Goodwill Ambassadors

In 2011, District 17 established a Goodwill Committee and Charter to recognize D17 members in good standing who exemplify congeniality and ethical behavior. 

Committee members subscribe to the ACBL Goodwill slogan, “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.”

The ACBL Goodwill Committee was organized in 1955.  In 2010, the Committee was renamed the Aileen Osofsky ACBL Goodwill Committee in appreciation for her 25 years of service as chair.  

Congratulations D17 Goodwill Ambassadors 2021

Jim Utter

Jim Utter
Mesa Unit 351 Nominated by Lakin Hines

Jim Utter has served as the president of the Sun Lakes Duplicate Bridge Club since 2011. During his first four years as president, club membership grew from about 300 to about 440 and the annual number of game entry fees collected increased by 25%.

Jim was instrumental in acquiring an electronic scoring system, an automatic dealing machine, special cards and additional equipment needed for operation.

He has also improved club communications. Jim led the initiative to create the new Sun Lakes Duplicate Bridge Club website, and reports club news to membership as needed four to five times a month.

Motivated to help others improve their games, Jim wants all players to enjoy bridge as much as he does.

Jim is very dedicated and cares for all board and club members. He will make a great goodwill ambassador and is someone to emulate.

Murali Nair

Murali Nair
Phoenix Unit 354 Nominated by JoAnne Lowe

Murali Nair, a former Unit 354 and D17 board member, is a technology expert who sets up and runs A/V equipment to display unit tournament information. He provides PowerPoint presentations at club/unit meetings and he is the D17 Facebook Administrator. Murali is an accredited bridge teacher and director. He is currently using RealBridge Software to teach bridge to his daughter and her friends who live in India. Murali is ethical and honest and he is an asset to Unit 354 and to the bridge community.

Gary Millam

Gary Millam
Flagstaff Unit 355 Nominated by Bill Phillips

Gary has single-handedly operated the Flagstaff Duplicate Bridge Club for many years. He does it all: arranges for a venue, sets up and takes down the tables and chairs, directs the game, serves as a liaison with the ACBL, provides bridge supplies, keeps in touch with players and attends to everything involved in operating a bridge club.

His work is a valuable service to the Flagstaff community. He keeps the game running during the winter to give the town residents an opportunity to continue playing duplicate. In the summer, the participation expands because of the influx of people who spend their summers in Flagstaff, which makes running the games quite a challenge.

Gary is also a talented dancer. He contributes to the community by offering tango lessons and serving as a judge at dance contests.

Barry Abrahams

Barry Abrahams
Tucson Unit 356 Nominated by Steve Reynolds

Barry Abrahams had the typical start in bridge. He was first exposed to it in 1963 but work interfered and it wasn’t until he retired in 1999 that it resumed its true place in his life.

While in Tucson, Barry started playing at the Adobe and Las Candelas clubs and then became involved with ACBL Unit 356 where he served as tournament chair and then as unit president. Barry did a marvelous job making being on the board a fun productive experience for everyone lucky enough to serve with him.

After leaving the unit board, Barry helped merge the Las Candelas Bridge Club with the Adobe Bridge Club and worked to purchase the former Las Candelas Banquet Hall and associated property. This is now the permanent home for the Adobe Bridge Center.

Subsequently, Barry was elected to the Adode Board and was instrumental in creating a financially sound business plan. He then took on the daunting task of having the club granted 501(c)(3) status as a tax exempt entity which required an unbelievable amount of paperwork and research.

His selfless dedication and untold hours of volunteer work has made the bridge scene in Tucson what it is today. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all of his hard work on our behalf.

Barbara Starrett

Barbara Starrett
Tucson Unit 356 Nominated by Cindy Shoemaker

After taking beginner bridge lessons, Dr. Barbara Starrett and colleague Dr. Joyce Honorof realized a need for organized duplicate bridge games for new players living north of Tucson, AZ. Barbara borrowed equipment, became an ACBL director and started Small Slams Club, an ACBL sanctioned invitational club for 749ers located in SaddleBrooke, AZ. Barbara orchestrated and financed the equipment for Small Slams and became a director before she had earned 10 masterpoints!

“A visionary and caring individual, Barbara is willing to do what it takes to make the club successful and continue to grow,” said Carl Travor, friend and Unit 356 member.

Barbara also supports the Northwest Tucson Bridge Club (NWTC) serving as a face-to- face and virtual club director.

“During COVID, Barbara volunteered to be trained as an online director for our virtual club,” said Bonnie Hertzog, NWTC director and Unit 356 board member. “She has made herself available to direct weekly, and cheerfully assists other directors. She attends Virtual Club Roundtable meetings and brings new information about BBO/ACBL changes to our attention.

