From the District Director

September 26th, 2023

Dear District 53 Members,

As you may or may not have heard there was a phishing attempt made against me that affected the senior team.

Patti Walter, District Director 2023-2024
Patti Walter, District Director

Someone posed as me from two outside email accounts and asked the leaders to respond when it was a good time to chat. If they responded to the email they were asked to go and purchase gift cards for a secret recognition program. Once I was notified of this senior team members were notified to not respond and delete the emails.  We thought that was the end of it.

A few days later some of our clubs’ executive committee members received the same email this time with the hackers posing as the club’s president.  The emails appeared to be coming from them through Free Toast Host.  We have notified them of this. To date we are not aware of any one purchasing any tickets. We took these attempts very seriously and made attempts to contact all club presidents so that they could share with their members.  

We are not stopping there. District 53 will be holding a Cyber Security Fraud Workshop on Wed. Oct 4th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The link to the meeting can be found on the district 53 Website on the front page under Recognizing Cyber Fraud Workshop.

You can never be too safe. 

Let me also remind you that the International Dues deadline is fast approaching on September 30, 2023.

Thank you for all you do. 

Patti Walter, DTM
District 53 Director 2023-2024

Recognizing Cyber Fraud (Workshop)

Wednesday October 4, 2023
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET
Zoom Recording
(see link below)

Join keynote speaker Joe Audet and District 53 officers for this workshop on understanding the risks and types of cyber-fraud that either you or your club may be subjected to.  An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure!  You’ll learn about some of the major types of internet-based schemes that are used to separate you from your money, including phishing, gift-card scams, fraudulent voicemails, malware attacks, and more.  Your best protection isn’t to rely on just one method of defense on the internet — you’re better off knowing the risks yourself, and taking steps to avoid them.  Come and educate yourself to protect both yourself and your club!

Keynote Joe Audet, CC CL, has been a member of Toastmasters for ten years. He’s been an IT professional for 27 years, operating as a systems administrator, website manager, programmer, and security engineer. He resides in western Massachusetts.

The District is offering this workshop immediately after a spate of cyber-fraud efforts deliberately targeting District Officers, Club Officers and Members. Know the risks, understand how YOU can protect yourself, and teach your fellow club members and families! Put it on your calendar and plan to attend, today!

Announcing Contest Season!

Mark your calendars because the Club Contest season is just around the corner, starting from October 15, 2023, and running through to December 10, 2023. This is your chance to showcase your communication and leadership skills on a club level. Our two contests this year are the International Speech Contest culminating at the World Championships of Public Speaking at the annual Toastmasters International Convention in August 2024; and the Evaluation Contest, culminating at our own District 53 stage.

Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • Club Contests 🏆 (October 15, 2023 – December 10, 2023): Clubs will kick off the contest season, providing members with a platform to shine and compete.
  • Area Contests 🌐 (December 11, 2023 – February 10, 2024): Winners from the club level will move on to compete at the area level, taking their speeches to a broader audience.
  • Division Contests 🌟 (February 11, 2024 – March 31, 2024): The competition will intensify as the best from the areas face off. It’s all about leveling up!
  • District Contests 🌍 (Date to be determined): The ultimate stage, where champions from each division will compete. Stay tuned for the date announcement, tentatively targeting the 3rd weekend in April!

You can follow the development of the contest season by bookmarking the Contest Schedule Page — and if you’d like to list your own club’s contest dates, please contact our webmaster!

We’ve adjusted the contest calendar to ensure that Division Contests are wrapped up before April 1st, avoiding any conflicts with dues renewals.

The Club Contest format is entirely up to each club’s discretion. You can choose to hold your contests online, in-person, or even opt for a hybrid format. Flexibility is key, so adapt to what works best for your club.

Please note that all Area, Division, and District Speech Contests will be held in-person.

Get ready to embark on this thrilling journey of self-improvement, competition, and growth. Stay tuned for more details and instructions on how to participate in these contests. 

