Debbie Barnett

Enrollment Director

Driven by a lifelong passion for challenging herself with new and diverse experiences, Debbie Barnett embodies an entrepreneurial spirit that has led her to establish several successful businesses starting in her early twenties.

Debbie’s first introduction to the game was as a child by my mother, who was an avid player. She watched her mother play with her friends who were invited to her house or during the summer months at the Colony Beach Club in East Haven, Connecticut. Later, when she was in her mid-twenties, a group of older lady friends saw that she was eager to learn and invited her to play. After that day, she was hooked, and the rest is pretty much history.

Debbie began teaching mah jongg in 2006 because she wanted to share her love of the game with others. At that point, she had already been playing for over 25 years. During her teaching career, students often asked her if the game is challenging to learn. Her answer was “Yes; mah jongg can be challenging to learn but if you keep an open mind, and stay positive, you will get it.” She further explained, “there is a learning curve to mastering the game, as with anything else with which you want to excel. With mah jongg, you must tap into the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, perceiving, and understanding language. No wonder, mah jongg has earned the moniker of Game of a Thousand Intelligences.”

Today, unwilling to hit the brakes on her ambitions and settle into quiet retirement, Debbie decided to tap into her creative side and give a hand to writing. In October of 2019, Debbie published her first book, Unlocking the Secrets of American Mah Jongg, a step-by-step, illustrated guide on how to play American Mah Jongg. Debbie also completed her next book, Innocence Unraveled, a memoir that she published in October of 2020.

Understanding the growth in online learning, Debbie created the School of American Mah Jongg, a virtual, interactive platform and the first of its kind where students can take classes ranging from beginner to advanced levels.  After a year in development, the school’s online doors opened in January of 2020.

Her latest and most exciting venture is American Mah Jongg Ventures, LLC, and the biggest of her endeavors as she partners up with one of mah jongg community’s greatest influencers, Michell Frizzell, to bring the Nation the best of what mah jongg has to offer.