Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Five Honored With Bush ’48 Leadership Awards At Blue Leadership Ball

Five Honored With Bush ’48 Leadership Awards At Blue Leadership Ball


  • Harris Ashton ’54
  • Benjamin Balme ’61
  • Nancy Cahill ’79
  • Donald Dell ’60
  • Christopher Getman ’64

Special Award:

  • Jack Embersits '58

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale Athletic Department honored the 2011 recipients of the George H.W. Bush ’48 Lifetime of Leadership Award at the gala Blue Leadership Ball last Friday at the William K. Lanman Center inside Payne Whitney Gym.  The class of 2011 Bush Award winners included Harris Ashton ’54, Benjamin Balme ’61, Nancy Cahill ’79, Donald Dell ’60 and Christopher Getman ’64. In addition, the late Jack Embersits ‘58 received a special Bush award.

It was the sixth biennial Blue Leadership Ball, which brought together more than 450 alumni, friends of Yale Athletics and current student-athletes.

The 2011-12 Yale captains opened the event along with the Yale Precision Marching Band with a rousing rendition of Bulldog.  Each recipient later spoke of the importance of Yale Athletics, leadership and giving back in their lives. The event also featured the "Once in a Lifetime" Auction which benefitted the event and Yale Athletics.

Jack Ford ‘ 72 served as the master of ceremonies and Jon Reese ’90 served as Chair of the event.

Ashton, who earned three letters for the football team, served as the chairman, president and CEO of the General Host Corp. from 1970 to 1997. He was the chief administrative officer for the company for three years. In addition he was on the board of directors for Bar-s Food Company, 49 Franklin Templeton Group of Funds and RBC Holdings (USA) Inc. A graduate of Columbia Law School, he was a trustee for the United Cerebral Palsy Research & Education Foundation and was on the board of directors for the Madison Square Garden Boys & Girls Club.

Balme, a two-year letterwinner for the football team, has been a renowned orthopedic surgeon in the Portland, Ore., area for nearly 40 years. At Yale, he earned All-Ivy, All-East and All-America honors in 1960 and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent two years with the Eagles before attending Yale Medical School. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and was stationed at a hospital in Da Nang, where he operated on front line casualties. One of his patients was Watts Humphrey ‘66, a Yale quarterback who Balme had watched play while in medical school. Balme also has travelled to Honduras and South Africa on several occasions to provide volunteer surgical services to impoverished youth and families.

Cahill, a swimmer and softball player at Yale, has spent 25 years practicing law and is now a principal with Holman, Cahill, Garrett, Oliver & Anderson in Seattle, Wash. Cahill has established several dozen public and private foundations in the non-profit sector and advises on charitable giving to benefit entities and programs in the United States and third world countries. The charities have made grants in excess of $400 million to support programs in the U.S. and elsewhere. Cahill also has remained active in the Yale community. She was one of nine founders of WISER, an endowment that has raised more than $1 million to support women’s athletics at Yale. In addition, she was the Yale Association of Western Washington president from 1986 to 2011. Cahill is currently an officer and director for the Seattle Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center Legacy advisory board and serves as the volunteer chaplain for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, which is owned by two former Yale athletes Lisa Brummel and Ginny Gilder.

Dell, the captain of the undefeated 1959-60 tennis team, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009. He is currently the president of Blue Entertainment Sports & Television. His contributions to tennis are far reaching. He co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals and served as the first general counsel for eight years. He started the sports marketing firm ProServ and was the founder of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington DC. As a player, Dell was a two-time Davis Cup team member and later served as the Davis Cup captain in 1968-69. In addition, he has served as a tennis analyst on television, and his work with the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation has helped generate $15 million for inner-city children. Dell has served as vice chairman and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame board of directors.

Getman, who has been the keeper of the Yale mascot Handsome Dan for nearly 25 years, is president of the New Haven based Soundview Capital Management Corporation, an investment management firm. He played baseball at Yale and later served as an assistant football coach. In 1971, he joined White Weld & Co., which eventually merged with Merrill Lynch. At Merrill Lynch, he served as a first vice president and was elected to the Chairman’s Club, which was then the firm’s highest recognition club. Getman has been very active the New Haven community. He received an Elm Award from the mayor and president of Yale in 1992 and was awarded a Yale medal in 1999. He recently served as president of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Mory’s Association. In addition, he serves as chairman of the Alexis deToqueville division of the United Way of Greater New Haven, and he and his wife were presented with the “Touch a Life Award” in 2002. Getman has been a president of the Yale Baseball Association and the director of the Yale Hockey Association.

Embersits, who captained the 1957 football team to a 54-0 victory over Harvard, passed away in 2009. He was a founding member of the Bush Leadership Awards Committee and served as a chair of the event. In addition, he was a long time board member of the Yale Athletic Association and the Yale Football Association.

“The celebration of the Bush Leadership Awards has become one of the highlights of the Yale-Harvard football weekend,” said Director of Athletics Tom Beckett. “Once again we were thrilled to recognize the `lifetime of leadership’ displayed by this year’s honorees. The Honors Committee selected an extraordinary class yet again.”