Norwich Open House Success!

Maroon banner announcing an open house on 17 April 2024,  in front of a range of photos depicting guests and speakers from the event.

On Thursday, April 17th, 2024, Norwich Toastmasters club held an open house at Chelsea Groton Bank in Norwich. We had 19 attendees, including 6 guests at our club meeting. Of our six guests, we had one guest from District 38 who gave a speech and our District 53 District Director, Distinguished Toastmaster Patti Walter.

To get us started, Ed Watkins, our Toastmaster of the Day, introduced our technicians that were filled by members from both Norwich Toastmasters club and our sister club, Colonel Ledyard Toastmasters. This meeting focused on spreading the word about Toastmasters and what Toastmasters has to offer. If you are looking for somewhere to challenge yourself to grow personally and professionally, you need to check out Toastmasters, as we all know the number-one fear is public speaking. The first section of the meeting focused on prepared speeches. At this meeting, we had three electrifying speakers!

  • The first speaker this evening was Christine Gabel, her speech was titled, “Find Your Voice, What Norwich Toastmasters Can Do for You?”. Christine’s speech was a very compelling speech about Toastmasters and what it has to offer, to help you find your voice because Toastmasters is an affordable continuing education that teaches you skills and allows you to practice them in a positive and supportive environment without fear of failure. Christine is new to Toastmasters and it is very evidence she is passionate about Toastmasters.
  • Our second speaker, Dennis Stevens, gave his speech titled, “Be Brave!” Dennis joined the club this past February and is already giving his 3rd speech. Dennis was inspired to give this speech after attending several club meetings and notice people refrain from participating. He talked about what does bravery mean? in reference to public speaking. He told us about the tale of two arrows in Buddhism. The first arrow we can’t always control, but the second is our response to the first arrow. He ended by giving us suggestions on how to handle our fear of failure and challenged us to let go of our fear, be brave and start right now by volunteering for Table Topics.

Photo provided by Christine (Christine and Mary were missing from the photo)

  • Our final speaker was Frank Vowinkel from Lehigh Valley Toastmasters in Pennsylvania, a club in District 38. Frank came to practice his contest speech titled, “The Funcle”, and to receive informal feedback prior to competing at his District’s Humorous Speech Contest. It was a hilarious story on how he was the fun uncle. His niece and nephew are so lucky to have a Funcle!!! We wish him all the best at the contest and look forward to hear how he placed.

We then moved to the impromptu section of the meeting, Table Topics. This part of the meeting allows us to practice thinking on our feet. Darrell Fox, our Table Topics Master, introduced school days as the theme for this session. Darrell asked questions about favorite teachers, best school topics, favorite toys and/or activities when we were all growing up. It was a lot of fun!

The final section of the meeting was evaluations led by our General Evaluator, Nate Jaycox. In this section we received constructive feedback to help us continue to improve our skills. Toastmasters provides a positive and supportive environment to allow us to learn and practice without fear of failure.

Are you looking to improve your communication skills? Are you looking to become a more effective leader? Are you looking for somewhere to challenge yourself to grow personally and professionally? If you answer yes to any of these questions, please attend our next Toastmasters club meeting in person or online.

DATE: Wednesday, May 1st

TIME: 7-8:30 pm

IN PERSON LOCATION:

  • The Congregational Church of Salem
    at the Community Building across the street from the church.
    244 Hartford Road
    Salem, Connecticut 06420

ONLINE ZOOM:

  • LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84732872267?pwd=ZlZ1ODFYZzNySjBOVjR2UnN2aGFTZz09
  • Meeting ID: 847 3287 2267
  • Passcode: 4779255

For more information about the upcoming club meeting, contact Dennis Stevens at 760-802-4103 or Sharon Mercado at 860-367-4195.

2024-2025 District Officers Elected

On Thursday 11 April 2024 by unanimous ballot, District 53 elected its slate of officers for the 2024-2025 program year during the spring business meeting of the District Council.

