D53 Blog

Club Officer Forums

Each year the District holds officer training sessions in summer and winter to better equip our club officers with the information they need to perform their positions to the best of their ability.

Wouldn’t it be nice to:

  • Build a network of others that are doing the same tasks as you?
  • Discuss what’s working and what’s not?
  • Let the district know how they can assist.

We are doing just that.

These forums are scheduled by officer position to be held quarterly from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Their goals are to allow you to build connections within the organization to help you and your clubs grow.  You set the agenda.  Want to learn more about Pathways? We will get someone in there to do a training.  Having trouble with the Moments of Truth?  Don’t worry we got you covered.  You decide what to talk about.  

See the dates below for your scheduled sessions.  

These forums are open to all members. This is a great way to introduce others to leadership positions and build strength within our clubs.

PresidentVPEVPMVPPRSecTreasSAA
7/27/20227/26/2022*8/23/20228/24/20229/13/20229/14/20229/15/2022
10/20/202210/19/202211/16/202211/17/202212/13/202212/14/202212/15/2022
1/20/20231/19/20232/16/20232/17/20233/13/20233/14/20233/15/2023
4/20/20234/19/20235/16/20235/17/20236/13/20236/14/20236/15/2023

N.B., the VPE forum on 7/26 will have a guest speaker to assist first time VPE with navigation Base Camp and approving levels and paths.

Sales Tax Info for Toastmasters

It’s come to the District’s attention that changes in the state sales tax law have gone into effect, and clubs in New York will have to be alert to these changes.

  1. Digital products (new paths, banner files, etc) are currently exempt;
  2. physical products from the Toastmasters store

It’s unclear to us at this point that new members or renewing members are required to pay sales tax on their memberships. There is a new Membership Application, and a sales tax calculator, and at the moment we recommend that New York Toastmasters clubs collect the sales tax from new members until we get better guidance. You can return the extra money to the member if it turns out not to be needed.

You can read more about this at the Toastmasters webpage on US tax compliance at the state level, and a Supreme Court case called South Dakota vs. Wayfair, Inc.: Toastmasters Legal and Tax Compliance in US states

At the moment, neither Connecticut nor Massachusetts have laws that extend sales tax to Toastmasters products or digital resources. We’ll let you know if that changes.

— ABWatt, District Webmaster & IPDD, 12 June 2022

Open Houses in June – July – August

The following clubs are hosting Open Houses in June, July and August 2022. Visit if you can!

July 18, 2022 — 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (2 hours)

Capital Advanced Toastmasters – Open House

Join the members and guests of Capital Advanced Toastmasters for an Open House on July 18, 2022 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Refreshments provided at an in-person event!

Cathy Kittle, winner of the 2022 District Table Topics Contest

• Wildwood Program, Inc,
1190 Troy Schenectady Road (Route 7)
Latham, NY 12110. 

Keynote by Cathy Kittle, DTM — 2022 Winner of the District 53 Table Topics Contest.

Learn to be a better public speaker, evaluator, and leader in the Toastmasters world — grow your skills in an advanced club — build your skills in the context of a wider community!

More information can be had at the club’s website: 1360121.toastmastersclubs.org

RSVP to Jim Parsons, DTM

Results of the District Business Meeting

Results of the District Council Business Meeting

May 7, 2022 — 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm EDT

Update: The results of this business meeting were approved by a vote of the clubs during the week following the business meeting — 106 YES, 0 NO, 1 ABSTAIN votes were recorded by the clubs. The minimum number of participating clubs was 96, so the results of this business meeting are RATIFIED.

These are “at a glance” informal results of the District Council business meeting held on May 7, 2022 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm EDT. This report should not be considered binding or definitive, compared with the Minutes of The District Council Business meeting which will be issued as part of the meeting packet of the September 2022 meeting.

The full meeting video is also available for viewing at https://www.dropbox.com/s/p18jfb4p73ej30m/D53 DC 2022-05-07 Video.mp4

