Table of Contents

Photo of Jennifer Kibicho
Jennifer Kibicho, DTM - District Director

District 35 Platinum Year: Remember, Rejoice, Recommit

This year, our District celebrated a milestone event—70 years as a District! We celebrated this milestone in a Gala event on November 19th. Sixty-six people attended in person and nearly 20 online. Below I’ll share some highlights from the Gala, which included remembering and recognizing long-time members and District 35 leaders.  Then I’ll reflect on rejoicing with other Toastmasters in their celebrations and end with how District 35 is committed to present and future Toastmasters.

Highlights from our November 19, 2022 District 35 Gala Celebration

Toastmasters International Director Monnica Rose, DTM, gave the Keynote address entitled “Platinum Leadership: Decide, Commit, Be Accountable”.

Three Masters of Ceremonies led us through the 3 themes for the Gala:

  • Remember: Justin Gottfried, DTM, Past District Director, Past International Director (PID)
  • Rejoice: Kofi Abaidoo, CC, Past Area Director
  • Recommit: Kathrine Yets, VC5, Public Relations Manager

We celebrated the following clubs and individuals who had gone above and beyond to support the Club and District Mission.

District 35’s Oldest Clubs

Clubs that Pre-date Our District:

  • La Crosse Area Toastmasters Club
  • Fond Du Lac Toastmasters Club 498
  • Stevens Point Toastmasters Club
  • Allis Chalmers Toastmasters
  • Oconomowoc Toastmasters Club
  • Milwaukee Metro Speakers Club

We also celebrate the following 2 clubs that turned 70 years old this year!

  • Racine Club
  • Waukesha Toastmasters Club


District 35 Members with 50+ Years of Membership

It was a treat meeting Bob Henning at the District 35 Gala Celebration. Bob joined Toastmasters on October 1, 1972, when the 6-month membership fee was $12. Bob has faithfully paid his dues over 100 times in the last 50 years!

Here is a complete list of Toastmasters who have held our District together for 50 plus years!




Club Name



Harvey Hoernke, DTM

Southshore Toastmasters Club



Doug Traastad, ATM, CL

Coulee Region Toastmasters



Ed Heys, ACS***

Racine Club



Bob Henning, IP1**

Wausau Morning Toastmasters Club


*** Remained in original club

District 35 Above and Beyond: Answering the Call

Supporting the Club Mission

Individual Member Sponsorships—30 or more sponsorships!

  • Brian J. Cychosz, DTM (35)
  • Kathy Lynn Shine, DTM (35)
  • Laurie A. Baker, DTM (30)


Club Leadership Positions—More than 30 times!

  • Ed Thelen, DTM (55)
  • Theresa Flynn, DTM (47)
  • Kathy Shine, DTM (44)
  • Wayne Hanson, DTM (39)
  • Michael Dill, DTM (38)
  • Justin Gottfreid, DTM (37)
  • Laurie Baker, DTM (33)


Supporting the District Mission

Area Director—served 3 times!

  • Theresa Flynn, DTM,
  • Richard Hawley, DTM, PID
  • Laura Croft, DTM
  • Larry Penke, IP1


Division Director—served 2 times!

  • Robert Wall, DTM
  • Amy Linn-Strosin, DTM
  • Robin Cosgrove, VC5
  • Deborah Ginsburg, DTM
  • Theresa Flynn, DTM


District Leadership Positions—More than 5 times!

  • Kris Pool, DTM (8)
  • Ed Thelen, DTM (7)
  • Cindy Laatsch, DTM (7)
  • Ronda Borowski, DTM (6)
  • Keith Cumiskey, DTM (6)
  • Theresa Flynn, DTM (6)


As this year comes to a close, and yet another year dawns upon us, let us:

  • Remember our Toastmasters Promise
  • Rejoice over the personal and professional growth and development we have experienced individually and collectively
  • Recommit to pursuing our goals and serving our fellow Clubs, Areas, and Divisions, and ultimately the District.

Creating Community through Celebration

This Fall, I had the pleasure of attending 3 Club-level events where I saw firsthand the beauty of creating community.  