Serving in the District Leadership Trio are:

  • Bettyann Peck, DTM, District Director 2024-2025
  • Mohan Padamati, DTM, District Program Quality Director 2024-2025
  • Jackie Kessler, DTM, District Club Growth Director 2024-2025
  • Bettyann Peck joined Toastmasters in 2016 as a member of Park City Toastmasters in Division B and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Her proudest achievements in Toastmasters is seeing members she has mentored grow in their communication and leadership skills beyond anything ever expected to achieve. Her professional career spans over 40 years; as the owner of a renovation company, she enjoys designing and installing her clients’ visions of the perfect kitchen, bath or living space.   She lives in Seymour, CT with her husband Richard (also an active Toastmaster) and their dog Indi. Bettyann loves being mom to three amazing children and spends time with 5 grandchildren. In her spare time when she’s not renovating her own vintage home, she serves her town as an elected member on the Board of Finance, an active Lions Club member, World Vision International Board Member and an officer at various Veteran posts.
  • Mohan Padamati joined Talk It Up Toastmasters in Windsor, Connecticut in 2011. He is also a member of Screaming Eagles Toastmasters club & Talking Tomorrow Together Toastmasters club in Division C. He has completed the Distinguished Toastmaster award twice and he was a Division Director of the year in 2021. He is currently working for Cyient Incorporated as an Associate Vice President (AVP). He collaborates with multiple leaders on daily basis and works with very diversified human capital. He lives with his wife Madhu and their two boys in Glastonbury, CT.  His hobbies are Toastmasters, reading the books and watching Bollywood & Tollywood movies.
  • Jackie Kessler joined Bethlehem Toastmasters in 2016. Her journey has included completing five paths in Pathways; serving in nearly all club officer positions in her home club; being a charter member of New York State Forum Toastmasters; serving District 53 as an Area Director, Division Director, and Club New Source Research Chair; taking first place in two District-level speech contests; and receiving the District 53 Toastmaster of the Year Award for 2021-2022. For more than 20 years, Jackie has worked in marketing and communications, with skills including strategic communications, content development, and editorial. She lives with her husband Brett (also a member of Bethlehem Toastmasters) in Delmar, NY, along with their recent college graduate son, currently matriculating son, and two cats. 

Elected alongside them are four of the five Division Directors. Due to a last-minute withdrawal from the campaign, District Director-elect Bettyann Peck will appoint a suitable Toastmaster to the role of Division C Director, who will then be confirmed by majority vote at the fall business meeting of the District Council.

Serving for the Divisions are:

  • For Division A: Melanie Lee
  • For Division B: Scott R. Davis
  • For Division C:
  • For Division D: Stephanie Roy
  • For Division E: Elizabeth Keeling
  • Melanie Lee  joined Toastmasters in December of 2020 as a member of Greater Stamford Toastmasters in Division A.  She is most proud of being able to serve the membership of Area 11 as the Area Director from 2022 to 2024.  Melanie is a retired NYC certified English teacher having served for 25 years in Brooklyn and the Bronx.  She lives in Stamford with her husband Michael and their canine companion, Blue.  In her spare time, she talks up Toastmasters at her current place of employment, The Ferguson Library, church-Union Baptist Church and, as a member of the board of directors of C.O.N.E.C.T. (Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut).
  • Scott R. Davis joined Toastmasters in 2011 as a member of Greater Bridgeport Toastmasters in Division B, and is also a member of Park City Toastmasters.  The first time he passed through District leadership roles, he received Area Governor of the Year in 2015 and the U-Rock Award in 2016.  Professionally, he holds the unique role of being the Chief Encouraging Officer of Life (CEOOL). In his free time, he loves write, taking photos, solving puzzles and being surrounded by his faith community.
  • Stephanie Roy joined Toastmasters in November 2020 as a member of Talk It Up Toastmasters (2020-present) and Nathan Hale Toastmasters (2020-2023). She immediately fell in love with the opportunities for growth and D53 community. In April 2024, will also earne the distinction of Distinguished Toastmaster. Stephanie is a seasoned entrepreneur and a dedicated coach and consultant for entrepreneurs, helping them design businesses that align with their passion for making a positive impact. She owns a martial arts school and has a passion for building empowering, community-focused villages within brick-and-mortar businesses. She balances her professional pursuits with homeschooling her son, nerding out on Zettelkasten, and playing way too much Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Elizabeth Keeling joined NYISO Toastmasters in Rensselaer, NY in 2017. She is also a dual member of Capital Advanced Toastmasters in Division E. She was awarded District 53 Toastmaster of the year for 2022-2023 at the District 53 Annual Conference. She is currently working as a Project Manager for the New York ISO (NYISO) and brings experience from the healthcare and energy/utility industries. Elizabeth lives with her husband, Grant, and their two cats in Rensselaer, NY. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, playing video games, and reading.