Creative Connections (Division A)

Division A-for-Awesome Creative Connections Event

Join us in-person on October 14th to get to know your fellow Toastmasters and create connections that will help you and your club flourish! There will be ample time for socializing, helpful information, and table topics fun with light lunch provided.

  • Date: October 14th, 2023
  • Doors Open: 10:30am for Networking & Division A Director Coffee Chat
  • Event Times: 11:00am-1:00pm
  • Register to attend here: https://forms.gle/XFKPkwAbtmAQEpDU9

Location: 
Wallkill Valley Fire Department
112 Bona Ventura Avenue
Wallkill, NY 12589

The meeting space is on the lower level, with ample parking in the back.

Tentative Agenda:

10:30 – 11:00 amNetworking & Division A Director Coffee Chat
11:00 – 11:05 amOpening
11:05 – 11:45 am“The More You Know” Speeches
(5-7 minute speeches on helping your club with subjects like contests, hosting speech craft programs, and running Open Houses)
11:45 – 12:30 pm Table Topics Marathon
12:30 – 1:00 pm Social Time and light lunch

Warning on Spam/Grift

Hello, fellow Toastmasters!

District 53 would like you to know that we’ve had a spate of both spam and phishing attacks on members and on District officers. The messages purport to come from District Director Patti Walter, DTM, asking you to buy gift cards to prominent businesses, and then to text or email the activation codes to a phone number or email.

NONE OF THESE EMAILS ARE AUTHORIZED.
DO NOT BUY GIFT CARDS ON THE DISTRICT’S BEHALF.

The District’s finances are governed by the Toastmasters Governing Documents, and specifically Protocol 8.4: District Fiscal Management. Part of those rules says,

Expenses that are essentially personal gifts must provide no more than “incidental private benefit” and must have a reasonable relationship to activities that directly support the mission. Examples are tokens of appreciation, expressions of sympathy and modest incentives. These items are appropriate if they promote goodwill and a positive atmosphere for the delivery of the Toastmasters program, but must never be lavish or excessive. Cash and cash equivalents, including but not limited to non-Toastmasters gift certificates, gift cards, or any other stored-value products, are not permitted.

Protocol 8.4.8 – District Fiscal Management, Other District Expenses

In other words, the District cannot own or purchase gift certificates from organizations or companies other than Toastmasters International’s own internal store; and we cannot reimburse members, even District officers, who purchase such cards.

We strongly advise clubs to make their members aware of these rules, so that they are not victimized by this kind of predatory scam.

July 24 from your District Director

Hello members!

We are almost one month in, and time is going by so fast. Your Senior Team has been busy interviewing candidates, preparing for training, creating success plans and revising our annual budget.

Just like we have asked our officers to attend training, your District team will also be attending training in the upcoming month.  Our team of Area Directors and Division Directors will be attending a four hour session in August, and your District Trio will be attending a two-day session in August just before the Toastmasters International Convention in Nassau in the Bahamas!  The District Trio are there to attending the Annual Business Meeting on your behalf. At this meeting voting will occur electing ten new members to join the International Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.  Your district officers have interviewed all candidates and are ready to share what we have learned with you on August 2 and 3 at 8 pm.  You can find the link on our district calendar.

We are not the only ones who get to vote.  Each club has 2 votes in this election.  Clubs have responsibility to either attend the Annual Business meeting and vote, or proxy their votes to the District Director. We will talk about how to do this on August 2 and August 3.  Information on this process can also be found at https://d53tm.org/proxy-assignment/. Reminder the last date to assign proxies in August 11th.

Also remember that members’ international dues are $45 for the October 2023 to March 2024 period — when paid before July 31, 2023. After that time, dues rise to $60 per six months. Encourage your club’s members to pay early, and help them use the new self-pay feature (if your club has voted for it) to do so quickly and easily.

I can’t wait to share with you what we learned during our August training. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

Keep Speaking!!!  

