About Us

The Route 66 Alliance, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and enhancement of historic Route 66 – past, present, and future.

 

The Alliance supports the efforts of organizations and people in each of the eight Route 66 states to preserve historic sites, architecture, institutions, merchants, and attractions that touch the lives of millions of people from around the world who travel the length of the historic highway. The Alliance also partners with the eight state associations to encourage tourism and economic development along the Route 66 corridor.

Many key Route 66 influences and activists have endorsed the creation of the Route 66 Alliance. Each one recognizes that the highway needs a national voice. Each also understands that everything that is preserved and protected in one of the states benefits attractions and people in all of the Mother Road states.

The Route 66 Alliance chose Tulsa, Oklahoma, as its headquarters, in part, because of the community’s commitment to its Route 66 heritage. The city is centrally located and plays an important role in the creation, development, and history of Route 66. 

Projects

While still fairly new, the Route 66 Alliance staff are reaching out and working with professionals around the country on many projects. Listed below are projects by category. 

In addition to fundraising efforts, the Alliance’s projects revolve around the promotion and enhancement of targeted businesses and communities along the entire length of the Mother Road. Several fundraising initiatives have been launched in order to employ staff and provide grant funds for specific projects. These include:

  • Partnered with the Joplin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as the co-sponsor of the Route 66 International Festival.
  • Establishing a new headquarters at the Tulsa Historical Society. In addition to the main office, a research library and archives are also under development.
  • Targeting the historic Mother Road town of Galena, Kansas, as a template for other communities to study and follow in their ongoing preservation effort. The Alliance has worked closely with Galena city officials, local businesses, and community leaders in this effort to transform Galena into a thriving and popular Route 66 attraction.

Promotion

Promotion

The Route 66 Alliance has become a major proponent of establishing Route 66 as a “green highway” by raising awareness of alternatives to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil. This effort includes:

  • Co-sponsoring a portion of “Drive to Inspire”, Mark McConville’s 1966 Pontiac GTO natural gas conversion vehicle which appears at annual automotive and highway events, including the annual Route 66 International Festival.
  • Convincing Chevrolet to display their new Volt (electric/gas) at a Route 66 International Festival.
  • Inviting Nissan representatives to display the all-electric Leaf automobile at a Route 66 International Festival.
  • Continuing to educate and inform key Route 66 influences as well as the general public about the potential of all alternative energy sources available along the highway corridor, including solar energy and wind power.

Green Highway

Green Highway

The alliance works closely with Babs Timms, a fourth grade teacher in Kansas who uses Route 66 as a basis for her lesson plans for social studies, math, and English. Her creative program can be adjusted for use at all grade levels. The Alliance is currently collecting additional curriculum to share with educators along the Route 66 corridor and beyond.

Education

Education

The Route 66 Alliance has also continued to:

  • Support and mentor Shelby Riggs of Galena, Kansas and her Young Roadies organization.
  • Establish relationships with political leaders in Washington, including key members of the US Congress and Senate, to secure federal funding for education, road improvement, and the proposed “green initiative” for Route 66.
  • Alongside preservation activist Pat Henderson of St. Louis, lobby the US Postal Service in support of a proposed Route 66 postage stamp.

Other Projects

Other Projects

Ken Busby

Executive Director & CEO

Ken Busby is the Cultural Czar of Northeast Oklahoma.  He also serves as Executive Director & CEO of the Route 66 Alliance.  Previously, he served as Executive Director & CEO of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa for twelve years.  Prior to that, Busby was the Director of Development for Tulsa Zoo Friends and was with Gilcrease Museum for eight years, serving as Membership Director and Director of Communication.  A native of Tulsa, Busby holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and French from the University of Tulsa.  He has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University at Bloomington.  A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Busby is also a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XVII.