The new District Trio and Division Directors will make their promises and be formally installed at the District 53 Annual Conference on May 11, 2024 in the afternoon; and take office on July 1, 2024 at midnight.

The whole volunteer staff of District 53, and all the Toastmasters membership of the District and beyond, wish them great success in 2024-2025!

Communication & Leadership Award 2024

For immediate release —

District 53 is pleased to announce the 2024 recipient of its Communication and Leadership Award. The Communication and Leadership Award is presented by the District to a non-Toastmaster in the community who is an outstanding communicator or leader.  The recipient will have distinguished himself/herself as a leader or spokesperson for a worthy cause or purpose, especially as it exemplified their communication and leadership skills. 

Alisa Klein, Executive Director of Grow Food Northampton (GFN), manages and stewards access to farmland and healthy food to create what they call a “local food system” in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. The organization: 

  • Offers 320 organic community garden plots on six acres to provide gardening space to 400 community members; 
  • Leases prime farmland and provides infrastructure and resources to ten small farms on the 121-acre Grow Food Northampton Community Farm;
  • Manages year-long weekly farmers markets to connect local farms directly with customers;
  • Runs a free mobile farmers market that, weekly, delivers fresh local produce and other quality ingredients to hundreds of individuals and families grappling with food insecurity and hunger;
  • Operates a Giving Garden that grows and donates thousands of pounds of organic produce annually to local food pantries and community meal sites; and
  • Conducts collaborative research projects with academics and others on sustainable and climate resilience-enhancing agricultural practices.
Alisa Klein, executive director of Grow Food Northampton, and recipient of the 2024 District 53 Communication and Leadership Award
Alisa Klein,
executive director
Grow Food Northampton

On the Community Farm, GFN leases land to farmers who have traditionally been denied access to farmland, including refugees from war-torn places like Somalia, women farmers, and others. In addition to its farm-based Community Garden, GFN has established community gardens at nine public housing communities to enable low-income families to have access to green spaces and grow their own food. Working together with local business sponsors, Grow Food Northampton doubles the purchasing power of low-income individuals so they can afford more healthy local foods at GFN’s farmers markets. The organization also collaborates with the local school system to deliver hands-on education about nutrition, cooking with locally grown food, and gardening to all K-12 students, while also offering workshops to adults on a variety of local food system-related topics. 

Ms. Klein is a long-time activist and community organizer working on issues as diverse, yet interconnected, as the climate emergency and peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. She has been deeply involved in bringing restorative and transformative justice models to addressing harm in communities. Between 2014 and 2020, Alisa served as a Northampton, Massachusetts, city councilor where she established a Select Committee on Pesticide Reduction and wrote and sponsored legislation to prohibit the use of pesticides in municipal spaces. She has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a Master’s in International Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Alisa Klein will receive the award at the District 53 Annual Conference in Southbury, CT, on May 11, 2024.

District 53 Toastmasters is an administrative unit of Toastmasters International that supports the Toastmasters clubs in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, and the Albany, Hudson Valley and upper triangle of New York State. Clubs are open to all adults 18 years of age and older through the payment of membership fees; all members of clubs are members of District 53 Toastmasters. You can find a club near you through the Find a Club feature, or learn how to Start a Club in your community or in your corporate or government environment.

2024 District 53 Conference is Breaking Barriers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toastmasters District 53 Announces “Breaking Barriers” as Theme for 2024 Conference

Southbury, CT February 13, 2024 – Toastmasters District 53 is thrilled to announce the theme for its highly anticipated 2024 conference: “Breaking Barriers.” This dynamic theme was carefully chosen to celebrate Toastmasters’ centennial year and to reflect on the remarkable milestone of 50 years of women’s membership within the organization.

“Breaking Barriers” holds profound significance as it resonates differently with each individual, capturing the essence of personal growth, empowerment, and achievement. As Toastmasters celebrates its 100th year, the theme serves as a poignant reminder of the organization’s enduring commitment to breaking down barriers to effective communication and leadership.

“We are incredibly excited to unveil ‘Breaking Barriers’ as the theme for our 2024 conference,” said Bettyann Peck, DTM, Program Quality Director. “This theme encapsulates the spirit of Toastmasters as we honor our rich history while embracing diversity, inclusivity, and the limitless potential of our members.”

The conference will feature a diverse range of workshops, keynote speeches, and networking opportunities designed to inspire and empower attendees to overcome obstacles, seize opportunities, and reach new heights in their personal and professional lives.