Patti Walter, DTM
District Director 2023-2024

Proxy Assignment

There are several steps to casting votes at the Annual Business Meeting. It is your role to ensure the completion of Step 1 by August 11 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)/Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) -4:

Step 1: Assign Proxy for your Club

Hold a Business Meeting: The club should meet to discuss the international candidates and to choose a proxyholder.

To learn and understand the roles, attributes, and responsibilities of International Officers and Directors, please review the leadership roles. Learn more about the International Officer and Director Candidates.
Your club’s proxyholder must be able to attend the Annual Business Meeting, either online or onsite, on August 18, at 7 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)/Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) -4.
The Club President or Secretary designates the proxyholder through the Toastmasters International website.

  • A proxyholder must be designated, even if the Club President or Secretary is assigning the proxy to themself.
  • Only one person may carry the votes for your club.
  • Once your club has chosen the proxyholder, follow the instructions below:
  • Log into www.toastmasters.org with your member ID/email and password.
  • Scroll to the Annual Business Meeting section on My Home (directly below the My Education and Achievements section).
  • Click on “Club Proxy & Voting Instructions.”
  • If you are an officer in multiple clubs, select the club(s) for which you are assigning the proxy.
  • Click on the Start button next to “Designate Proxyholder.”
  • Select from the three options for designating a proxyholder: A member of the club, the 2023-2024 District Director, or another active Toastmaster.
  • Follow the prompts to complete the process. To submit your proxyholder designation, enter your name into the Signature box, click the checkbox, and press “Confirm proxyholder.”
  • If your club wants to use the option to provide instructions to the proxyholder, click on Go to “Designate Voting Instructions”. Voting instructions can also be provided at a later time from “Club Proxy & Voting Instructions.”
  • Once your club’s proxy is assigned, please advise the proxyholder they will receive a communication on how to complete Step 2: Credentials. Credentials/the acceptance period starts on August 12.

If your club is the home to the Club Growth Director, or Program Quality Director, or another District officer who will be attending the meeting, consider assigning the proxy to them so they get the practice at exercising that responsibility.

If the officers in your club have changed, please notify World Headquarters immediately by going to the Club Officer Assignment section of Club Central on the Toastmasters International website. You can also email the changes to clubofficers@toastmasters.org or call the Club Quality and Member Support Department at +1 720-439-5050.

For questions or additional information, please email proxyinfo@toastmasters.org or visit the Annual Business Meeting page of the Toastmasters International website.

Please plan to attend the Annual Business Meeting, either onsite or online, on Friday, August 18, at 7 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)/Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) -4. Please note, due to legal requirements, there will be no 24-hour voting period. Voting for each election will be opened, closed, and tallied before proceeding to the ballot for the next election, so be sure to attend from the start.

Toastmasters New Year in Division A

Hello Division A Toastmasters!

I am very excited to be your Division Director for the 2023-2024 year. I have been a member of Toastmasters since November of 2020. My home club is Talk It Up Toastmasters (#8045) in Windsor, CT. I was also a proud member of Nathan Hale Toastmasters (#1484) in Manchester, CT for two and a half years before work obligations got in the way. Through both I have met wonderful Toastmasters that had a very positive impact on my personal growth.

In the last few years, I have completed 3 Pathways: Persuasive Influence, Presentation Mastery, and Visionary Communication. I am currently working on the Effective Coaching and Leadership Development Paths, as well as working towards becoming a Pathways Mentor and Distinguished Toastmaster. I was honored to receive the Area Director of the Year Award for 2022-2023.

I am excited to be a Division Director to serve more clubs in the District and connect with more Toastmasters. I see great value in the community and personal growth Toastmasters fosters. I want to see clubs growing so more people can experience the benefits it provides. Membership growth is going to be my focus this year both as Division Director and for my DTM project.