  • District Director Akihiro Ishii welcomed members at 3:00 pm, and introduced the meeting functionaries
  • Club Growth Director Patti Walter read the Toastmasters Mission, the District Mission, and the Toastmasters Promise.
  • Registration Chair Norm Thibodeau explained the procedures for online meetings and online balloting via SurveyMonkey.
  • Parliamentarian Sam Young reviewed the District’s Special Rules of Order. They were passed without objection.
  • District Director Akihiro Ishii moved on to the adoption of the Agenda and the Quorum Report at 3:20 PM.
  • Credentials Chair Paul Randolph read the results of the Quorum Vote at 3:25 PM:
    • The Business Meeting did not achieve quorum, with only 61 of 190 possible club votes available; 64 votes were needed to achieve quorum. An additional 20 votes from DEC members (Area Directors, Division Directors, and District leadership) were present, but do not count towards quorum.
    • The results of this meeting will have to be confirmed by a separate vote in the coming week, in which member clubs and District Executive Committee members will vote to ratify the results of this meeting.
  • The District 53 Year-End Audit Report 2020-21, reported by Rich Dirksen, chair of the Audit Committee, passed 76 Yes votes to 0 No votes and 5 abstentions.
  • The District 53 Mid-Year Audit Report 2021-22, reported by Rich Dirksen, chair of the Audit Committee, passed 74 Yes votes to 0 No votes and 7 abstentions. (3:47 pm)
  • The District 53 District Council Business Meeting Minutes of September 2021, assembled by Steve Lanning, were presented for approval by District Director Ishii. The Minutes were approved by 72 Yes votes, 0 No votes, and 9 abstentions. (3:55 pm)
  • The District 53 Realignment Plan for 2022-2023 was presented by co-chairs Mohan Padamati and Amy Chiu. Amy Chiu led the discussion. In summary, the District will remain at five (5) divisions, but will reduce the number of Areas from 25 Areas to 24 Areas. The Realignment Plan was approved by 74 Yes votes, 1 No votes, and 6 abstentions. (4:07 pm)
  • The District Officer Elections for the 2022-2023 program year came next:
    • Immediate Past District Director Andrew B. Watt presented the advisory report of the District Leadership Committee.
    • Nominees presented as floor candidates prior to the April 30 deadline.
    • Unanimous Consent Ballots were cast for the following officers for the 2022-23 program year:
      • John J. Hogan for District Director
      • Patti Walter for Program Quality Director
      • Jacqueline Kessler for Division A Director
      • Chad Babcock for Division C Director
      • Paula Zajac for Division D Director
      • Beth Van Kempen for Division E Director
    • In the contested election for Club Growth Director, each candidate spoke for 1-2 minutes and then the vote was taken.
      • Mohan Padamati received 23 votes, and
      • Bettyann Peck received 42 votes,
      • with six abstentions.
      • Bettyann Peck elected as Club Growth Director
    • In the contested election for Division B Director, Scott Davis spoke for 1-2 minutes, and Norm Thibodeau read a statement on Paul Terman’s behalf since the candidate could not be present due to a prior commitment.
      • Scott R. Davis received 16 votes, and
      • Paul Terman received 49 votes,
      • with 16 abstentions.
      • Paul Terman elected as Division B Director.
    • All votes for District Officers for the 2022-23 program year were completed at 4:55 pm.
  • District Leadership Reports were presented next:
    • Public Relations Manager Bettyann Peck presented the Public Relations Report.
      No questions were advanced from the floor
    • Club Growth Director Patti Walter presented the Club Growth and Membership Report.
      No questions were advanced from the floor.
    • Program Quality Director John J. Hogan presented the Program Quality Report.
      No questions were advanced from the floor.
    • District Director Akihiro Ishii presented the District Report.
      No questions were advanced from the floor.
  • The meeting was adjourned at 5:14 pm.

Winners of the District International Speech Contest

District 53 held its International Speech contest on the morning of May 7, 2022 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. 

Contest Winner Amrita Bannerjee with the District Executive Leadership Team — 
Club Growth Director Patti Walter, Program Quality Director John J. Hogan, and District Director Akihiro Ishii
Contest Winner Amrita Banerjee with the District Executive Leadership Team —
Club Growth Director Patti Walter, Program Quality Director John J. Hogan, and District Director Akihiro Ishii
, photographed on Zoom.

In the District International Speech contest, one contestant from each of our five Divisions in the District have a speaking period of five to seven minutes to deliver a speech on a topic of their choosing. Each contestant has advanced from a specific club in District 53, and arrives at the stage after competing at the Area level against 3-4 other clubs, and the Division level competing against contestants from four other Areas. The winner of the District International Speech contest then advances to the Region Quarterfinals, and possibly to the International Semifinals and the World Championship of Public Speaking (WCPS).

District 53 2021-22 International Speech Contest Winners: Third Place Kevin M. Finn, Second Place Brian David Crawford, and First Place Winner Amrita Bannerjee
District 53 2021-22 International Speech Contest Winners: Third Place Kevin M. Finn, Second Place Brian David Crawford, and First Place Winner Amrita Bannerjee, photographed on Zoom

The winners of the contest were:

  • First Place: Amrita Banerjee
  • Second Place: Brian David Crawford
  • Third Place: Kevin M. Finn

In the interviews following the contest, both the winners and other contestants thanked the judges, audience members and others for the opportunities to grow and learn as speakers and presenters. They reminded the audience that new Toastmasters should take every opportunity that they can get to speak, and that, under the pressure of preparing to speak for an audience, practice brings improvement and gracefulness.

