Meet your future District Leaders – Thursday, May 2

6:00 pm Alaska Time / 7:00 pm Pacific.

Candidates for Districtwide Directors

Melissa Jean

Melissa Jean

My Toastmasters journey began in 2014 when I became an Untwisted Tongues Toastmasters member. My leadership odyssey began when a PQD tapped my shoulder and said, “You’re ready to lead. Step forward as a conference co-chair.” I have come to realize growth and comfort zone are incongruent. Transitioning in and through each Toastmasters Leadership role has expanded my leadership, project management, and communication skills. Each growth opportunity has enhanced my emotional intelligence, aiding with crafting successful outcomes. I believe in being the example, demonstrating how Toastmasters can help everyone achieve their goals.

In your opinion, what are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
Member Recruitment and Retention – The Toastmasters organizational success is dependent on membership. An opportunity to recruit new members is emphasizing job skills sought by employers: interpersonal, leadership and project management. Member engagement in their clubs and the District is needed for D32’s continued success. Asking others about their vision and mission, improves collaboration and TEAM work. Team members’ insight and skills create a better final product. Sharing expectations and providing action due dates help keep everyone on track. Delegating provides everyone an opportunity to grow. I believe my life experiences, leadershp, and project managment competencies contribute a unique perspecive. I am able to communicae challenging topics in an easy to understand manner, improving the audience’s perception and acceptance of the information being shared.

Being the example, and sharing how Toastmasters has helped me personally and professionally is how I’ll work to achieve the District’s mission.

Brian Bezenek, DTM


 

I define myself as a servant leader. I get a feeling of accomplishment when I am assisting others to acheive their goals. I have learned that an organized team is much more proficient than a solo person. I have served the District the last few years organizing the contests and training. I also assited in putting on the YACT conference in Juneau, Alaska. I was the secretary during the merging of YACT into District 32. I tend to set high expectations for myself, what I perceive are the responsibilies of the job at hand, even though what I am doing/have done is probably more than what the job requires or what others expect of me. Serving as a District leader is an opprotunity to push my comfort zone, to grow my self-confidence and level-up my leadership skills.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
Member retention and growth is a key item. Making sure members are engaged and learning in the Pathways program. Toastmasters is a useful organization with much to offer people. We need to get the word out. There are lots of teams and organizations out there who can benefit from Toastmasters. Finding out what teams and organizations our current members belong to, and asking them to be liason to those organizations and industries. Then reaching out and setting up meetings to show what Toastmasters can do for their team. For organizations like the military where people rotate out frequently, we need to keep reaching out to the leaders, ask for referrals, and seek opportunities to meet incoming personnel to demonstrate what Toastmasters has to offer them.

One of the greatest challenges the District faces as we move back to more in-person events is the cost. How are we going to afford to put on these events effectively? To ensure we don’t burn out the small pool of past and current volenteers, we need to develop new people who are willing to step up to do the job. Realizing that we may have smaller turnouts when we start having in-person events, hopefully the move will reignight the passion and energy of our members.

I want to see the people around me achieve their goals. The role of the Program Quality Director is one I feel my Toastmasters journey has best prepared me to take on. Stepping forward now, I will be the servant leader who willingly takes others on my back to help them climb the hill to achieve their goals.

 

Michael Miller

 

Toastmasters has been one of the few places where I have been able to have a clear blueprint to achieve my goals. I am a father of five children, ranging from 9-years of age to 17-years (going on 40). I have really enjoyed the chance to improve my leadership and speaking skills through participation with Toastmasters International. I have led Club, Area, and Division speech contests and helped plan other District events. I have enjoyed the friendships and socializing at different Toastmaster events.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
I believe a major objective for our district is to help each club achieve its own individual club goals. If chosen as a district officer, I will help each club with their own individual success plans and help answer any questions they may have. As Club Growth Director my job will be to help clubs grow, which I have done with Capital Club. We currently have over 20 members with nine of ten goals met already for this year. As we move back to in-person events, the greatest challenge will be geography – making sure clubs are aligned geographically to facilitate attendance in live events and participation in contests. I’m excited because you get more participation in the live events. For example last year we had eight areas working together to put on a combined contest for only few contestants. This year we had two areas in a combined contest and had eight people compete in an online/hybrid format.