Busby is chair of the Route 66 Commission in Tulsa, and also serves on the executive committees of the Tulsa Symphony, Workforce Tulsa, and the Oklahoma Museums Association.  He is a past chairman of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust and currently serves as governance chair.  He is the Buildings and Grounds Chair on the Holland Hall Board of Trustees.  He is a presenter for the Americans for the Arts Speakers Bureau and serves as a consultant in the areas of fundraising, grant writing, strategic planning, and board development for nonprofits across the state.  In 2008, Busby received the Governor’s Arts Award for Community Service and the Global Vision Award from Tulsa Global Alliance.  In 2011, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Holland Hall.  In 2013, the Association of Fundraising Professionals named him its Outstanding Fundraising Executive, and in 2015, Busby was named the Leadership Oklahoma Distinguished Graduate.

Staff

Ken Busby
Michael Wallis
Rick Freeland
Shannon Moudy
Dr. Kerry Joels
Rhys Martin
Ken Busby

Ken Busby

Executive Director & CEO

Ken Busby is the Cultural Czar of Northeast Oklahoma.  He also serves as Executive Director & CEO of the Route 66 Alliance.  Previously, he served as Executive Director & CEO of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa for twelve years.  Prior to that, Busby was the Director of Development for Tulsa Zoo Friends and was with Gilcrease Museum for eight years, serving as Membership Director and Director of Communication.  A native of Tulsa, Busby holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and French from the University of Tulsa.  He has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University at Bloomington.  A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Busby is also a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XVII.

Busby is chair of the Route 66 Commission in Tulsa, and also serves on the executive committees of the Tulsa Symphony, Workforce Tulsa, and the Oklahoma Museums Association.  He is a past chairman of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust and currently serves as governance chair.  He is the Buildings and Grounds Chair on the Holland Hall Board of Trustees.  He is a presenter for the Americans for the Arts Speakers Bureau and serves as a consultant in the areas of fundraising, grant writing, strategic planning, and board development for nonprofits across the state.  In 2008, Busby received the Governor’s Arts Award for Community Service and the Global Vision Award from Tulsa Global Alliance.  In 2011, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Holland Hall.  In 2013, the Association of Fundraising Professionals named him its Outstanding Fundraising Executive, and in 2015, Busby was named the Leadership Oklahoma Distinguished Graduate.

Michael Wallis

Michael Wallis

Founder

Michael Wallis is a best-selling author, award-winning reporter, historian, and biographer of the American West. He is a popular speaker and in 2006 joined an all-star cast in Pixar Studio’s animated feature film CARS as the voice of the Sheriff of Radiator Springs. The film was a celebration of Route 66 and the Sheriff has continued to direct traffic in CARS 2 and the upcoming CARS 3.

Michael has published 18 books and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times. His book Route 66: The Mother Road is credited for sparking a resurgence of interest in the historic highway. Other titles by Michael include The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate; Billy The Kid: The Endless Ride; David Crockett: The Lion of the West; and The Wild West 365.

Rick Freeland

Rick Freeland

Founder

Following a career with Computerland, where he started the retailer’s government and corporate divisions, Rick Freeland founded Voice Mail Systems, Inc. and launched the first voice mail system, replacing the “while you were out” pink notes found in millions of offices. He worked as a systems engineer for Centigram, traveling throughout the country to install and trouble-shoot large voice mail systems. Rick also assumed the leadership of a bankrupt Voice-Tel Systems franchise in Washington D.C. and converted it to a successful business serving more than 5,000 customers.

Rick’s love affair with Route 66 began years ago after a family trip along the highway. Since his first journey he has cruised the length of the eight-state corridor in his classic Corvette many times. Through his work with the Route 66 Alliance Rick has been able to support the business efforts of many people and places along the highway.

Shannon Moudy

Shannon Moudy

Chief Information Officer

Shannon Moudy is the CIO of the Route 66 Alliance.

Moudy envisions, creates and develops technology-based, multi-million dollar revenue and growth initiatives, based solidly on industry leaders best practices.  He has served as a valued member of senior executive teams and organizations such as NORDAM, Benham, Spartan Aeronautics, and Media Encounters LLC.  Founding Board Member of  Tulsa Technet.   VP of Information Security and Technology for Defense Technology Group working with Department of Justice and Department of Defense..

Designer and developer of a phone system  for numerous law offices, medical centers, government facilities (including 911 centers) and executive centers across the nation, using open-source technology in an unconventional way for success.