Many thanks to all the contestants, representing the five divisions of District 53:

  • Division A: Sandra Weiner, representing Greater Stamford Toastmasters, with a speech titled, “What Next?”
  • Division B: Donna Peterson, representing New Dawn Toastmasters, with a speech titled “Lead With Your Heart.”
  • Division C: Kevin M. Finn, representing Cedar Hill Toastmasters, with a speech titled, “M-O-M.”
  • Division D: Brian David Crawford, representing Speechweavers, with a speech titled, “42.”
  • Division E: Amrita Banerjee, representing Bethlehem Club, with a speech titled, “The Choice.”
District 53 2021-22 International Speech Contest, Division Contest Winners: Division A Sandra Weiner, Division B Donna Peterson, Division C Kevin M. Finn, Division D Brian David Crawford, Division E Amrita Bannerjee
District 53 2021-22 International Speech Contest, Division Contest Winners: Division A Sandra Weiner, Division B Donna Peterson, Division C Kevin M. Finn, Division D Brian David Crawford, Division E Amrita Bannerjee, photographed on Zoom.

Our Thanks also go out to our senior functionaries, the Program Quality Director John J. Hogan, and the Contest Chair, Contest Master and Chief Judge, who together assembled the team of more than fourteen functionaries, judges, and back-up leaders who managed the contest behind the scenes.

Contest functionary team John J. Hogan, Jennifer Cimilluca, Dave Pelland, and Elizabeth Keeling
Contest functionary team John J. Hogan, Jennifer Cimilluca, Dave Pelland, and Elizabeth Keeling, photographed on Zoom.
  • Program Quality Director John J. Hogan
  • Contest Chair Jennifer Cimilluca
  • Contest Master Dave Pelland
  • Chief Judge Elizabeth Keeling

and thanks again to all our contest functionaries, judges, and audience members.

Winners of District Table Topics Contest

District 53 held its Table Topics contest on the evening of May 5, 2022 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

In the District Table Topics contest, contestants from each Division in the District are given the same question with no advance preparation, and try to respond with a 1-2 minute speech that has a beginning, middle, and end and reaches a definite conclusion. Each contestant has advanced from a specific club in District 53, and arrives at the stage after competing at the Area level against 3-4 other clubs, and the Division level competing against contestants from four other Areas. The District Table Topics Contest is the highest level of competition in this speech contest type; Toastmasters International also has the International Speech Contest, which advances through three more levels beyond the District level (Regional Quarterfinals, International Semifinals, and the World Championship of Public Speaking).

Cathy Kittle of NYS Forum Toastmasters, winner of the District 53 Table Topics Contest, in a red floral blouse against a gray background.
District 53’s District Table Topics Contest winner 2021-22, Cathy Kittle of NYS Forum Toastmasters

The question was:

The theme of World Earth Day 2022 is ‘Invest In our Planet Earth’. What have you done, OR what will you plan to do in the future, to “Invest In Our Planet Earth”?

District 53 Table Topics Contest question, 2022.

The winners of the contest were:

Many thanks to all the contestants, representing the five divisions of District 53:

  • Division A: Michael Esposito
  • Division B: Maria Baral
  • Division C: Ogewu Agbese
  • Division D: Michelle DeDominicis
  • Division E: Cathy Kittle

and to our senior functionaries:

  • Contest Chair Jennifer Cimilluca
  • Contest Master Amy Chiu
  • Chief Judge Elizabeth Keeling

and to all our contest functionaries, judges, and audience members.

Delays on Toastmasters Website

World Headquarters advises us that the www.toastmasters.org website will be down for the following periods of time, due to extended testing:

  • May 5 – May 17: You will not be able to submit education awards through Club Central. You can submit awards by submitting to the email address educationprogram@toastmasters.org up to May 17. No awards can be submitted for any reason between May 18 and May 22. World Headquarters believes that processing should resume on May 23.
  • May 5 – May 22: The Toastmasters Online Store is unavailable and product orders cannot be accepted; this includes DTM awards and print paths. Path purchases will not be available either, nor can membership applications be processed. Membership application processing resumes on May 23.
  • May 18-May 22: All services that require login to the website will be unavailable: this includes District Central, Club Central, your Profile, your Base Camp, and the Speechcraft Gateway. Please download any resources you need before May 18.
  • May 21-May 22: The enter Toastmasters.org website will be down, with a maintenance page indicating a temporary closure for anyone who visits the website.

Club Advisory

During the period from May 18 to May 23, each club’s Addendum of Standard Club Options — the part of your club’s constitution that includes your dues structure, inactive member fees, meeting times and places, and additional officers beyond the traditional seven — will undergo an update. On May 23, this form will then be blank, with new options. Accordingly:

  • Please gather the data for your club before May 18. Any club officer can do this.
  • After May 23, re-input the data, or
  • hold a business meeting of your club to renew this information.

TI Website login access is unavailable May 4 – May 8, 2022

Website login access is unavailable; any information/documents you wish to access that require logging in will not be accessible.

This includes District Central, Club Central, Base Camp, and the Speechcraft Gateway. Access will be restored on May 9. Here are some specific items to consider downloading/saving prior to temporarily losing access on May 4:

  • Reports in support of the District Council meeting and credential process—District Membership Report, District Club Officer Report, and District Council Report
  • Leads and prospective club contacts
  • Club Officer Training (COT) and Area Director Club Visit Reports (ADCVR)