I have learned from past leadership positions the importance of active listening. I have learned there are many ways to accomplish goals, and how to work with individuals from many different backgrounds to accomplish those goals. I have really enjoyed my experience working with and serving others who are trying to achieve better public speaking and leadership skills. I would like to serve as a district leader to help clubs reach their goals, and give them a new perspective on what can help them.

What I love about Toastmasters is what you put in is what you get out of it, whether it is through zoom or in-person. I consider Toastmasters my second and third families. I’m willing to do what it takes to help my Toastmasters’ family.

Talisa Thomas-Hall, DTM

 

As a business owner of The Center for Effective Organizations (The CEO), I am hired to guide other organizations through the process of developing board, staff and opperational procedures, strategies  and processes. My experience encompasses over 30 years developing strategic, marketing, outreach, and member growth/engagement plans. As a senior team leader working within multi-million dollar mission-driven organizations, including: National Association of College Admisions Counseling, National Association of Community Health Centers, and College and University Professional Association of Human Resources, I am well aware of the intricacies of leading member-driven organizations. . Previous Toastmasters experiences, have taught me that leadership is a team effort; you are only as successful as your team. Acknowledgement of others’ contributions is a powerful motivator. Therefore I aspire to learn with an intent to mentor others and always have a successor in preparation. Lastly, I seek to understand, understand to share, and share to help others succeed.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?

The District’s mission is to build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence. With this in mind, as the Club Growth Director my major focus will be to work with Division and Area Directors to:

  • Identify strategies and/or roadblocks to clubs’ success 
  • Identify and launch new clubs
  • Motivate member engagement to build commitment and enrich the overall member experience
  • Encourage future leaders and Toastmaster ambassadors
  • Support the overall objectives of the D32 leadership team.

I truly believe my skills and experience will benefit the District, and the opportunity will provide me with additional growth. Presently, I’d love to see more members reinvigorated and engaged in District activities at all levels. It would be an honor to help convey and carry out the leaderships’ vision for the success of D32 and its members. I am honored to be considered for this opportunity and look forward to learning more about how I can be an instrument for this District’s use.

Melissa Jean

Melissa Jean

My Toastmasters journey began in 2014 when I became an Untwisted Tongues Toastmasters member. My leadership odyssey began when a PQD tapped my shoulder and said, “You’re ready to lead. Step forward as a conference co-chair.” I have come to realize growth and comfort zone are incongruent. Transitioning in and through each Toastmasters Leadership role has expanded my leadership, project management, and communication skills. Each growth opportunity has enhanced my emotional intelligence, aiding with crafting successful outcomes. I believe in being the example, demonstrating how Toastmasters can help everyone achieve their goals.

In your opinion, what are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
Member Recruitment and Retention – The Toastmasters organizational success is dependent on membership. An opportunity to recruit new members is emphasizing job skills sought by employers: interpersonal, leadership and project management. Member engagement in their clubs and the District is needed for D32’s continued success. Asking others about their vision and mission, improves collaboration and TEAM work. Team members’ insight and skills create a better final product. Sharing expectations and providing action due dates help keep everyone on track. Delegating provides everyone an opportunity to grow. I believe my life experiences, leadershp, and project managment competencies contribute a unique perspecive. I am able to communicae challenging topics in an easy to understand manner, improving the audience’s perception and acceptance of the information being shared.

Being the example, and sharing how Toastmasters has helped me personally and professionally is how I’ll work to achieve the District’s mission.