  • In October, Eastside Madison Toastmasters celebrated 4 years straight of being a Distinguished Club, of which 3 years were as a President’s Distinguished Club. This celebration was a Pathways Project in which Don Barbieri completed a Level 5 Motivational Strategies Project on Team Building by working with a team of his club members to plan and execute an important club milestone event.
  • On December 1, I had the distinct honor of attending for the second time the Stevens Point Toastmasters Club’s Holiday Speaktacular celebration, which has been an annual tradition for over 10 years. Other nearby clubs in the Northern Division are also invited to attend and participate.
  • On December 8, Waukesha Toastmasters Club held a 70th Anniversary celebration that brought together both past and current members of this club that was chartered a few months after our District 35 was formed.

If your club is celebrating a milestone anniversary next year, consider organizing a celebration event and inviting past and current members and special guests. This might be an excellent opportunity to showcase Toastmasters and recruit new members.

District 35 2022-2025 Strategic Plan

Our Trio team—Jason Feucht, Program Quality Director, and Robert Wall, Club Growth Director, and myself—have been working on the 2022-2025 District 35 Strategic Plan. It has the following elements: We need to ensure that No Member Is Left Behind and we are Intentionally Sharing the Power and the Promise of Toastmasters with our neighbors and friends. In doing all of that, we fulfill our Strategic Stewardship of inspiring, empowering, and mentoring the next generation of leaders so that we safely pass on the baton, to ensure that both your local Toastmasters Club and District 35 will still be on the map and thriving 70 years from now! Let us recommit to keeping the fire burning, and in turn, pass on the torch to the next generation.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2023 to you!

Jason Feucht, DTM - Program Quality Director

A Message from Your Program Quality Director

Greetings District 35 Toastmasters,

It is hard to believe we are almost halfway through the Toastmasters Year and are nearing the end of 2022.

It’s a great time to reflect on where you are as a club and as an individual on both your club and personal goals.

For your club, now would be a great time to plan for a Moments of Truth and an open house early in the new year. It’s a great time to assess if your meetings are both educational and enjoyable. Look at how all your members are doing against their educational goals, and how your club is doing against the Distinguished Club Program. Don’t forget to also plan to attend Winter Club Officer Training. TLI Dean, Teri McGregor and the Division Directors are putting together some great training to help you help your clubs – watch for more information in this newsletter and the weekly news.

For yourself, how are you doing on your personal goals? If you have not set a personal Toastmasters Goal, it’s never too late to do so. Set something that will help you hold yourself accountable yet is attainable. Perhaps strive to give one speech per quarter and hold a role in every meeting you attend. Now is also a great time to think about what’s next for you as a Toastmaster – do you have new educational goals? Have you considered Club or even District Leadership? The opportunities in Toastmasters are endless.

We have a lot of members and Clubs doing some great things so far; here are some highlights:

  • 65 Educational Awards have been earned across the District in October and November, congratulations to all. All Education award recipients are listed later in this Newsletter
  • Congratulations to Immediate Past District Director, Teri McGregor, for completing her Distinguished Toastmaster Award
  • 109 Club Officers were trained in our ‘Early Bird’ Club Officer Training on November 19th
    • I encourage us all to keep up this momentum as we go into the new year, additional information on the Winter TLI and Club officer training is in this newsletter
  • 78 Clubs have earned 1 or more Distinguished Club Program Points
    • 5 of these clubs are at Charter Strength (20) or more
      • NM Speaks! – 32 Members – 2 DCP Points
      • Toast on Tap – 31 Members – 2 DCP Points
      • ROK the Talk – 24 Members – 1 DCP Point
      • Ayers Associates – 21 Members – 1 DCP Point
      • Eclectic Image – 20 Members – 1 DCP Point
    • 8 of these Clubs are Net +3 members
      • Direct Supply Champion Chatters – +5 – 3 DCP Points
      • CNH Industrial Toast Team – +4 – 3 DCP Points
      • Uptowners – +4 – 2 DCP Points
      • Sturgeon Speakers – +4 – 1 DCP Point
      • New AfterHours – +3 – 8 DCP Points
      • Rolling Hills – +3 – 6 DCP Points
      • Coulee Region – +3 – 3 DCP Points
      • Heart Of Eau Claire – +3 – 3 DCP Points
    • 3 Clubs have earned 5 or more DCP points!
      • New Afterhours – +3 – 8 DCP Points
      • Rolling Hills – +3 – 6 DCP Points
      • Cream City Communicators – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net +2 Members


