Train the Trainer Events announced

District 53 is pleased to host two events for Toastmasters who want to learn to be facilitators of Club Officer Training (COT) events, either this summer or in the future.

The two events are scheduled for:

Training will be led by David Freedman, DTM.

Members can register here directly.

Please note, attending this training does not guarantee that you will be asked to take a facilitator role. IT also does not qualify as Club Officer Training in itself; you must attend one of the other Club Officer Training events either as a facilitator or as an attending club officer, for your club to receive credit for your training.

From the desk of District Director Patti Walter, DTM

Hello District Members,

I hope this message finds you well.

I am excited to extend a special invitation to all District 53 members to join me at our upcoming “Breaking Barriers” District Conference on May 10th and 11th in Southbury, CT.

You will have access to 2 great contests, 2 education sessions, lunch, breakfast and much more. We are also blessed to have Sheryl Roush, DTM and Accredited Speaker join us not only for a keynote session but a second educational session and networking event.

Spend some time investing in your own personal growth.

Did I mention we are extending our pre-sale price to May 4th?

Hope to see you there…you won’t be disappointed.

Register and check out more details at


PS: We’re rallying 100 members to stand alongside us as we celebrate Toastmasters’ 100-year legacy and the vibrant spirit of District 53. Will you be one of them? Join us and make history!

In the Spotlight: Conversations with Our Conference Co-Chairs

To shed light on the dedication and passion fueling our upcoming conference, I reached out to our esteemed co-chairs, David Freedman (DF) and Richard Peck (RP), to learn more about their motivation and behind-the-scenes conference planning with a few short questions. Their tireless efforts and strategic insights have been instrumental in shaping the conference’s direction and ensuring a memorable experience for all attendees. Through this brief interview, I aim to offer our readers an exclusive glimpse into the planning and thoughtful decision-making driving this event. 

ZF: How many times have you chaired the Toastmasters District conference, and how has each experience shaped your approach to leading such an event?

DF: Over my 37 years in Toastmasters, I’ve been involved in approximately 40 District 53 Conferences – we used to have 2 a year. This is my sixth time chairing/co-chairing. No matter the length of time I’ve been involved I always look at each year as a blank canvas. It’s about keeping the members first…I am a member first and foremost and I ask, “Are we giving them an exceptional experience where they can learn and grow? Is the day of value that I would jump to register?” The conference committee always has great lessons learned and best practices that come from each year – that and participant evaluations we use when starting to plan future conferences.

RP: This is the first Toastmasters District Conference that I have chaired.

ZF: What motivates you to take on the role of conference chair, and how do you stay inspired throughout the planning and execution process?

DF: I enjoy logistics and planning events, whether Toastmasters or other professional organizations I’ve been a part of. Planning an event and seeing it come to fruition is very satisfying. Hearing attendees’ comments about how much they enjoyed the day makes any issues we may have come across in the planning fall away. I’ll be involved in planning conferences as long as the District leadership wants me to be!

RP: The District Conference is an opportunity for members to gather from throughout the district to celebrate the year, hear from inspiring keynote speakers, immerse themselves in great educational sessions, and witness the best speakers from the district as they compete in various speech contests. Who will go on to represent District 53 in the World Championship of Public Speaking? Wanting to provide the best member experience possible by helping to coordinate these various aspects of the conference is what motivates me. It’s not about having the title of Conference Chair…it’s about contributing to the experience. I stay inspired because throughout the process I am constantly learning something new. Thanks to those who have served on the conference committees before, and some who still do, there is a depth of knowledge that helps with the planning and execution and is vital to the success of the conference.

ZF: Reflecting on your past conferences, what are some of the most memorable moments or highlights that stand out to you?

DF:  The high caliber keynote speakers stand out as do the outstanding sessions our own members deliver. Our members knock it out of the park! Seeing the skillset of our members delivering educational sessions – some have come so far in their Toastmasters journey.

