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 https://d53tm.org/district-conference/

Patti

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!

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.

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 nomination@d53tm.org from this point forward — Nominations are due by February 15, this week! John can be reached separately at ipdd@d53tm.org, 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 ClubExtChair@d53tm.org.

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

February Update from the DD

Hello District Members,

Can you believe that it is February already?  I hope that the New Year is treating you all well… but this is a busy time of year for everyone, and Toastmasters is no exception!

Our second round of Officer Training is just about to wrap up: If you haven’t attended you can join us on 19 February 2024.  If you are an officer, please make attempt to attend a training.  It is proven clubs are more successful when their officers attend training. You do not need to be an officer to join us.  These sessions are open to all.

Speaking of training… your District trio — Bettyann Peck, Mohan Padamati, and I — attended District Leaders Training the last weekend in January in Dallas, TX!  We spent all day Saturday and Sunday working together, and with others across the world, strategizing to have a successful second half of the year! We brainstormed about membership retention, new members, hybrid meetings and business meetings. We had discussions around accountability and reviewed our plans to help YOU achieve success. We even had a snowball fight!  I am including a few pictures of our weekend.  See if you can find your leaders in the group picture.

On top of coordinating training, your PQD Bettyann Peck is working with David Freedman and Richard Peck to bring you a great Annual Conference in May“Breaking Barriers”. We are fortunate to have Accredited Speaker Sheryl Roush DTM, as our keynote speaker!

All of our Club and Area Level Contests are now over. My thanks to our Area Directors who did a great job recruiting functionaries and judges; a number of people applied their participation in these events toward completion of Pathways goals, too! In all, twenty-three Areas held live, in-person contests, sometimes in conjunction with other Areas — What a great feat! This has not happened since January 2019, before COVID. You can find Area Contest results posted here.

The next step is our Division Contests.  Our Division Directors have found facilities to hold their division contests, and a schedule is available here. I hope that you will be able to attend one or two of them.  We have some great speakers in our district; I am sure they would love your support. Also, there are many judge and functionary roles that still need to be filled out. Contact your Division Director through their pages (ABCDE) for more information. 

A special thank you to our Chief Judge, Beth VanKempen who has been diligently review all material and ensuring that our Area and District Directors had the proper scripts and paperwork available.  Thanks Beth, we appreciate all the time you put into this position.

Our CGD, Mohan Padamati is also busy creating a great team of people to support him with establishing new clubs, and club coaching.  

I also would like to take a minute to thank some of your other district team on a great job that they are doing.  Eleni Solar has taken on the challenge of being Audit Committee chair. She is working with her team and our District Finance Manager Glendalys Ramos to make sure our finances are all in tack. Our Technical Team, consisting of Public Relations Manager Zachary Fisk and webmaster Andrew B. Watt DTM, work daily to make sure you as members are informed of what is going on in our district and all around us.  Thank you Zach for updating the newsletter and for keeping it and our Facebook site up-to-date.   Andrew thank you for you quick turnaround to get things posted on the website and also keeping the pages looking fresh.

My special thanks go out to to Immediate Past District Director John J. Hogan DTM for creating and leading the District Leadership Committee by looking for and interviewing candidates to serve as elected district officers for 2024-2025. for next year.  It is not to late for anyone who is thinking of taking a leadership position to apply.  Is this your next hardest thing???  Information on this can be found here, or reach out to John if you have any questions. 

I have always said it takes a village and we have a very special villager, that keeps the Sr. Team on point. He makes sure all our deadlines are met; he does all the pre-work to get our business meetings running smoothly; and he also assists with every district Zoom meeting we have:  Norm Thibodeau DTM , thank you for your countless hours you donate to help us all.

The team is looking forward to ending the season strong.  Reach out if we can assist you in  any way.

Most Sincerely,
Patti Walter DTM
District Director 2023-2024

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

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

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

Episode 3: Patti Walter

Our Members Matter with Patti Walter, PQD

Meet Patti Walter, the 2022-2023 D53 Program Quality Director! Get to know Patti and learn about her Toastmasters and leadership journeys. She openly shares why she considered embracing district leadership and her motivations behind supporting not only her friends and colleagues but all the clubs, areas, and divisions within our District.

Interested in being a guest at one of Patti’s clubs? Find out more information below!
Prospeakers
Blue Chip Toastmasters

Interested in learning more about leadership roles and opportunities, email us at pqd@d53tm.org

From the PQD – 22 May 2023

D53 had its first successful hybrid conference.  SPRINGBOARD to Success. What a great weekend! If you were not able to join us, let me recap what we did.