Division A will have virtual council meetings once a month with ADs (club officers also welcome!) on the first Tuesday of each month. I will also be organizing virtual workshops quarterly that are open to all members. Topics will have relevance to both growing our clubs and growing ourselves as leaders.

Saturday Success Series:

I am excited to be a resource so please reach out with any challenges or questions you have. I look forward to getting to know you all. You can reach me at divadir@d53tm.org.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Anne Roy

Happy New Year from District 53!

Happy New Year District 53 members…actually Happy Toastmaster New Year.  My name is Patti Walter and I am your new District Director. First, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Patti Walter, District Director 2023-2024
Patti Walter, DTM
District Director 2023-2024

I would like to take a moment to introduce your new district team. I have been a Toastmaster since May of 2013.  I have also been your Program Quality Director, Club Growth Director, Division Director, and Area Director for 2 terms.  I reside in Ludlow, Massachusetts, and I am a recent retired Learning and Development Consultant.   I enjoy spending time with my children and six grandchildren.

Our Program Quality Director this year is Bettyann Peck, DTM.  Bettyann was previously our Club Growth Director and Public Relations Manager.

New to the trio, in the position of Club Growth Director is Mohan Padamati DTM. Mohan was our previous Public Relations Manager, and a prior Division D Director and Area Director before that. 

Zachary Fisk will be joining us as the new Public Relations Manager. Zachary also has been a Division Director. Administration and Registration manager Norm Thibodeau. Also on our team is Webmaster Andrew Watt. We are still recruiting for Finance Manager and Executive Secretary.  Please feel free to let me know if you are interested in either position. 

I am so grateful that these members have stepped up to assist with running District 53 this year!

I want to conclude by sharing a little bit about my goals this year. First, I want to make sure the District grows! I hope to see that we are in a better place on 30 June 2024 then we were on 1 July 2023.  I want to continue to get out to the clubs and see what we as a district can do better.  I want our members to understand what our district does and the enormous number of opportunities that are out there for our members to grow as communicator and leaders.  I have said in the past that it takes a village.  

The District Team cannot do it by themselves.  We are always looking for new people to step up and assist in and share their idea.  Please reach out if you have questions or idea.  Finally, I am open to visiting clubs, attending open houses, giving speeches or provide an ear for concerns.  Reach out to me at dd@d53tm.org. Let’s become distinguished together this year.  Together we can do this.

In your service,
Patti Walter, DTM
District Director 2023-2024

Summer 2023 Club Officer Training Announced!

Program Quality Director Bettyann Peck, DTM invites you to Summer Club Officer Training (COT)!

All District 53 COT events are online!

Please see more information and register at  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D53COT-Registration

This year we have adjusted the training to be more flexible. There will be 3 classes that each officer must take.  The first is on your specific club officer role, the second is on Club Success Planning and the third is an elective that you can choose from available options on the day you attend.
To provide you with as much scheduling flexibility as possible, some sessions offer all classes and other sessions only have one of the three required classes.  You can take all three classes on the same day or on different days to satisfy the 3-class requirement.

DateClass 1: Officer RolesClass 2: Success PlanningClass 3: Electives
06/12/2312:00 pm
06/14/233:00 pm 4:00 pm 5:00 pm
06/15/236:00 pm7:00 pm8:00 pm
06/17/239:00 am10:00 am11:00 am
06/20/2312:00 pm
06/21/236:00 pm7:00 pm8:00 pm
06/28/236:00 pm7:00 pm8:00 pm
06/29/2312:00 pm
07/13/2312:00 pm
07/15/239:00 am10:00 am11:00 am
07/17/236:00 pm 7:00 pm8:00 pm
07/19/2312:00 pm
07/22/239:00 am10:00 am11:00 am
07/24/2312:00 pm

Register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D53COT-Registration

Goal 9 of the Distinguished Club Program is to get 4 or more officers trained each 6 months. But we are asking that each club set a goal to get all officers trained. Research has shown that clubs with all officers trained are much more successful.