Brian Bezenek, DTM

I define myself as a servant leader. I get a feeling of accomplishment when I am assisting others to acheive their goals. I have learned that an organized team is much more proficient than a solo person. I have served the District the last few years organizing the contests and training. I also assited in putting on the YACT conference in Juneau, Alaska. I was the secretary during the merging of YACT into District 32. I tend to set high expectations for myself, what I perceive are the responsibilies of the job at hand, even though what I am doing/have done is probably more than what the job requires or what others expect of me. Serving as a District leader is an opprotunity to push my comfort zone, to grow my self-confidence and level-up my leadership skills.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
Member retention and growth is a key item. Making sure members are engaged and learning in the Pathways program. Toastmasters is a useful organization with much to offer people. We need to get the word out. There are lots of teams and organizations out there who can benefit from Toastmasters. Finding out what teams and organizations our current members belong to, and asking them to be liason to those organizations and industries. Then reaching out and setting up meetings to show what Toastmasters can do for their team. For organizations like the military where people rotate out frequently, we need to keep reaching out to the leaders, ask for referrals, and seek opportunities to meet incoming personnel to demonstrate what Toastmasters has to offer them.

One of the greatest challenges the District faces as we move back to more in-person events is the cost. How are we going to afford to put on these events effectively? To ensure we don’t burn out the small pool of past and current volenteers, we need to develop new people who are willing to step up to do the job. Realizing that we may have smaller turnouts when we start having in-person events, hopefully the move will reignight the passion and energy of our members.

I want to see the people around me achieve their goals. The role of the Program Quality Director is one I feel my Toastmasters journey has best prepared me to take on. Stepping forward now, I will be the servant leader who willingly takes others on my back to help them climb the hill to achieve their goals.

Michael Miller

Toastmasters has been one of the few places where I have been able to have a clear blueprint to achieve my goals. I am a father of five children, ranging from 9-years of age to 17-years (going on 40). I have really enjoyed the chance to improve my leadership and speaking skills through participation with Toastmasters International. I have led Club, Area, and Division speech contests and helped plan other District events. I have enjoyed the friendships and socializing at different Toastmaster events.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
I believe a major objective for our district is to help each club achieve its own individual club goals. If chosen as a district officer, I will help each club with their own individual success plans and help answer any questions they may have. As Club Growth Director my job will be to help clubs grow, which I have done with Capital Club. We currently have over 20 members with nine of ten goals met already for this year. As we move back to in-person events, the greatest challenge will be geography – making sure clubs are aligned geographically to facilitate attendance in live events and participation in contests. I’m excited because you get more participation in the live events. For example last year we had eight areas working together to put on a combined contest for only few contestants. This year we had two areas in a combined contest and had eight people compete in an online/hybrid format.

I have learned from past leadership positions the importance of active listening. I have learned there are many ways to accomplish goals, and how to work with individuals from many different backgrounds to accomplish those goals. I have really enjoyed my experience working with and serving others who are trying to achieve better public speaking and leadership skills. I would like to serve as a district leader to help clubs reach their goals, and give them a new perspective on what can help them.

What I love about Toastmasters is what you put in is what you get out of it, whether it is through zoom or in-person. I consider Toastmasters my second and third families. I’m willing to do what it takes to help my Toastmasters’ family.

Talisa Thomas-Hall, DTM

As a business owner of The Center for Effective Organizations (The CEO), I am hired to guide other organizations through the process of developing board, staff and opperational procedures, strategies  and processes. My experience encompasses over 30 years developing strategic, marketing, outreach, and member growth/engagement plans. As a senior team leader working within multi-million dollar mission-driven organizations, including: National Association of College Admisions Counseling, National Association of Community Health Centers, and College and University Professional Association of Human Resources, I am well aware of the intricacies of leading member-driven organizations. . Previous Toastmasters experiences, have taught me that leadership is a team effort; you are only as successful as your team. Acknowledgement of others’ contributions is a powerful motivator. Therefore I aspire to learn with an intent to mentor others and always have a successor in preparation. Lastly, I seek to understand, understand to share, and share to help others succeed.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?