I encourage all members and clubs to keep up the momentum, set a stretch goal to complete education awards, grow membership, and get to 5 DCP Goals by December 31st

Also, if your club is looking for guidance and help remember you are not in this alone, I encourage you to check out the District Sponsored Club Support Seminars. These Bi-monthly sessions are focused on providing tangible information that clubs can use to grow and improve their club quality. Please check them out.

Finally, I want to encourage all of you to take some time during the upcoming Holiday Season to reconnect with family and friends, and take some time for yourself to relax and reenergize for the new year ahead. All the best to you, and your families this Holiday Season and into the New Year!

As always, if you are interested in helping support Training, Contests, the District Conference, or any other aspect of Program Quality, please feel free to reach out to me at

Thank you for your commitment to yourself, though Toastmasters.

Winter Club Officer Training

Winter Toastmasters Leadership Institute

Join us January 21, 2023, from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM for our Winter TLI. This year’s TLI will be an exciting and educational experience. The Program Quality Team is excited to announce our Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Kevin Snyder. Dr. Snyder is a Toastmasters Accredited Speaker, author, and multi-TEDx speaker. Additional sessions will include Moments of Truth, Enjoyable & Educational Meetings, Leading Outside the Club, Club Support Seminars, and Club Officer Breakouts. Watch the weekly news for more details!

Register HERE:


Additional Club Officer Training Opportunities

  • Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
    • This event will be HYBRID, watch the weekly news for more information and registration details!

Speech Contests

Contest Season is here! This year District 35 will be holding the Tall Tales Contest as well as the International Speech Contest. 

Please share your club contest results with your Area Director as soon as possible.

For more information and resources for Contests see:

Contest Formats & Timelines

  • Club Contests – Any Format – Complete PRIOR to 1/15/2023
  • Area Contests – Virtual – 1/16/2023 through 2/28/2023
  • Division Contests – Hybrid – 3/1/2023 through 4/15/2023
  • District Contests – Hybrid held in conjunction with the 2023 D35 Spring Conference at the Abbey Resort on Lake Geneva
    • Tall Tales – Friday 5/5/2023
    • International – Saturday 5/6/2023


Training Recordings:

Club Support Seminars

Is your club (or a club you support) struggling with low membership, low participation, and low meeting quality? If so, plan to attend the District 35 Club Support Seminars, hosted by Past District Director Keith Cumiskey, DTM.

This training series will consist of a team of experienced Toastmasters lending their support to clubs by hosting a series of one-hour sessions focused on building club membership and improving club quality. Each session will consist of a 30-minute presentation on a specific topic, followed by a 30-minute open discussion on that topic.

These sessions are designed to offer tangible help and ideas to support our Districts Clubs.

Sessions are held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 7:00pm-8:00pm. Attendance is open to all, but highly recommended for Club Presidents and Vice Presidents Membership.

Please visit the district calendar for complete scheduling and Zoom link information.

Recordings of prior sessions are also available on the District Website and the District YouTube:



Congratulations to all the Toastmasters in District 35 that have collectively earned 65 Education Awards between October & November. Please check out the District 35 Dashboard for a complete list of Education Awards to date. Here is a list of 6 Pathways Level 5 awards and 1 Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award.


Name, Club & Pathway


Kristine R. Pool, DTM – Sheboygan Club 2121 – Innovative Planning


Kristine R. Pool, DTM – Cream City Communicators – Leadership Development


Teri L. McGregor, DTM – Leading Voices – Distinguished Toastmaster


Teri L. McGregor, DTM – Fond Du Lac Toastmasters Club 498 – Innovative Planning


Laurie Showers – CNH Industrial Toast Team – Presentation Mastery


Kat Yets – SpeakEasy Toastmasters – Visionary Communication


Richard D. Hawley, DTM, PID – Sentry Toastmasters Club – Effective Coaching


photo of Robert Wall
Robert Wall, DTM - Club Growth Director

Let’s Talk About New Members & New Clubs

There are some questions I (and others) have been hearing and thinking about over for the past year or so:

  • Why would we want to start more clubs when existing clubs are struggling?
  • Why not just send new members to existing clubs?
  • Why are you building corporate clubs instead of community clubs?

