Thank you

Fellow Toastmasters,

I want to take a moment to thank all the people that brought us to today’s Business Meeting, and the election of our District officers for 2024-2025’s program year: the District Leadership committee members who interviewed a total of ten candidates for Division Director roles and the District trio roles; the members who nominated their fellow Toastmasters to these offices; the functionaries and presenters who helped run Tuesday’s Candidate Showcase; and the candidates themselves, who approached the roles for which they’re running with thoughtfulness and humility.

On Monday, 8 April 2024 — I took time off from preparing for today to rush three hours north to see the total eclipse of the Sun. We spent three hours traveling north, before we found a suitable spot on an access road to a field outside Middlebury, VT. There was an unplanned encampment of about 100 cars along this gravel road, where my wife and I sat with a nice stranger named Mary whose brother asked her to go in his place (he was stuck at home with a fever of 100°), and some kids who were much more interested in playing in the mud and their harried parents, and a Indian family of maybe 30 people who had come in at least six cars in a caravan.  There were some teenagers who had road-tripped from Boston.  Together, we watched as the Moon took a bite out of the Sun through our eclipse glasses, and then swallowed the whole thing.  It took no more than two minutes, and it started ending almost as soon as it began.  We hung out another 15 minutes, but mindful of a long drive home getting longer with traffic by the minute, we pulled out onto the highway. Then we drove home, 3 hours of back roads, going the speed limit the whole way and uninterrupted by traffic or delay. 

Those two minutes changed me, even so. Six hours of driving on unfamiliar roads, for a sight — stunning in its majesty — of a ring of light in the sky with a darkness at its heart.  I think that at least one of the ways I’ll subdivide my life in the future is “before I saw a total eclipse of the sun” and “after I saw a total eclipse of the sun.” 

There’s no telling if being a District officer will change you in the same way — but I certainly think of my life as divided in two parts, “before District service” and “after District service.”  Yesterday I went to my town’s Annual Caucus, and agreed to be nominated to run in the election for Select Board, the committee of three that runs my tiny town.  I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that before I was a District Officer — and now I do.  My former fears… have perhaps been… eclipsed by a recognition of both my personal competence, and a desire to be of service.

May today’s Business Meeting, where we elect our slate of District officers for the 2024-2025 program year, be the start of something similarly large, for all of us — and especially our candidates.

Andrew B. Watt, DTM
Past District Director 2020-2021
Interim Chair, District 53 Leadership Committee 2023-2024

2023-2024 Candidate Showcase Agenda

Candidate Showcase

9 April 2024 – 7:00 pm

  • Chair: Andrew B. Watt, DTM
    Past District Director
  • Co-Chair: Jeff Sobel, DTM
    Past International Director
  • Functionaries
    • Sergeant at Arms: John J. Hogan, DTM Immediate Past District Director
    • Zoom Master: Norm Thibodeau, DTM
      District Administration Manager
    • Zoom Master: Zachary Fisk, PM4
      District Public Relations Manager
    • Timer #1: Tom Farrelly, DTM
      District Parliamentarian
    • Timer #2: Steve Lanning, DTM
      Area 43 Director, Club Coach Chair


  • District Director: Bettyann Peck
  • Program Quality Director: Mohan Padamati
  • Club Growth Director: Jackie Kessler
  • Division A Director: Melanie Lee
  • Division B Director: Scott R. Davis
  • Division C Director:
  • Division D Director: Stephanie Roy
  • Division E Director: Elizabeth Keeling

Candidate Biographical Forms can be found on the web at


  • Morag Mathieson, DTM
    • International President 2023-2024
  • Angela Chute, DTM
    • District Director of District 45 2023-2024
  • Laura St. Louis, DTM
    • District Director of District 62 2023-2024
  • Matthew Storms, IP3
    • Club President of West-Conn Toastmasters 2023-2024
    • President’s Distinguished Club
  • Mary Angel, PM3
    • Club President of Dutchess County Toastmasters
    • Select Distinguished Club


6:30 pmRoom Opens to All Participants
7:00 pmCall To Order & WelcomeJohn J. Hogan
7:02 pmOpening Remarks by Co-ChairsAndrew B. Watt
Jeff Sobel
7:08 pmInterviews with Candidates
District Director candidateBettyann Peck
– Morag Mathieson, interviewer
Program Quality Director candidatesRick May
– Angela Chute, interviewer
Mohan Padamati
– Angela Chute
Club Growth Director candidateJackie Kessler
– Laura St. Louis, interviewer
Division A Director candidateMelanie Lee
– Mary Angel, interviewer
Division B Director candidateScott E. Davis
– Matthew Storms, interviewer
Division C Director candidateRick May
Mary Angel, announcer
Division D Director candidateStephanie Roy
– Matthew Storms, interviewer
Division E Director candidateElizabeth Keeling
– Mary Angel, announcer
Including equipment tests and transitions, each candidate should take approximately 5-6 minutes including 4 minutes of timed responses.
8:05 pm Concluding Remarks by the Co-ChairsAndrew B. Watt
Jeff Sobel
8:15 pmAdjournment
Candidate Corner to follow for approximately a half hour, ending no later than 9:00 pm

The Candidate Showcase is a formal annual event at which candidates for District office have an opportunity to show themselves and answer curated questions before an audience.

The Candidate Corner which follows is an informal event at which candidates for District office may meet one-on-one or meet in small groups with interested Toastmasters and engage in dialogue.