“We invite Toastmasters members and guests from across the region to join us for an unforgettable conference experience,” added Bettyann Peck, DTM. “Together, let’s break barriers, shatter limitations, and embark on a journey of growth, discovery, and transformation.”

The Toastmasters District 53 “Breaking Barriers” conference will take place May 10-11, 2024 at The Heritage Conference Center, Southbury, CT. Further details, registration, and updates can be found at https://d53tm.org/district-conference/

For media inquiries or more information, please contact Zachary Fisk, Public Relations Manager at prm@d53tm.org.

Marketing Campaign

Hello District 53 Club Officers,

I am writing to let you know that District 53 is partnering with Toastmasters International by participating in a global marketing campaign.

This campaign will begin on 8 January 2024 and run for 90 days until 7 April 2024.  It will consist of using brand recognition advertising on LinkedIn to educate prospective members about Toastmasters.  In order for this to be successful we need everyone’s assistance.  Here is how.

  1. Please check your Find A Club information at Toastmaster International and make sure all the information is correct
  2. Respond to all inquiries within 48 hours.  If you are a restricted club and unable to take this lead please forward to me at dd@d53tm.org. This is the most important part as it can make or break the success of the campaign
  3. If you receive the ad in your LinkedIn account please pass it on, and pass it on again and pass it on even one more time.  The more hits we get the better our chances at a success rate.

One of the benefits of this campaign is that I am able to receive reports on how we are doing.  This gives us the opportunity to maintain an open discussion on campaign progress.

I am including resources to assist you with this campaign. 

The Global Advertising Campaign—2024 Webinar recording to learn the objectives, user journey, campaign goals, and new ads that will be running in your District. The best practices learned will also be highlighted.

The straightforward Global Advertising Campaign Preparation Tips

The Prospective Member Conversion Guide. This valuable resource will help guide clubs to converting prospective members to members, contributing to the growth of your clubs. 

The Prospective Member Follow-Up Email template to use as you reply to prospects in a timely, consistent manner

Finally, please share this message with all your club members and ask them to assist too.  The more the merrier.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and all that you do each and every day for your clubs, your members and yourself.

Happy New Year.

Sincerely,
Patti Walter, DTM
District Director, 2023-2024
DD@d53tm.org

Call for Nominations

Greetings to all of you from the District Leadership Committee!

This notice serves as the official Call for Candidates as mandated by Protocol 9 of Toastmasters International Governing Documents. District 53 seeks qualified candidates for the following offices:

  • Five Division Directors, one or more candidates for each Division: A, B, C, D, and E.
  • Club Growth Director, two or more candidates
  • Program Quality Director, one or more candidates
  • District Director, one or more candidates

Time is of the essence. Nominations are open now. Nominations shall close at 11:59 pm (EST) on February 15, 2024. Please read Form 450b, the Official Toastmasters Call for District Officer Nominations

All nominations, including incomplete nominations, received after this date and time shall be considered to have been received late and will not be evaluated nor scheduled for interview by the DLC. 

Any Toastmaster who self-nominates or is nominated by another Toastmaster after this date and time MAY have the option of running as a Floor Candidate. There are limiting criteria for running as a Floor Candidate. Don’t delay: submit your nomination today!

A complete nomination will include the following five items:

  1. Candidate Application Form
  2. District Leader Nominating Form
  3. Officer Agreement and Release Form
  4. District Leader Biographical Information
  5. Headshot image (JPG, 225 x 150 pixels)

Be sure to read the role descriptions for District Officers, and the core competencies learned in these roles, in the District Leadership Handbook.

Call for District Candidates

If you are interested in leading your District in building new clubs and supporting all clubs in achieving excellence, watch this video from 2023-2024 International President Morag Mathieson.

Please direct all questions to me at either nominations@D53tm.org or to IPDD@d53tm.org.

Yours in Toastmasters service,
John J. Hogan, DTM, IPDD
Chair – District Leadership Committee

Preparing for Changes to Pathways!

Pathways Changes – How to Prepare

Fellow Toastmasters,

Long requested and awaited changes to Pathways, the Toastmasters education program, are coming in 2024!  This is great news.  However, there will be a transition period where some patience will be needed.  

Per a recent advisory from the Toastmasters International Education team, Pathways BaseCamp managers (typically the club VPE) have been requested to ensure that all Pathways level completion requests and the associated award requests in Club Central be in sync and up to date by December 15, 2023.  If any level completions or awards are submitted after that or the 2 systems are not in sync, there may be impacts to the DCP credit for member level completion awards.