The District’s mission is to build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence. With this in mind, as the Club Growth Director my major focus will be to work with Division and Area Directors to:

  • Identify strategies and/or roadblocks to clubs’ success 
  • Identify and launch new clubs
  • Motivate member engagement to build commitment and enrich the overall member experience
  • Encourage future leaders and Toastmaster ambassadors
  • Support the overall objectives of the D32 leadership team.

I truly believe my skills and experience will benefit the District, and the opportunity will provide me with additional growth. Presently, I’d love to see more members reinvigorated and engaged in District activities at all levels. It would be an honor to help convey and carry out the leaderships’ vision for the success of D32 and its members. I am honored to be considered for this opportunity and look forward to learning more about how I can be an instrument for this District’s use.

Candidates for Division Director

Roxanne Strutz, DTM

I have operated my dog grooming small business for 31 years. I currently have two employees that work with me. I am responsible for business records, customer/clientel files, and building operaions and maintenance. I imagine retiring in the next 10-years. Something I’d like to do in the future is working with the Washington State mental health certified peer-counselors group as a facilitator trainer. Serving as a Division Director, working with the Area Directors and Councils will help develope my skills to become a better leader, manager, facilitator trainer.

I want to serve as a District leader to mentor, teach, and coach members tips to becoming confident, efficient, and proficient in the steps necessary to pursue their goals through the experiences of teamwork.

In your opinion, what are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
As the District moves back to in-person contests, cost and finding volunteers will be major issues. I remember what it was like trying to host a contest before Covid. We had very few members willing to volunteer, and few venues that were the right size and free. As a Division Director, I will work early in the year to increase member engagement by promoting intermural club activities, contests, membership development experiences, training through in-person and online venues. 

The first time I served as a Division Director over 10 years ago, I felt a bit lost because I had someone always telling me everything I had to do and when. I was reacting not leading. What I didn’t know at the time was that I needed to ask for help. Since then, I have served as a Area Director twice and currently lead the Coach’s Corner that meets once a month following the Director Status Meetings. I discovered that I could ask fellow leaders for help and actually get it. When contest season rolled around this year, Melissa Jean was having to serve double duty as Program Quality Director and Acting-Division A Director. I felt the need to step up and facilitate hosting the combined Division contests, knowing I had a resource I could turn to for help.

Communication is king in leadership – in order to work toward a common goal and stop problems before they occur. I have learned these last few years how to run a club, how to plan and host events. I have and am still learning how to run online meetings and events. I now feel better prepared to step up and serve the District as Division A Director. 

Judy Stein

 

 

I strive to meet people where they are. That is why I really like Toastmasters. I enjoy the camaraderie and have made very close friends. The most valuable lesson I have learned from previous leadership positions is communicate, communicate, communicate. Listen, listen, listen. I know listening is part of communicating, but it is the most important part of leadership. To be an effective leader, I will need to listen (and follow) in order to communicate differently for differnt people. By joining leadership and sharing established practices (and creating new ones), I hope I can help people and clubs reach their goals.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
I am excited to assist the District moving back to in-person contests; however, it comes with a set of challenges we have not faced in a while. Coodinating with fuctionaries without an in-person dry run, and sometimes not communicating with contestants until the day of the contest. As a Contest Chair these last few years, I have modified a contest script developed by the Nerdmasters. I’ve passed this script to every functionary for every contest I’ve chaired. I’ve also created emails to send to functionaires and to contestants, so everyone is on the same page. Because of the procedures laid out in my emails, I’ve been able to “not” hold a contestant dry run. By the time contestants reach Division and District contests, they pretty much know what’s going on. For in-person contests it will be more critical to communicate and coordinate with functionaries – making sure everything is laid out before the day of the contests.

As a Division Director, my goals are to increase membership, keep clubs engaged and working toward meeting Distinguished Club goals. For a Division Director, it’s important to meet regularly with Area Directors, answer (and find answers) to their questions, and keep them on track for club success plans and club visits. While I admit to not knowing what is involved in starting up new clubs, I am willing to learn how one goes about finding prospects for building new clubs and growing our membership.