She provides clear and insightful comments at our director meetings, and she sends helpful emails. Her persistence in solving problems and her humor have helped all of us survive and thrive during this crazy year.”

Since retirement, Barbara has tirelessly served her community as president of the SaddleBrooke Freethinkers and as a member of the Gays, Lesbians and Allies at SaddleBrooke. Barbara also conducts compression-only CPR classes and is the chairperson of the Safety Recreation Committee for HOA 1 in SaddleBrooke.

Barbara credits her mother-in-law Syrile Ellison for encouraging her and wife Jo Ann Ellison to learn the game of bridge.

Christopher Dorton

Chris Dorton
Boulder Unit 359 Nominated by Sharon Smith

Chris is an inspirational bridge advocate! His passion is for bridge and creating a fun learning environment. Chris has taught classes for Maggie’s Bridge Club since completing the TAP course in 2015. Since covid, he has taken the courses online and reached dozens of new bridge players. The courses he has promoted with his wife, Brenda Alberico, and Bob Hinderholtz are extremely well received. Chris seeks feedback and constantly improves the delivery, scope and content. He has promoted games for the newer players and fostered partnerships and camaraderie among the players. All of his time is voluntary and class proceeds benefit Summit County Seniors.

Chris’s philosophy is simple, MAKE IT FUN! People come to bridge classes for many reasons, but a key is social interaction and meeting new people. Chris wants students to be a better BRIDGE PLAYERS regardless of their prior bridge knowledge.

Maggie’s Bridge Club in Summit County is smack in the middle of Skiers Heaven. He has created a series of classes with a skiing theme: Bunny Slope, Green Slope, Blue Slope and Black Slope. Players can quickly gauge the class level that is appropriate for them.

A recent student wrote, “The game of bridge is a fun time that I hope to enjoy well into my 90’s if at all possible. You have given me a great gift!”

District 17 is fortunate to have Chris in our midst. We can all learn from his actions!

Ed Texel

Ed Texel
Colorado Springs Unit 360 Nominated by John Grossmann

Some units in District 17 own facilities and for these units a key position is building manager. Ed Texel has been the “facility guy” for more than a decade in Colorado Springs. It’s a lot of fun climbing ladders, moving office equipment, supervising construction, finding plumbers and electricians, building tournament stanchions and answering lots of player questions. In Colorado Springs, with a 44-year-old building, I think building manager is a bigger job than any other administrative post. I used to be the building manager in the Springs and I talked Ed into taking over when I was elected to the Unit 360 board. Ed has done an admirable job.

Ed has been a bridge player for decades and a fixture on the tournament trail.

He is a wonderful ambassador for our game with a smooth temperament and dry sense of humor. You want Ed on your team! Bridge is more fun with Ed at the table.

Ed Yosses

Ed Yosses
Denver Unit 361 Nominated by Jennifer O’Neill

Ed Yosses learned about a game called bridge from his parents at a very early age. While in college during the late 1960s, he and Barb, girlfriend and wife, learned the basics of the game from friends. They started playing duplicate in the early 1970s and became ACBL members in the mid-1970s.

Ed continued playing duplicate in Toledo, OH, and then in Fort Collins when he moved to Colorado in 1999.

He was active in the Fort Collins Unit 363, holding both treasurer and president offices until moving to Denver in 2014. Additionally, Ed has served as District 17 treasurer and is currently treasurer of Unit 361.

He has actively mentored many novice bridge players over the years and was teaching weekly beginner bridge classes to a group in his neighborhood until COVID interfered last March.

Bridge has been a lifelong passion for Ed. He reads on a daily basis and has a very large collection of bridge books. He is a Gold Life Master.

Chris Hahn

Chris Hahn
Las Vegas Unit 373 Nominated by Elizabeth Hamilton

Chris is one of those people, that when your paths cross, there is always a smile involved. He has a natural charm and a passion for bridge that combined make everyone at ease whether you are playing as his partner, team-mate or opponent. Chris has served as the treasurer of Unit 373 and as the treasurer of the 2019 Las Vegas NABC. He was also a key member of the team who staffed the I/N Partnership & Help Desk in 2019. He has already volunteered to be part of the team in 2024!

Chris is a certified ACBL teacher. He completed TAP and the Best Practices Workshop. He is committed to providing an excellent learning experience for his students. Chris teaches with his partner Toby McEvoy and together, they are building a strong foundation of players who will help Las Vegas rebuild when face-to-face bridge takes off again in our area. Chris donates his time to his students; not just during scheduled lessons but he makes himself available as a partner in club games and tournaments. His students never feel unsupported after the class is over and that makes their transition to competitive duplicate bridge competitions smoother.