After a continental breakfast at the Springfield Sheraton — Monarch Place hotel on Saturday 6 May 2023, we jumped right in with our Keynote Speaker Joe Grondin. Joe spoke about developing our signature: how do you develop your own unique voice and presentation style?

Our members then were able to choose one of our three great breakout sessions to attend. Thank your Mary Cheyne, Ann Canfield and Heather LaPierre for your great sessions. 

We continued after our breakout with our tall tale contest. Boy do we have members who can tell some tales.  Our D53 Tall Tales Winners were:

  1. Christine Austin
  2. Poonam Hassija
  3. Kevin Haven

Then at lunch we presented our Communication and Leadership Award to Patricia Nicolari, founder and executive director of PROUD Academy.  Patricia spoke about the work that she does with passion and conviction, demonstrating again why she deserved our recognition and honor.

After lunch we continued on with our second set of breakout session. Again we had great sessions from Heather Turner, Steve Lanning and Stephanie Roy.  Thank you all.

After a break, Joe Grondin returned to the stage as he talked to us about Mrs. Elliot’s  Lessons. Joe shared with us the four leadership lessons his favorite teacher taught him at a time he needed it most.   Joe also shared some great memories he had with his students and family.  Both his sessions were educational, relatable and entertaining.

We concluded the afternoon session with the hall of fame awards for both the 2022-2023 and 2021-2022 program years. Congratulations to the following recipients of the awards for 2021-2022

  • Division Director of the Year Beth Van Kempen
  • Area Director of the Year Elizabeth Keeling
  • Toastmaster of the Year Jackie Kessler

We also announce the 2022-2023 award winners. They are:

  • Division Director of the Year Chad Babcock
  • Area Director of the Year Stephanie Roy
  • Toastmaster of the Year  Elizabeth Keeling

At the conclusion of the Hall of Fame, our International Director for Region 9, who represents us to the Toastmasters Board, Jeff Sobel DTM, swore into office the following District 53 officers for the 2023-2024 Toastmasters International program year:

  • Patti Walter, DTM  — District Director
  • Bettyann Peck, DTM — Program Quality Director
  • Mohan Padamati, DTM — Club Growth Director
  • Stephanie Roy — Division A Director
  • Ebru Unal — Division B Director
  • Selina Torjee — Division C Director
  • Mark Wing — Division D Director
  • Elizabeth Keeling — Division E Director

Congratulations to all!

A happy hour followed, then a wonderful dinner.  Our after-dinner entertainment was brought to you by our Division International Speech Contest Winners, as they competed for the title of District 53’s International Speech Contest championship.   These five came to the contest ready to go! Congratulations to all our contestants at club, Area, Division, and District levels.

Our winners were:

  1. Michael Whitehouse
  2. Donna Plen
  3. Craig Moore

We concluded on Sunday with a warm breakfast, out of this park networking and a final keynote from Joe,  who left us all dancing in our chairs.

You might be saying, “Oh, I missed you all!” Don’t worry… we were having to much fun to notice you weren’t there. But you can join us in May 2024, when the next amazing conference rolls around! Buy your ticket in February, and I’ll see you there!

In the meantime please join us for some officer training coming up in June and July, or join us for Train the Trainer sessions if you’d like to be a facilitator this year.  Psst— you don’t need to be an officer to go to training!  It is open to all.  

Yours in Toastmasters service,
Patti Walter, DTM —
Program Quality Director, 2022-2023

Train the Trainers Events

District Program Quality Director Patti Walter, DTM, is pleased to announce trainings for interested persons who would like to help facilitate the Club Officer Training sessions during the June to August 2023 training season — Train the Trainers!

The Train the Trainers sessions, for people willing to be facilitators for the Club Officer Trainings in June, July and August 2023, will take place on:

  • May 25, 2023 at 6:30 pm (Zoom link below)
  • May 30, 2023 at 6:30 pm (Zoom link below)

Facilitators…

  • give keynote addressess
  • lead conversations on officer roles in the club
  • facilitate sharing between people new to roles and old hands
  • guide and direct new club officers in their duties
  • help draw wisdom and experience from those who’ve done this role before

The skills you learn as a facilitator include…

  • Giving a presentation from an outline and script you did not create;
  • learning to make a canned presentation your own
  • managing time in an hour-long presentation
  • managing an audience which isn’t just your club’s members

As a facilitator, or a facilitator-in-training, you also…

  • make contacts beyond your own club
  • learn to hear from a diversity of voices
  • learn to summarize and synthesize a range of opinions quickly
  • learn your own role in the club from other Toastmasters in different situations

Join an upcoming Train the Trainer session, and contribute to your club, Area, Division and District’s success!

Topic: Train the Trainer
Time: This is a recurring meeting Meet anytime

Join Zoom Meeting