Both the Candidate Showcase and Candidate Corner are governed by rules laid down in Protocol 9.0 of the Toastmasters Governing Documents.

Report of the District Leadership Committee

Dear Patti Walter, DTM, District Director, and to the District —

The District Leadership Committee has completed its work.  I would like to thank the committee members — Richard Frantz, Jr, Steve Lanning, Sharon Mercado, Dave Pelland, Beth Van Kempen —for their dedication and serious attention to the work at hand.

Each year, the District Leadership Committee’s members, representing each of District 53’s Divisions, evaluate the qualifications and interview candidates for the elected roles for the coming program year.  As committee chair, I am expected to moderate deliberations and debate, and call a vote on each candidate who is presented — but not to influence the committee’s decision.

The District Leadership Committee interviewed the following candidates, and qualified them to run immediately for these roles as Nominated Candidates (links to their photos and biographical forms here):

  • for District Director
    • Bettyann Peck
  • for Program Quality Director
    • Rick May
    • Mohan Padamati
  • For Club Growth Director
    • Jackie Kessler
  • for Division A Director
    • Melanie Lee
  • for Division B Director
    • Scott Davis
  • for Division C Director
    • Rick May
  • for Division D Director
    • Stephanie Roy
  • for Division E Director
    • Elizabeth (Liz) Keeling

The committee met all its deadlines and requirements, with the exception of nominating two (2) candidates for the Club Growth Director role; this makes the report valid but incomplete. As a result, interested floor candidates who meet the requirements of the role, may present their paperwork to the District Director for the role of Club Growth Director in 2024-2025, provided that they do so prior to April 4, 2024 at noon.

All nominated candidates listed in the previous section will be listed on the District website at by March 10, 2024, along with their photographs and Biographical Information forms.

Respectfully submitted,
Andrew B. Watt, DTM, PDD
interim chair DLC 2023-2024

Officer Updates

Fellow Toastmasters of District 53,

We have some updates on District officer assignments.

I have received notification from John J. Hogan, DTM that he has to step back as the chair of the District Leadership Committee (DLC), although he will remain as Immediate Past District Director.  I have appointed Andrew B. Watt DTM, Past District Director 2020-2021, to lead the DLC until such time as John may or may not resume his duties. Both the resignation and the appointment take effect as of 9 February 2024 at 3:00 pm Eastern Time, to maintain the DLC’s continuity. Please forward all paperwork for the nominations process to Andrew B. Watt at from this point forward — Nominations are due by February 15, this week! John can be reached separately at, although we ask you not to present him with any non-urgent communications at this time.

I’m also pleased to report that Kate Scarcella CL EC3, has been appointed as District 53’s Club Extension Chair, one of the committees under Club Growth. More information will be forthcoming about her role in the near future. If you know of a possible club location, or would be interested in helping organize new clubs in District 53, please contact Kate at

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

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 or to

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

Nominations Committee 2023-24

District Director Patti Walter and Immediate Past District Director John J. Hogan are pleased to announce the membership for this year’s District Leadership Committee, which handles the nominations process for elected officers to the roles of District Director, Program Quality Director, Club Growth Director, and the five Division Director positions.

You can review this year’s first call for nominations here.

The 2023-2024 District 53 Leadership Committee is complete as follows:

  • Chair John J. Hogan, DTM, IPDD
  • Division A – Sharon Mercado, DTM, PDD
  • Division B – Richard Frantz, Jr. DTM, PDD
  • Division C – David Pelland, DTM
  • Division D – Steve Lanning, DTM
  • Division E –  Mary (Beth) Van Kempen, MS1

Despite these names listed here, all nominations for the listed roles, or inquiries about the nominations process generally, should go either to or to Do not contact the members of the committee individually about the nomination process or the status of any specific nomination; always send nominations and inquiries to me as the chair of the committee.

Yours in Toastmasters service,
John J. Hogan, DTM
Immediate Past District Director

First Call for Nominations

“The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things.”

Through The Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll, 1871

Dear Toastmasters of District 53:

Lewis Carroll may have been poking fun at monarchy, religion, nonsense as reason, or myriad other subjects, but my intent is clear. It is time to begin the conversation for District 53 Leadership in the 2024-2025 program year!

“What’s that, Hogan? We’re barely through the first quarter of THIS program year!”

To maintain continuity of leadership and member services, developing our district’s leadership is an ongoing endeavor. District Director Walter has asked me to chair this year’s District Leadership Committee (DLC), and I have enthusiastically accepted her request. The DLC will seek qualified candidates for several offices:

  • Division Director – there are five vacancies; all five must be filled.
  • Club Growth Director – at least two candidates are required; more are welcome.
  • Program Quality Director – at least one candidate is required; more are welcome.
  • District Director – at least one candidate is required; more are welcome.

Perhaps you have been considering one or more of these roles for some time. NOW is the time to throw your hat into the ring and take decisive action. Perhaps you are saying to yourself, “I don’t know if I am qualified to run for one of these offices.” If this is you, I have a great opportunity for you! Join me for one of two Meeting for Future Leaders of District 53 events. These sessions will be on Zoom, and they will be 30 minutes in duration.

  • Saturday, October 21, 2023 – 9:00-9:30 am.
  • Thursday, October 26, 2023 – 7:00-7:30 pm.

Use this link for both:

In the meantime, feel free to drop an email with any questions to

Thanks for reading this message to its end, future District Leader!

John J. Hogan DTM
Immediate Past District Director 2023-2024