Chris is a man of many talents. He manages to fit all these bridge activities in while still working full-time as a pharmacy technician, specializing in procurement. He is a classically trained singer and performs in many local productions around town. Las Vegas is extremely fortunate to have him in our bridge community.

D17 Goodwill Ambassadors 2020​

Ashley Erwin

Ashley Erwin
El Paso Unit 159 Nominated by Steve Nordberg
Although Ashley is fairly new to the bridge scene, he has stepped in to help where and when needed, serving on the local board and chairing tournaments. As president, he has handled routine and problem issues with equal enthusiasm. Setting up unit emails for club news and other information such as traffic alerts has enhanced our club experience. He has established rapport with the Las Cruces Unit and shares their information. Of equal note, his research has enabled us to have additional unit championships so that we all have a chance to earn more points. He was also instrumental in establishing a Saturday 299’er game to stimulate interest for newer players. More importantly, he is a “friendly fellow” and willingly plays with all players regardless of rank. Criticism is not in his vocabulary.

Eileen Utter

Eileen Utter
Mesa Unit 351 Nominated by Lakin Hines
Eileen is friendly and hard working and strives to help others improve and enjoy the game. Eileen has been the coordinator of the Unit 351 novice/mentor program since 2006. As the coordinator, Eileen receives applications filled out by novices and then pairs each with a suitable mentor. She takes her duties seriously and strives to fill all requests with qualified mentors. For several years, Eileen has dedicated herself to assisting with partnership requests for the Sun Lakes Duplicate Bridge Club. In 2011, she was elected to the Unit 351 board and served as president from 2013 to 2015. Eileen is someone to emulate.

Anne Marie Harrington

Anne Marie Harrington
Phoenix Unit 354 Nominated by JoAnne Lowe
Anne Marie was an active Unit 354 board member for at least nine years. During that period, she was our partnership chairperson for all tournaments and a co-sponsor of our mentoring program. Between working the partnership desk and playing almost daily she knows most of the newer, local Scottsdale players. She encourages and puts new players at ease. At the bridge table, she smiles and greets both friends and opponents. Her love of bridge and people are evident. Anne Marie is an excellent ambassador for bridge.

Joe Green

Northern AZ Unit 355 Nominated by Bill Phillips

Joe has been a bridge player for many years, partnering with accomplished players and making his way to Silver Life Master through successful tournament and club play. Several years ago, he and his wife relocated from Flagstaff to Sedona, AZ. He now plays in nearly every session at the Sedona Bridge Center. Since that move he has devoted himself to partnering with less experienced players, serving as a gentle mentor and helping many individuals earn masterpoints. He is a treasured member of the Sedona Bridge Center who brings much joy and pleasure to all.

Joyce Honorof

Joyce Honorof

Tucson Unit 356 Nominated by Steve Reynolds

Four years ago, Joyce retired from her professional practice as an internist. She discovered bridge which excited and captivated her. After some beginner lessons, Joyce and her colleague, Barbara Starrett, realized the need for organized duplicate bridge games for new players living north of Tucson. They borrowed equipment, practiced ACBLscore, became ACBL directors and started the Small Slams Bridge Club, an ACBL sanctioned invitational club for 749’ers in SaddleBrooke, AZ. Joyce, although a new player herself, became an ACBL Certified Bridge Teacher and focused on teaching beginners.

After the Bridge Center of Greater Tucson closed, Joyce joined a steering committee to continue playing options in north Tucson and the Northwest Tucson Bridge Club was born.

Joyce remains an active volunteer director in both Small Slams Bridge Club and the Northwest Tucson Bridge Club, and is now a Virtual BBO director as well. Most importantly, she continues to be an avid player and ambassador of encouragement for anyone wanting to share in this invigorating experience we call bridge. Joyce is enthusiastic, positive and dedicated to bringing people to the game. “Joyce is the glue of the bridge community in Tucson,” stated a local player. “She is an outstanding ambassador for bridge.”

Elly Larson

Ellie Larson

Denver Unit 361 Nominated by Jennifer O’Neill

I have nominated Elly because she has done so much for our Denver bridge community. Elly is supportive of newer players and supports the unit by hosting numerous events.

Since the stay at home orders began, Elly is running online games for local clubs.

She has bent over backwards to accommodate all the requests for help in using BBO and has adjusted her schedule based on requests from members.