RP: In 2008, I was the Division D Governor which was the host Division for the District Fall Conference. District Governor Karin Von Kaenel asked me to open the District Council meeting by reading the District Mission but she had a request, “Please present it in a way beyond the normal read-through.” So, I dressed up as a Town Crier and delivered it with a colonial approach. I also had the honor of hosting the Friday night talent show which showcased over 20 performances from individuals and groups. There was something for everyone, from magicians to musicians, and everything in between. If that wasn’t enough, International President Jana Barnhill made her official visit to the district. Memories that will last a lifetime!

ZF: Can you share a particular challenge you’ve faced as a conference chair and how you overcame it, or what you learned from the experience?

DF: There are challenges that always pop up whether venue, speakers, keynotes, etc. The key to big issues is to work with your team to resolve them. No one has all the answers – you have a talented team so leverage their insights. No matter the experience level, every member of the team brings skills to the table to enhance the experience and overcome challenges.

May Greetings

Dear Toastmasters,

I hope this message finds you all well and thriving in your speaking and leadership journeys. As we move forward, I have some important updates and reminders to share with you all.

Firstly, I’m pleased to announce that I was elected to a second term as Division E Director for 2024-2025. I am excited to continue serving District 53! I encourage anyone who might want to be an Area Director next year to send their information to me, so we can have a conversation.

As we gear up for the District Conference on May 11, I urge you all to plan to attend. It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with fellow Toastmasters, learn from inspiring speakers, and support our Division E champions in the contests. 

Now, let’s talk about Club Officer elections. Nominations should be made by the last meeting in April, with elections taking place by the first meeting in June. It’s crucial that the new officers are reported on the website by June 30. 

There are ten Club Officer Training events scheduled already. If you’d like to be involved in facilitating those events, please let Bettyann Peck and Mohan Padamati know. Make sure to mark these events in your schedules to ensure you don’t miss out on valuable training opportunities.

In closing, I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for your dedication and commitment to Toastmasters. I have learned that I cannot do this alone. I need your support to bring positive change and growth to Division E. 

Warm regards,

Elizabeth (Liz)  Keeling
Division E Director 2023-2024-2025!

Spring Blooms

Hello Division C Toastmasters, 

I hope your Toastmasters spring is going well!  

I have a few updates and reminders of now, there is no successor for the Division C Director for the 2024-2025 Toastmasters’ year.  The incoming District Director will appoint someone, and indeed already has a candidate in mind!  Please let me know if you would like to be an Area Director next year so I can pass it on to my successor to-be and the District Director-elect.

Division C will have its own gathering in early June. Save the date for a social and educational event for all our members to celebrate this year.  Come and relax, eat, mingle with others and bring your questions about Pathways or anything else. Please let me know you’re coming!

If you haven’t made plans yet, you should plan to attend the District Conference on Saturday May 11.  We have a great range of speakers and workshop presenters, including Accredited Speaker Sheryl Roush DTM! I’ll be there and hope to see you — if you see me, come say hi. I also hope your club will be represented to cheer on the Division champions in the contests: the Evaluation contest is Friday night, and the International Contest is on Saturday. Cheer on your fellow Division members!

Your club should also be deep in planning for next year’s officer slate. By the Club constitution, nominations for incoming Club Officers are due by the last meeting in April, and the election takes place by the first meeting in June — with the new officers reported on the website by the current secretary or other club officer no later than June 30. 

To help prepare next year’s club officer teams, Club Officer Training events are starting to be scheduled. Please let Bettyann Peck and Mohan Padamati know if you’d like to be involved in facilitating those events — and add the first two events, June 20 and June 22, to your own schedules!

As your Division C Director this year, I’ve learned a lot, especially how important it is to collaborate with others in events such as the Area and Division Contests, while trying to complete my own Pathways projects.  I hope you continue to grow as speakers and leaders.  Lastly, remember that the DCP (Distinguished Club Program) year ends on June 30, so get those education credits in!

Selina Tourjee
Division C Director 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.

Realignment Plan for 2024-2025 Posted

The draft Realignment Plan for 2024-2025 has been posted. You can find it here.

Voting to accept this plan will form part of the District 53 Business Meeting on April 11, 2024.

