2003 President’s Final Comments


Board business - Board committees and appointments of chairs and members


I called or e-mailed every Board member and obtained their preferences for committee assignments.  In almost every case I honored their preferences.  I arranged the committee schedule to accommodate these assignments, which had some minor difficulties given our 3-day schedule.  Some conflicts where inevitable.


I believe that assignments should be made on (1) desire to serve, (2) knowledge and (3) experience…in that order.  Desire to serve will bring the best out of the committee members, and knowledge and expertise will produce the best results…obviously.  For the most part, the best financial people were on Finance; the best bridge people were on Bridge, etc.


I obtained input from past presidents including ex-board members.  Committee chairs, once selected gave input on their co-chair and sub-committee chairs.


Committee chairs were selected based on four factors: (1) knowledge in the area, (2) ability to conduct professional and efficient committee meetings and committee business on the floor of the board, (3) capability to easily communicate electronically so that some committee business could be conducted efficiently and effectively before each Board meeting, and (4) expectation to be a take-charge and proactive chair.


The members of the Appeals & Charges committee were chosen by politics.  The members had to have varied views and politics regarding disciplinary matters.  For this committee I did not ask the chair for recommendations as that might lead to stacking the committee.


My assessment of the committee chairs:

Finance.  Richard, new as a chair of Finance, was acclaimed for his masterful job.  The Finance committee’s performance was outstanding and changed the way we allocate funds.  This resulted in lower tournament fees and annual dues that would otherwise be required for a balanced budget.


Bridge.  Joan did her usually excellent job.  She epitomizes my previous description of a good chair.  Bridge had much on its plate and prepared ahead, except for the Fall meeting due to the closeness of our Board meeting and the World Championships in Monaco.


Governance.  Sue did an outstanding job.  As a first time chair she went overboard in preparation and commitment to doing a good job.


Appeals & Charges.  Virgil was an obvious choice as a fair minded and expert chair.  Virgil’s health precluded him from attending two meetings and his replacement, Jonathan, did an outstanding job.  Many who observed the committee’s performance rated Jonathan’s dedication and performance as excellent.


Marketing.  Bruce desired a change from bridge and accepted the position of chair of Marketing with enthusiasm.  His committee helped shape and critique some excellent Marketing reports put out by management.


International and Zonal Affairs.  Dan’s experience in this area proved valuable and their business was conducted effectively.


Audit & CEO Review:  Chuck’s expertise in these areas led to the committees performing up to par.  CEO review put out an outstanding document for future evaluation.  Audit uncovered and corrected some important problems, serving us well as a watchdog for our internal affairs.


Appeals.  Given the recent notorious cases in Appeals, the best possible team was put together.  This was a do-or-die year as the future of Appeals was on the line.  As Director of Appeals, Joan was low key as the Director should be, and greatly effective.  The selection of Barry Rigal as chair was a find.  The two, working with Rich Colker, did an outstanding job and were applauded for their efforts and success.


Seeding.  Nadine and Bruce did a fine job.  It is difficult to access the productivity of seeding, but there were few complaints, which indicated great success.


Bylaws.  The committee headed by Nadine has an ongoing assignment to rewrite our bylaws.  While the end result is still to be judges when finished, they have spent a great deal of time working on their assignment.


The committee work was outstanding and the chairs were outstanding.  I take great pride in their productivity.


On the floor of the Board I concentrated on running an efficient and effective meeting.  I never spoke on an issue unless I gave up the chair (a total of two times in three meetings).  I took my role as presiding officer as a sacred trust and tried to perform accordingly.  I believe that I succeeded in respecting the position.  On some special matters I tried to be level headed and do what I thought best for the body independent of my views on the subject.


As President I tried to spread goodwill everywhere I went...at NABCs, Regionals, Sectionals and clubs.  I had great enthusiasm wherever I spoke or attended District and Unit meetings.  I spoke to Newcomers wherever I went and encouraging them to enjoy the game by learning it better.  To that end I distributing books and informative Internet addresses.  I encouraged youths and juniors by writing letters for achievement and sending book and software.  My efforts in this area were outlined in my mid-year report.  I honored the top five bridge clubs with plaques, which I presented personally.


I wrote a column…A Message from the President … that appeared bi-monthly in the Bridge Bulletin.  I believe these uplifting articles were very well received and helped to give a feeling that bridge is Alive and Well.  I continued to run the ACBL’s world computer-bridge championship, this year as part of the European Bridge League’s first Open Championship.  I continued to make friends internationally and tried to spread goodwill as a spokesperson for the ACBL.


I thank the many Board members who enthusiastically supported my efforts and made it a pleasure to work with the Board.  I thank Dick and Jan for hosting the Hospitality suite in New Orleans.  It was a pleasure watching them in action…and Beverly and I had a great time with them.  I thank Beverly for a great year as first lady.  Beverly was a great visible and personable hostess and spread goodwill wherever we went…she watched over me and worked selflessly.


Personal comments:


Board Politics.


We are a business as well as a service organization, and to succeed we should function as a business.  Putting your best foot forward is the best way, which can only come if we remove the politics of the Board from our business.  Choosing chairs based on politics is more than a losing proposition, it goes against our responsibility to the membership as well as trustees of the future of our game.


We should be respectful of each other…both on the floor of the Board and in email communication.


Our actions in these areas are often visibly to the membership, and may either add to or detract from our reputation as a Board and surely influence our effectiveness and success.


As Trustees of bridge in North America, we are a body that answers to our shareholders, the bridge community.  Many on the Board continue to put their Board loyalties ahead of our Board business.  One example is “commitments.”  Board members should not make a commitment to vote for a person or for an issue, and should only vote for a person or issue if they think it is in the best interests of bridge.  We are not a club, nor a family, although we have made many friends.  First and foremost we are Trustees of the game.