Elly began playing bridge in college but got hooked on duplicate after a friend asked her to try it and they won five MPs.

After taking over a failing club in 2017, she revived the club with a zero-tolerance policy.

Elly considers running the bridge club a hobby, not work.

In her limited free time, Elly spends it with her husband, Eric, and in-town granddaughter. She is a great cook and is generous in giving out her recipes.

Toby McEvoy

Las Vegas Unit 373 Nominated by Liz Hamilton

Toby is playing a key role in building the foundation for the future of duplicate bridge in Las Vegas and deserves recognition for his outstanding efforts.

Toby McEvoy is a certified ACBL teacher having completed TAP and the Best Practices programs. He is a member of the ABTA and planned to take the ACBL director’s course at the Spring 2020 NABC which was canceled due to COVID-19. He plans to do so at the first possible opportunity. He will be an excellent director.

The 2019 NABC was held in Las Vegas Nevada and Toby served on the tournament committee for three years. He attended meetings with the hotel and assisted with many other tournament decisions. His key role was as the I/N chair. He put together an outstanding team of volunteers to make sure the I/N Help Desk and Partnership Desk were friendly services that helped newer players enjoy the tournament. Player feedback was excellent. Toby took personal leave from his full time job in the IT industry to be present at the tournament each day.

Toby and his partner Christopher Hahn have established a teaching program for local I/N players. They offer classes at no cost to students and organize duplicate games with other unit players on the weekends. This gets their students comfortable at the bridge table and well prepared to play in local club games and tournaments. Many have become ACBL members.

Toby is also a talented musician and musical director. He has directed critically acclaimed shows at Spring Mountain Ranch, The Vegas Little Theatre and Faith Lutheran High School.

Gene Covington

Gene Covington
Santa Fe Unit 383 Nominated by Felicity Moore
Gene exemplifies the qualities for which District 17 established the Goodwill Committee. He is always pleasant. Gene played bridge in college at the student union. After graduation, he played socially, but his best friend was a life master who helped him learn real bridge. At one point, Gene and his partner owned a floral shop in Atlanta, Georgia; they were one of five florists for the 1996 Olympics. Later he had a long career in the oil and gas business, mostly in Dallas, but humidity was not his friend. He then moved to Santa Fe, where the bridge club’s education programs were a special attraction. When he started playing open games at the local clubs, he began wearing unusual hats, and he always makes a particular point of creating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere at the table. “I have offered to help mentor and play with people starting out and I have SO many great friends who are dependable and treat me with kindness,” says Gene. “It is indeed an honor that they have given me. Simple kindness is in my DNA.”

Charles Wilkins

Charles Wilkins
Santa Fe Unit 383 Nominated by Cindy Shoemaker
Charlie recognizes that bridge is a game of social interactions where lasting friendships are made. “At club games and bridge events,” states Charlie, “I notice players happily milling around, chatting with each other, and obviously looking forward to the game. I knew that losers would outnumber winners by 10 to one or more, so it was clear to me that the social and friendship aspects of the game are very important” Charlie keeps the atmosphere at the table friendly and pleasant and subscribes to the Aileen Osofsky ACBL Goodwill Committee slogan — “It is nice to be important, but more important to be nice” Charlie has been the Santa Fe Unit 383 president since 2019. While he always likes to find the least expensive yet effective way to carrying out any task, he strives to make all activities as enjoyable as possible for all players. Expanding the definition of goodwill during these unprecedented times, Charlie has been instrumental in bringing online bridge to Santa Fe — keeping players engaged and in the game. At present, Santa Fe offers ACBL virtual club games during every one of its traditional F2F time slots. I have had the pleasure of meeting with Charlie on several occasions. It was apparent early on that he is committed to moving bridge forward. He is a big picture thinker who values players, education and the need to maintain and enhance communication.

Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith
Laramie Unit 422 Nominated by John Grossmann
Sharon brings a high level of energy and enthusiasm to duplicate bridge, supports the players and enhances her bridge community. Sharon moved to Steamboat Springs, CO in 1994 and helped Elaine Gilbertson restart a local bridge club. Soon she became active in local club operations as a director. In 2018, Sharon organized a highly successful 18 table Learn Bridge in a Day class held at a community center. She is also developing online bridge classes through a local college. When the covid pandemic hit Colorado, Sharon made a compelling case to BBO about pioneering a virtual club game in a rural setting. Not just one session, but three well- attended sessions a week of virtual bridge. Sharon is extremely pleasant and a wonderful ambassador for our game, all from a person who skis, bikes, hikes, snowshoes and golfs in her beloved Steamboat.