 

Cynthia Sanderson, DTM

 

I am a mid-level manager at a Washington state agency that certifies renovations of pre-1978 homes, ensuring their projects do not leave poisionous lead residues that will harm children. As part of my job I held for the last 16-years, I do strategic planning as part of the job, including developing a five year plan, how to get more funding from the legislature to stregthen our program and rulemaking. Daily, I work on a team and collaborate across the agency, across sister agencies and with the federal government. I currently supervise two people, but I would like to advance in my career by taking on a bigger role. Serving as a Division Director will help me develop leadership and human resource skills needed to move up in management.

Besides work, I have participated in planning how to get to Distinguished Club status for Commerce Communicators. My first year as President, we achieved President’s Distinguished. The lessons I have learned from previous leadership positions is how to carefully motivate people to want to do their best and achieve their goals. As a Pathways Guide, I learned people can be intimidated by change. Making it fun and breaking down difficult concepts went a long way to easing member fears.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them
One of the District’s major objectives is not only to attact new members, but to maintain the ones we already have. We lost a lot of people both due to the pandemic but also the release of Pathways. A lot of our elderly members quit because they did not want to go electronic. I would work to achieve the Districts mission by supporting my Area Directors, ensuring that clubs are living up to the Toastmasters brand and mission. To achieve our objectives means to lead by example, ensuring everyone knows what to expect and they have the tools and skills needed to succeed. Helping the District grow clubs may be as simple as bringing back some government agency clubs that closed because members could not meet in-person and they didn’t want to go online.

I believe a major challenge the District faces as we move back to in-person District events is having the ability to physically get together because our members are scattered from all over the world. In my Sound Advice and Laugh Lab Storymasters Clubs we have members from not only different states, we have members from different countires and continents. The challenge will be to make sure those who cannot travel to attend District events still feel included and not excluded. I think one way we can be more inclusive for example, is the 2023 Conference Experience package members could purchase last year. It included pencils, post-it notes, and sun glasses. Then throughout the Conference folks were encouraged to put on their glasses and such, making hybrid events more interactive.

I look forward to growing my leadership skills by diligently discharging my duties as Division Director. Thank you for this opprotunity.

There is no candidate for this position. If you are interested in serving in as Division E/F Director, please submit an application to dd@d32toastmasters.org.

Roxanne Strutz, DTM

I have operated my dog grooming small business for 31 years. I currently have two employees that work with me. I am responsible for business records, customer/clientel files, and building operaions and maintenance. I imagine retiring in the next 10-years. Something I’d like to do in the future is working with the Washington State mental health certified peer-counselors group as a facilitator trainer. Serving as a Division Director, working with the Area Directors and Councils will help develope my skills to become a better leader, manager, facilitator trainer.

I want to serve as a District leader to mentor, teach, and coach members tips to becoming confident, efficient, and proficient in the steps necessary to pursue their goals through the experiences of teamwork.

In your opinion, what are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
As the District moves back to in-person contests, cost and finding volunteers will be major issues. I remember what it was like trying to host a contest before Covid. We had very few members willing to volunteer, and few venues that were the right size and free. As a Division Director, I will work early in the year to increase member engagement by promoting intermural club activities, contests, membership development experiences, training through in-person and online venues. 

The first time I served as a Division Director over 10 years ago, I felt a bit lost because I had someone always telling me everything I had to do and when. I was reacting not leading. What I didn’t know at the time was that I needed to ask for help. Since then, I have served as a Area Director twice and currently lead the Coach’s Corner that meets once a month following the Director Status Meetings. I discovered that I could ask fellow leaders for help and actually get it. When contest season rolled around this year, Melissa Jean was having to serve double duty as Program Quality Director and Acting-Division A Director. I felt the need to step up and facilitate hosting the combined Division contests, knowing I had a resource I could turn to for help.

Communication is king in leadership – in order to work toward a common goal and stop problems before they occur. I have learned these last few years how to run a club, how to plan and host events. I have and am still learning how to run online meetings and events. I now feel better prepared to step up and serve the District as Division A Director. 

