Join Us for the District 53 Toastmasters Annual Conference – May 10-11!

Dear Fellow District 53 Toastmaster,

As Program Quality Director for District 53, I’d like to extend a personal invitation for you to attend this year’s District 53 Toastmasters Annual Conference on May 10-11 at the Heritage Inn & Conference Center in Southbury, CT. The Conference Committee has put together an amazing program and the theme “Breaking Barriers” is something we can all relate to, whether it is a barrier in the way we network with others or a barrier to our own personal growth.

You will have the opportunity to experience two special workshops with a world-class Toastmaster and Accredited Speaker, Sheryl Roush. Her engaging, heart-centered keynote message will make you feel re-energized and inspire you even beyond your Toastmasters journey.

There will also be two additional morning breakout sessions led by outstanding District 53 Toastmasters. These interactive sessions will provide great tips on how to take your presentations to the next level as well as more advanced and cutting-edge topics. Plus, celebrate this year’s Communication & Leadership Award winner Alisa Klein with an all-inclusive luncheon. We close the conference with the fourth level of competition in the International Speech Contest – come see some of the best speakers in the District!

As Cathy K., a 2023 conference attendee, said “At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend a whole day, traveling to another state for the District conference but I’m SO glad I did! It gave me an opportunity to enhance my Toastmasters experience, and meet cool, new people, and I was blown away by the speech contest participants. It was a fun day- well worth it!”

Ticket prices go up on April 27th to the At Door rate, so please register to join us for this exciting opportunity to meet new people and invest in your own personal and professional development. Looking forward to seeing you there! There is a club rate, three or more people from the same club get a 10% rebate. Bring your fellow members and share this experience!

Additionally, don’t miss out on the FREE Friday night District Evaluation Speech Contest and socializing gathering on, May 10th at 7 pm. Click here for directions

Yours in Toastmasters Service,

Bettyann Peck, DTM
Program Quality Director 2023-2024

Toastmasters District 53 | Region 9
Serving Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, and Eastern New York
“We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence”

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.

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

Candidates

  • 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 https://d53tm.org/district-officer-candidates/

Presenters:

  • 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

Agenda

TimeEventSpeakers
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
interviewer
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.

Results of Division E Contest

Fellow Toastmasters,

Division E held its speech contests on Saturday, March 2, in Colonie, NY. I am pleased to report the results to you all here:

International

  • 1st Place: Brandon Eastman
  • 2nd Place: Jim Brooks
  • 3rd Place: Barry Koblenz

Evaluation

Division E Contest 2024 dignitaries: Jeff Sobel, Past International Director; Jennifer DeMarco, Area 52 Director; Patti Walter, District Director; Bettyann Peck, Program Quality Director; Elizabeth Keeling, Division E Director; Mohan Padamati, Club Growth Director; Terry Goodemote, Contest Toastmaster
  • 1st Place: Megan Long
  • 2nd Place: Bill Daisak
  • 3rd Place: Marsha Pritchard

First place winners Brandon Eastman and Megan Long will now advance to the District level speech contests on May 10 and 11 at the District 53 Annual Conference in Southbury, CT. Attend the conference to cheer on our Division winners!

Let me remind you that Spring renewals are happening this month. Membership dues for the April 2024 to September 2024 are now being accepted. Please submit all payments on or before April 1. Area Directors will also be reaching out to plan their Spring club visits, please help make arrangements for their visits!

Yours in Service,
Elizabeth Keeling
Division E Director 2023-2024

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.

Source:

  1. https://www.toastmasters.org/magazine/magazine-issues/2020/nov/women-in-toastmasters#:~:text=In 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!

Club Officer Training Ends 2/29/2024!

Hello Fellow Toastmasters!

Club Officer Training ends soon — 2/29/2024!

While District 53’s offerings are now over, there are upcoming COT sessions from across the world that remain in order for anyone needing this Club Officer Training before the Feb. 29th deadline. This is part of Goal #9 in the Distinguished Club Program (DCP) to recognize clubs of excellence — and we’d love to see your club achieve that distinction.

It will take communication, a little bit of time, and maybe even a telephone call or two, but if your clubs are not seven-of-seven officers trained, please encourage each untrained officer to attend one of these sessions!!    Trained officers make stronger clubs, stronger areas, stronger divisions, and a stronger district, which makes Toastmasters a better place for every member!  4/7 trained should be an absolute minimum — and you can check which officers are trained in your club!

Please remind officers that, if they are going to attend another district’s COT, to have them fill out the survey with the details of the club officer’s name, club, division, and role and date trained.

Yours in Toastmasters service,
Bettyann Peck, DTM
District 53 Program Quality Director 2023-2024

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.

February Check-in

Greetings Fabulous Toastmasters,

What a year so far! The Winter session of Club Officer Training is almost over — they have been amazing! These sessions have been amazing — focused on club leaders sharing their experiences and ideas to help others benefit from what they are learning about your roles, as well as very interactive sessions that concentrated on Developing Membership strategies and Increasing Membership Engagement in Pathways.  A huge thanks to the training team that has worked diligently to provide focused and inviting sessions. Don’t miss the last Club Officer Training session on Monday, February 19th at 6pm and don’t hesitate to bring your club members to this event as well, we encourage it!

Area Contests results are announced and the winning contestants are moving on to the Division contests now taking place throughout the district. Watching the continued growth of the contestants, applying what they have learned as Toastmasters, stretching outside comfort zones is incredibly inspiring. It’s a thrill to be part of these exciting events in our District and we welcome all members to be part of it, not just as a contestant. Consider being a judge, ballot counter, timer or a Sargeant-at-Arms! You can volunteer by contacting your Division Directors (ABCDE) Winners of the Division Evaluation & International Speech Contests will move on to compete at the District level happening at our Annual District Conference on Friday, May 10th and Saturday May 11th!

Conference Co-Chairs Richard E. Peck, DTM, PIP and David Freedman, DTM have announced “BREAKING BARRIERS” as the theme for our 2024 Annual Conference celebrating 100 Years of Toastmasters, that will feature Accredited Speaker Sheryl Roush, DTM as our Keynote Speaker! The District Evaluation Speech Contest  will be held on Friday evening, May 10th. The events on Saturday, May 11th will include breakfast and lunch in conjunction with our Keynote Speaker Sheryl Roush, DTM AS, a wide variety of Education Sessions and Workshops presented by members of District 53, The Hall of Fame, Inductions of newly elected District Officers, the presentation of the Communication and Leadership Award (nominations still being accepted) and of course the District International Speech Contest in the afternoon on Saturday, May 11th! Early Bird specials are still available for you to attend!

The District Leadership Training session I attended in January, along with District Director Patti Walter and Club Growth Director Mohan Padamati, along with District leaders from regions around the world was an amazing learning and development event. It was jam-packed with two days of intense workshops for the sole purpose of helping us, to help our members succeed in this second half of our Toastmasters year. What we learned and strategized over, reinforced the reasons we all choose to serve in our varied roles, and we are always just a phone call away!

Yours in Toastmasters Service,
Bettyann Peck, DTM
Program Quality Director 2023-2024