All members should prepare for these changes as follows.

  1. Submit completion approval requests for any Pathways levels already completed by Monday, December 11.
  2. For any paths completed after December 11, hold off on submitting the completion request until we are informed that it is OK to do so.
  3. Each member should check to make sure their Pathways completions and awards are in sync. Learn how in this short video prepared by Toastmasters International.  Inform your VPE of any discrepancies found immediately.
  4. You can continue to work on your path projects — just don’t submit any new approval requests during the transition period.

More news about the improvements to the Pathways education system will be announced as it becomes available.

Sincerely,
Norm Thibodeau, DTM
District Administrative Manager, 2023-2024

Want to learn more?  Here are a few references:

A Change in Status for CATC

Founded in 2009, Capital Advanced Toastmasters Club is proud to be the Capital District’s only advanced club. The Executive Committee and club membership has recently voted and would like to announce that the club has decided to embark on a brand-new journey as an open, community club with no membership restrictions.

We are focused on communication and leadership skills, both basic and beyond the basics offered by most clubs! Let us help YOU with Level 4 and 5 & DTM projects or we can help you get started as a brand-new Toastmaster. Our next meeting is Monday, October 2nd at 6:30pm Eastern Time.

Please visit our website for more information. https://1360121.toastmastersclubs.org/

District 53 Announces 2022-2023 DTM Awardees

July 29, 2023 – Toastmasters District 53 is proud to announce the following members who have been awarded the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation for their outstanding contributions to Toastmasters International:

  • Patricia H. Walter, DTM, Blue Chip Toasters Club
  • Thomas Farrelly, DTM, Hubbell Shelton Toastmasters
  • Elizabeth J. Reed, DTM, Housatonic Toastmasters
  • Steve Lanning, DTM, Toastmasters of Downtown Springfield, MA

The DTM designation is the highest award that can be earned in Toastmasters. It is awarded to members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, communication, and presentation skills.

The four awardees were recognized for their dedication to Toastmasters and their commitment to helping others. They have all served as club officers, mentors, and volunteers, and they have helped to inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals.

“We are proud to have these four outstanding members as part of the D53 family,” said Zachary Fisk, Public Relations Manager of Toastmasters District 53. “Congratulations to Patricia, Thomas, Elizabeth, and Steve on their well-deserved achievements!”

About Toastmasters International


Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the organization’s membership exceeds 280,000 in more than 14,700 clubs in 144 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

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DISTRICT 53 ANNOUNCES 2023-24 LEADERS

Patti Walter, District Director 2023-2024
Patti Walter, DTM
District Director
Bettyann Peck, DTM
Bettyann Peck, DTM
Program Quality Director
Mohan Padamati, DTM
Mohan Padamati, DTM
Club Growth Director

SPRINGFIELD, MA, MAY 6, 2023 (June 27, 2023)

Toastmasters International announces the District 53 Leaders for 2023-2024. The
District serves Toastmasters members in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and
Eastern New York.

The 2023-24 District Officers were sworn in at the District 53 Annual Conference held in
Springfield, Massachusetts on May 6, 2023.

Distinguished Toastmaster Patti Walter, DTM, a Learning and Development Consultant,
has been a recipient of the District Toastmaster of the Year Award and previously served on
the Executive Committee as Club Growth Director and Program Quality Director.
Toastmaster Walter has been elected as District Director and will coordinate all of
the Division and Area Directors to help the members of all the clubs achieve the
Districts mission.
Distinguished Toastmaster Bettyann Peck, DTM, owner of a Design &
Renovation Company has served on the Executive team as the Public Relations
Manager and Club Growth Director. Toastmaster Peck has been elected Program
Quality Director and will oversee all of the Districts Club, Area, and Division Officer
training as well as Speech Contests held throughout the year, along with the annual
Conference next Spring.

Distinguished Toastmaster Mohan Reddy Padamati, DTM, is a Senior Director of
Business Development at Cyient, Inc. He was a recipient of the Division Director of the
Year Award, and previously served the district as the Public Relations Manager.
Toastmaster Padamati has been elected as Club Growth Director to establish marketing
strategies, build new clubs and help existing clubs achieve excellence over the
coming year. 

We invite you to learn more about Toastmasters International www.toastmasters.org
and our District at: https://d53tm.org/guest/

About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the organization’s membership exceeds 280,000 in more than 14,700 clubs in 144 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

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