 

Judy Stein

I strive to meet people where they are. That is why I really like Toastmasters. I enjoy the camaraderie and have made very close friends. The most valuable lesson I have learned from previous leadership positions is communicate, communicate, communicate. Listen, listen, listen. I know listen is part of communicate, but it is the most important part of leadership. To be an effective leader, I will need to listen (and follow) in order to communicate differently for differnt people. By joining leadership and sharing extablished practices (and creating new ones), I hope I can help people and clubs reach their goals.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them?
I am excited to assist the District moving back to in-person contests; however, it comes with a set of challenges we have not faced in a while. Coodinating with fuctionaries without an in-person dry run, and sometimes not communicating with contestants until the day of the contest. As a Contest Chair these last few years, I have modified a contest script developed by the Nerdmasters. I’ve passed this script to every functionary for every contest I’ve chaired. I’ve also created emails to send to functionaires and to contestants, so everyone is on the same page. Because of the procedures laid out in my emails, I’ve been able to “not” hold a contestant dry run. By the time contestants reach Division and District contests, they pretty much know what’s going on. It will be more critical to communicate and coordinate with functionaries – making sure everything is laid out before the day of the contests.

As a Division Director, my goals are to increase membership, keep clubs engaged and working toward meeting Distinguished Club goals. For a Division Director, it’s important to meet regularly with Area Directors, answer (and find answers) to their questions, and keep them on track for club success plans and club visits. While I admit to not knowing what is involved in starting up new clubs, I am willing to learn how one goes about finding prospects for building new clubs and growing our membership.

 

Cynthia Sanderson, DTM

I am a mid-level manager at a Washington state agency that certifies renovations of pre-1978 homes, ensuring their projects do not leave poisionous lead residues that will harm children. As part of my job I held for the last 16-years, I do strategic planning as part of the job, including developing a five year plan, how to get more funding from the legislature to stregthen our program and rulemaking. Daily, I work on a team and collaborate across the agency, across sister agencies and with the federal government. I currently supervise two people, but I would like to advance in my career by taking on a bigger role. Serving as a Division Director will help me develop leadership and human resource skills needed to move up in management.

Besides work, I have participated in planning how to get to Distinguished Club status for Commerce Communicators. My first year as President, we achieved President’s Distinguished. The lessons I have learned from previous leadership positions is how to carefully motivate people to want to do their best and achieve their goals. As a Pathways Guide, I learned people can be intimidated by change. Making it fun and breaking down difficult concepts went a long way to easing member fears.

What are the District’s major objectives and how will you work to achieve them
One of the District’s major objectives is not only to attact new members, but to maintain the ones we already have. We lost a lot of people both due to the pandemic but also the release of Pathways. A lot of our elderly members quit because they did not want to go electronic. I would work to achieve the Districts mission by supporting my Area Directors, ensuring that clubs are living up to the Toastmasters brand and mission. To achieve our objectives means to lead by example, ensuring everyone knows what to expect and they have the tools and skills needed to succeed. Helping the District grow clubs may be as simple as bringing back some government agency clubs that closed because members could not meet in-person and they didn’t want to go online.

I believe a major challenge the District faces as we move back to in-person District events is having the ability to physically get together because our members are scattered from all over the world. In my Sound Advice and Laugh Lab Storymasters Clubs we have members from not only different states, we have members from different countires and continents. The challenge will be to make sure those who cannot travel to attend District events still feel included and not excluded. I think one way we can be more inclusive for example, is the 2023 Conference Experience package members could purchase last year. It included pencils, post-it notes, and sun glasses. Then throughout the Conference folks were encouraged to put on their glasses and such, making hybrid events more interactive.

I look forward to growing my leadership skills by diligently discharging my duties as Division Director. Thank you for this opprotunity.

There is no candidate for this position. If you are interested in serving in as Division E/F Director, please submit an application to dd@d32toastmasters.org.