About Judge Academy

At Judge Academy we believe gaming is important. Games change lives. Games connect people. Games build friendships. And, most importantly, games build communities. 

A community can grow and evolve into something very special for everyone who’s a part of it. But something so special doesn’t grow on its own –  it needs a leader; someone who cares; someone willing to create an environment that encourages safe fun and healthy competition; someone who’s adept at both event preparation and handling a tricky customer service situation, someone who understands the importance of gaming and the community they’re helping to foster around it. 

It needs a Judge Academy Judge. 



Judge Academy makes the world of gaming better by helping judges grow and level up. We help Judges grow their skills, their abilities, and as citizens of our community.

We see judging as a stepping stone to achieving a larger mission – to make the gaming environment a better place for players, judges, and organizers alike. Our curriculum aims to develop a service mindset in judges that sees every interaction as an opportunity to build trust, empathy, and connection with others.

Our mission to help judges goes beyond providing rulings to a higher level of service wherein Judges strive to create a positive environment for everyone involved.  This mindset is achieved by fostering a genuine care and attention for players, organizers, and the event experience as a whole.


Judge Academy’s objective is to train and certify quality event staff for all games, to provide communication resources for judges to interact, and to help event organizers find and develop the staff that will help make their projects successful.


In accordance with this mission we believe that several values are key to both our operations and the interactions of our certified judges and the community.

Community Development

We believe that everyone has an integral role to play in supporting and developing the communities we serve. At times we are educators, guides, motivators, and event facilitators. While operating in these roles we must work towards building a safe and welcoming environment for all people.

Education and Growth

We believe that learning, skill development, and personal and professional growth are lifelong processes. To that end, we aim help all Judge Academy members to grow their knowledge and experience. To that end, the Judge Academy staff will always strive to provide our learners with an expanding library of material and insights throughout their careers to foster lifelong education.

Mentorship and Feedback

Every member of the judging community can benefit through the exchange of ideas, experience, and knowledge. We help judges to engage in growth opportunities – through cooperation, judges can help each other achieve greater potential, share their strengths, and inspire excellent service to the community.


Fairness is at the heart of games. Throughout every interaction – whether in person, in game, or through any communication channel – it is crucial to treat all people fairly and respectfully. All decisions and behavior should be impartial and objective, and all conduct must be free from prejudice.


We strive to embody the spirit that all people are welcome. We will work to create supportive environments for all regardless of their actual or perceived race, sex, gender, gender expression/identity, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, level of experience, notoriety, or familiarity.

Personal Growth

We strive to look at every situation as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Our focus should be the development and honing of skills, improving interpersonal communication with every conversation, and helping our members to perfect the execution of events in every detail.


We will act with consistency and honesty in all dealings with others. This applies in the ways that Judge Academy deals with our staff, judges, and tournament organizers as well as other stakeholders.


We believe that while we perform a specific function for the gaming community the position itself is inherently not one of authority, but one of service to all of its members. We will strive to adopt a mindset conducive to this effort and to provide excellent customer service and experiences.

Judge Academy Staff

Tim Shields

For over 25 years Tim Shields has been a leader in the gaming community, having organized scores of entertaining and innovative events, from Magic tournaments to convention experiences.  He enjoys an excellent reputation within both the Magic and table top communities, and is excited to be able to fuse those worlds by way of Judge Academy.

Samantha Harr / L2
Magic Judge Program Manager

Samma is our Communications Champion, currently serving as the stand-in Magic Judge Program Manager. When she’s not working, Samma reads books, makes art, and watches a lot of old cartoons. With only 2 semesters left, the completion of her Master’s Degree is in sight, and she just needs to focus and get it done. A goblin deck got Samma into Magic and she’s been a devoted red player ever since.


Eric Dustin Brown / L3
Strategy Champion

Eric is a Level 3 Magic judge from Seattle, WA. In his storied time as a member of judge community leadership, Eric has worked in MagicFest Show Management for a Premier Tournament Organizer, judged at Pro Tours, head judged Nationals and Eternal Weekend, and guided his local community as Regional Coordinator for the former USA Mid-Atlantic region. If you meet Eric, ask him about painting miniatures, professional wrestling, and Celeste.


Daniel Lee / L3
Rules/Policy Champion

Daniel, owing to his experience as an educator, is in charge of Rules and Policy content. He is passionate about travel and new experiences, so you will probably find him in an airport somewhere. He’s been a judge for over 15 years (yes, really, 15 years) and has seen many ideas have their time in the sun. If someone is playing Storm, Daniel’s probably not far away.

Jonah Kellman / L3
Logistics Champion

As Logistics Champion, Jonah spends roughly the same amount of time in airports, hotels, and convention centers as he does in his own home. Drawn to dynamic challenges, he appreciates how every event has its own logistical hurdles and no plan is perfect. If you catch him during his downtime, he is more than willing to talk to you about books, Star Wars, or Star Wars books.

Judge Academy Team Member: Carolyn

Carolyn Bentley
Project/Office Manager

Carolyn just recently jumped into the world of Magic by joining Judge Academy. She comes with a strong background in Administration, Human Resources and herding cats. In her free time, Carolyn hangs with family and friends, dabbles in arts and crafts, and grounds herself in nature. She loves to learn, so feel free to share your tips, tricks, and stories about Magic and the Industry.