who has never shied away from a good time pursued a volunteer position in the Peace Corps. Embracing the Corp's mantra, Don's cup was always more than half full (of beer). After a 2 year stint building schools and dispensaries in Togo, West Africa he set out on an extended sojourn through Central and East Africa and ultimately ending up in Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa working as a Landscape Architect. Unable to cope with the inequities of life under the Apartheid law he returned home to the U.S. to begin a family with his Togolese sweetheart, Kossiwa. Kossiwa emigrated to the U.S. in 1982 with their son Komlan. Two years later a daughter, Akoua, joined the mix completing the quintessential American family with its strong African roots. In 1986, with some strong Lonergan family support, Don started his own design/build landscape construction business. Now, 28 successful years later Lehigh Valley Landscape is still transforming landscapes throughout eastern Pennsylvania. Don enjoys traveling, visiting friends and family members, playing volleyball, brewing beer, and flying over the Sahara Dessert on Google Earth.
Jay Boyle - Board Member
Matt Ritz - CEO & Board Chairman
For Matt Ritz, the experience of nature and the joy of the moment is a very important part of life. He spends his free time biking, running, snowboarding and hiking; indulging in the outdoors and maintaining and active lifestyle. A few years ago, Matt found a way to bring these exhilarating activities and pleasant, scenic rides to others by creating the Bike4Beds organization.
The first bike ride for charity took root during the fall of 2008 when Matt’s niece Akoua joined the Peace Corps in Lesotho to combat the AIDS proliferation in that area. Akoua made her extended family aware of the need for assistance for the hospital where she was stationed. She sent pictures of the subpar condition of the hospital beds available to patients. Matt was plotting a 100-mile ride through New Jersey's most serene landscapes. Akoua and Matt decided to use the ride to the shore to raise funds for new beds for the patients. The bikers travel from quaint Jersey towns to the salty sea air on quiet back roads and all the proceeds go towards a great cause. Seven years later, the initiative is still going strong; currently benefiting the students of the Cavaillon Orphanage in Southern Haiti The route navigates cyclists along winding rivers, serene lakes and ponds; tidy vegetable farms, pine wood forests, refreshing bays, pastel painted seaside homes and finally the Atlantic Ocean. Matt envisioned using this ride to Wildwood as a charity bike ride to raise funds for the Maluti Aventist hospital. The bikers travel from quant Jersey towns through lush countryside to the salty sea air on quiet back roads and all the proceeds go towards a great cause. This is how Bike4Beds got its start. Eight years later, the initiative is still going strong; currently benefiting the students of the Cavaillon Orphanage in Southern Haiti.