There will be a Zoom meeting to discuss this plan and meet with members of the District Realignment committee on April 4, 2024. Please come and share your thoughts with District leaders. If there are local conditions the committee needs to know, this is the forum to explain them, so adjustments can be made.

A Toast to Women in Toastmasters

As I think about the upcoming District 53 conference theme “Breaking Barriers” the main notion grabbing my attention is we are celebrating 50 years of women’s membership in Toastmasters. From my perspective, it seems ludicrous that at one time this was a men-only group. We are a professional organization and very inclusive. Times were different.

This thought led me to wonder who was the first woman, and this would be a great topic for a blog post. Entering a few choice search terms into my search engine of choice, hint it rhymes with bugle, I discovered a great article in a fraction of a second from Toastmasters. It covers everything you’d want to know. I’ll provide a link to this source but let’s explore the highlights. (1)

Way back, before I was even born, in 1970 Helen Blanchard joined a Toastmasters club at the encouragement of her “fellow” members, she used the name Homer. Her joining paved the way leading to Toastmasters eventually opening up for women members. Toastmaster Blanchard later became the first Woman International President in 1985. What an inspiration!

In 2017, I first joined this organization. Women were and are well-established members. From my perspective, they are part of the foundation and the fabric that weaves us together. Many have been mentors to me for my speaking projects, and leadership.

I’d like to recognize a few women Toastmasters. Elizabeth Reed, DTM, is my longest Toastmasters mentor. She has encouraged me to take on many club leadership roles, and district roles. She is well regarded in our club as a mentor for all. Toastmaster Reed, a self-proclaimed bull in a china shop always gets things done in a way that everyone learns from. As a new member our club was struggling, and several officers had to step away. Together we took on many of the needed roles until other members were recruited. This provided much insight into how Toastmasters worked and the importance of stepping up when the chips are down. A lesson that has served me well professionally.

When I stepped up as an Area Director I served under Amy Chiu. She demonstrated lessons of organization for leaders, which was a tremendous help. I carried this lesson into my term as Division Director and continued in my professional life.

Fast forward to today and as I work with District Director Patti Walter, DTM, Program Quality Director Bettyann Peck DTM, and Region 9 Adviser Lynda Starr, DTM. They each demonstrate many great qualities of leadership for our organization and me personally.

Cheers to our ‘fellow’ women Toastmasters! You and your contributions are appreciated.


  1. 1970—a time when,encouragement of her fellow members.

2024 Conference: Keynote Sessions

Session 1 Workshops Conference PageSession 2 WorkshopsKeynoteC&L Award

About Sheryl Roush

Sheryl Roush, DTM, PDG, AS, shares insights from over 35 years of as a professional speaker and top-rated international trainer. She is CEO of Sparkle Presentations, Inc., based in New York, “Bringing Out Your Brilliance!”  

She has given well over 3,500 presentations on-site in 13 countries. The National Speakers Association honored Sheryl with “Member of the Year” in the San Diego and Los Angeles Chapters, plus LA’s Golden Microphone Award. As a trainer and speaking coach, her clients include: Deepak Chopra’s lecture team; Intuit’s TurboTax® executive sales team; Southwest Airlines; NFL cheerleaders; and started the Speakers Bureau for the U.S. Olympic Training Center working with 30 Olympians. As a conference speaker, Sheryl has opened on stage for Dancing with the Stars Marie Osmond, keynote closed for Geena Davis, and presented on programs with Olivia Newton-John, and John Maxwell, to name a few. 

Sheryl Roush

Morning: “Heart of a Toastmaster: Breaking Barriers”

Why did you JOIN Toastmasters? How are you “breaking barriers” in your life?  What’s NEXT for you?   Attend this engaging heart-centered keynote message and feel re-energized to continue your journey! 

Afternoon: “Sparkle When You Speak! Breaking Barriers to Brilliant Communications

Want to connect better with your listeners?
Need to gain credibility with your audiences?
Could your presentations be more engaging?

Build instant rapport, credibility and confidence! Explore effective ways to design and deliver engaging presentation… that even work in speech contests!

Break barriers with others!  Authentically connect with anyone… boost your interpersonal communication skills, and be Brilliant!