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Golfing with the FBI: The 23rd Annual FBIAA’s Thomas E. Duhadway’s Charity Golf Tournament.

Jean O’Connor was the chairperson of the 23rd Annual FBIAA’s Thomas E. Duhadway’s Charity Golf Tournament. As her first year being the chairperson, she was challenged with taking on the rigorous task of planning a large event with no golfing experience. After lots of effort and teamwork, Jean pulled off an incredibly successful event. I interviewed her to get some of her advice for first time organizers who are taking over big tournaments.

O’Connor is one of the three trustees for the FBI Agents Association Memorial College Fund, the nonprofit that the tournament benefits. It is a fund that provides scholarships to the children and spouses of deceased FBI agents. This means that family members who are left behind by a deceased agent are able to move past the financial burdens of losing a spouse and train themselves and/or educate their children, using this generous college fund that helps them earn their bachelor’s degree. Established in the 1985, the fund started out as a no interest loan that was provided to spouses and children of lost members. It gradually shifted over time into a generous scholarship.

O’Connor expresses her pride in being a part of this life-changing program.

“I lost my Dad when I was very young, so I understand just how much a fund like this can affect someone’s life. It is a great feeling to relieve that financial burden for our FBI family members in some way.”

Without a doubt, the fund has lifted the burden of many grieving families. In 2014, it provided 33 student scholarships, and it will have as many this year. Over the life of the fund, it has provided at least 200 scholarships.

The majority of the money for the fund has been raised through golf tournaments. There are 30-35 tournaments throughout the country, all run by different people. This shows the incredible success of using golf tournaments as a fundraising tool.

I asked O’Connor how Golf Digest Planner has been a resource for her.

“We’ve used Golf Digest Planner for 3 years. We had previous golfers we wanted to contact, so we used Golf Digest Planner’s email templates to send out a save the date email and registration announcement. We also use it for registration purposes and hole sponsorships.”

Despite the help from the planner, O’Connor was daunted by the task of replacing the previous chair, who was an avid golfer. To cope with this learning curve, she asked for help.

“I knew what my limitations were, so I recruited a team. I had a committee and it was very helpful. We started meeting ten months prior to the tournament and made assignments to the committee members based on people’s strengths and what they wanted to do. We had periodic meetings which originally were monthly and then increased to biweekly and then weekly as we approached the tournament.”

O’Connor reiterates that establishing a strong committee and relying on people in your network for your committee are great ways to ensure your tournament’s success. Her committee consisted of office members who were closely related to the cause, energetic and readily accessible.

Though it can be hard for any tournament organizer to relinquish control in the committee, O’Connor quickly realized that delegating tasks was the way to success. The committee also committed themselves to the goals they set for the number of golfers and the amount of money that they wanted to raise all while creating a great social event for the golfers. Setting these goals helped keep the committee members focused on the tournament experience and the fundraising.

Through months of hard work, the committee met their financial and social goals. According to O’Connor, all of the work was worth it to see the camaraderie of the golfers at the tournament. At the event itself, they had recipients of the fund attending, which gave O’Connor and her colleagues a chance hear first hand how the FBIAA Memorial College Fund affects the recipients’ lives.

“One of the guest speakers was the wife of an agent with whom I had worked at the Pentagon crime scene following the 9/11 attacks. Bob passed away from cancer leaving his five children and wife behind. His oldest daughter is currently attending college and her four siblings will be following in her footsteps. Teresa came out and spoke at the tournament explaining how the fund was able to relieve a large financial burden. It made a huge impact to all in attendance.”

Golf Digest Planner would like to thank the FBI agents Association Memorial College Fund for all of the work they do to help grieving families in need. We are very proud to support the FBIAA Annual Golf Tournament in its third successful year working with us.

To learn more, go to and click on the Charitable Programs tab then click on the FBIAA Memorial College Fund tab.

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