Shannon designed an Internet Radio Station utilizing open-source technology focused on a variety of music, community organizations, businesses and municipalities with a global listenership.

Dr. Kerry Joels

Dr. Kerry Joels

Dr. Kerry Joels

Chief Creative Officer

Dr. Joels has a background in academia and the museum world. He has been involved in creating multi-media curriculum, instructional online and video content, public exhibitions, and digital media for more than three decades.

As founding Director of the Education Division at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum he created educational programs, exhibits, a media center, a Center for Live Demonstrations, video and media programming, and launched the prototype of Air and Space Magazine.  He also headed the museum’s publication program and research program and was responsible for directing multi-million dollar museum visitor research studies including behavioral, demographic, and program effectiveness studies. He also initiated the museum’s outreach to underserved populations including multi-cultural orientation video and materials, docent training, and public outreach.

Dr. Joels designed and scripted the original Oklahoma Air and Space Museum at the Kirkpatrick Center, including the physical master plan, and has created the concept scripting for the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City.  He is curator for the Kingston Trio Legacy Project creating the concept and label scripts and media for several traveling Trio exhibitions and units in Paris, Liverpool, the Woody Guthrie Center, the American Banjo Museum and the Grammy Museum. He completed a mini-exhibit for the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in South Carolina about Joe’s legacy and impact on popular culture in Fall, 2014. In 2019 Dr. Joels scripted, designed and supervised creation of the Apollo 50th Anniversary exhibit at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.

Rhys Martin

Rhys Martin

Rhys Martin is an author and photographer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. His love of travel was born in 2009 when he sold all of his possessions and left the country. For ten months, he lived out of a backpack and explored southeast Asia and Europe.
After returning home, Rhys looked at his home state with fresh eyes. When he began to explore the back roads of Oklahoma, he quickly understood the significance of historic Route 66 to the greater American story. He has traveled all 2,448 miles of the Mother Road and continues to explore the quiet Main Streets of the Midwest.
Rhys’s travel writing and photography has been featured in several publications including TulsaPeople Magazine, This Land Press, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. His most recent project with Arcadia Publishing is a book that tells the story of the Lost Restaurants of Tulsa from the 1930s to the 1980s.
Rhys is also on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, serves on the Tulsa Route 66 Commission, and is an adviser for the Route 66 Alliance. He loves to connect with people and share his experiences.

Charter Partners

Warren Ross

President Ross Group

Ken Brune ESQ

Brune Lawfirm

Tesla is a natural for Tulsa!

Once the oil capitol of the world, Tulsa has embraced new kinds of energy, including electricity and wind.

As of 2020, Oklahoma has more fast chargers for electric cars per capita geographically spread throughout the state than any other state.

Francis Solar, headquartered in Tulsa, is the leader in installing fast chargers throughout the region.  EV owners can find a charging station within 50 miles of their vehicle anywhere in the state.

American Electric Power/Public Service Company of Oklahoma is a strong believer in alternative energy and spends millions of dollars each year researching various ways to generate electricity.  They are also a very strong community partner, supporting STEM and other educational initiatives.

Tulsa was home to Cyrus Avery.  Like Elon Musk, Avery was a pioneer – donating the land to create Tulsa’s first Municipal Airport so that this growing city would attract business and commerce – and identifying a direct source for clean water (Spavinaw Lake) so that Tulsa would be a healthy city.

Avery was also known as the Father of Route 66.  Tulsa is the capital of Route 66, where East meets West, thanks to Mr. Avery, who in 1926 convinced the federal highway department that Tulsa, with the first concrete and steel-reinforced bridge crossing the Arkansas River anywhere in the United States (built in 1917), was the “safe” way for these automobiles to travel from Chicago to Santa Monica.  The federal highway department agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Oklahoma has 410 navigable miles of Historic Route 66 crossing the state, the most of any of the eight states through which Route 66 passes.

Imagine driving a Tesla on Historic Route 66 – crisscrossing Oklahoma, visiting charming towns full of history, and exploring a western and Native American heritage unlike any other.

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