All of these questions are more than fair. Let me speak to my strategy.

I believe that statements like “this club serves the public in Eau Claire, WI, so it’s a community club” and “this club serves Royal Credit Union employees, so it’s a corporate club” create an interesting distinction.

Yes, one of those clubs serves the public at large. Yes, one of those clubs serves a corporation. But they both do it by either creating or leveraging a micro-community. No matter the type of club, the people know each other. They have each other’s backs. They’re committed to each other’s success. And new members are adopted into that community.

In other words, all successful clubs are community clubs.

If you think of our clubs as “communities” instead of “clubs”, I think the “why” questions fall away. We all understand why having different groups with different cultures can be beneficial.

That leaves us with “how”:

  • How can we bring new individuals into our existing communities?
  • How can we find new communities to serve?

And the answer to both of those questions lies within each and every Toastmaster.

Every Toastmaster has friends, relatives, coworkers, and other acquaintances that could benefit from our program. That’s actually how most people find us – via a personal invitation to a meeting. And in the process of making those invitations, sometimes we discover an existing community that would like a Toastmasters club.

It all starts with somebody making an invitation – and now, it’s your turn to be that “somebody.” “But I don’t know anybody!” you say. I’m betting you know more people than you think you do. And to prove it, I’d like you to do an exercise.

Go here – – and download the PDF. Scroll down to page #5, where you’ll see a list of “memory joggers”. Write down everybody you know that fits into each category, and I bet you’ll have a list of hundreds of people by the time you’re done.

Now….how many of those people know about Toastmasters?

If you wouldn’t wish your uncle Dave on your worst enemy, skip him if you want. You’ll have a few of those. But what about the others? If you and your fellow club members do this exercise, I guarantee you that the members to grow and transform your club are on your lists.

Give them a call. Or send an email, mail a postcard, send a text message, send a Facebook message, or toss a note on their desk. Whatever you do, do something.

And when you’re reaching out to people, eventually somebody will say something like “you know, my company could use this!” Give me their contact info, and I’ll help them make that happen.

It’s not always easy, but it is simple.

Of course, if there’s anything I can do to make it easier for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to support your club’s success!

Welcome WEGOFAR Toastmasters Club

Please join me in welcoming a newly chartered corporate club to our District 35 Toastmasters family. WEGOFAR Toastmasters is a closed corporate club under the auspices of ABC Supplies. Jason Feucht, DTM and Kris Pool, DTM served as the club sponsors, while Lee Samson, IP4 and Robyn Krueger, PM5 are the club mentors.

Promotional Banner Now Available

I’m excited to announce that we now have a promotional banner available to clubs!

This is a 2′ x 6′ banner, intended to be displayed on an x-frame banner stand.

The original prototype of this banner was conceived by Tom Carlson just prior to COVID. The intention was to give clubs a resource that they could display outside meeting locations, at local libraries and businesses, and any other places that would allow them to put up a sign for a period of time.

Unfortunately, for obvious reasons it fell by the wayside as COVID hit and we attempted to navigate “the new normal.”

But now with things reopening and many clubs returning to in-person gatherings, we’ve gotten a design finalized and approved for production by Toastmasters International.

If you’d like to have one of these for promoting your own club, there are two options:

  • Limited-Time Loan – The district will be ordering a small number of these as “loaners” (we anticipate at least one per division), which will feature the Toastmasters’ “Find a Club” link and a QR code linking to that webpage.
  • Club Purchase – If your club would like to purchase a banner for promotional use, we can customize the link and QR code to your club’s website. Cost will be approximately $10 for the banner, and about $25 for the banner stand.


We’re excited for the promotional opportunities these banners open up. If you have any interest in having one to display – either borrowed from the district or a custom-branded one of your own – please reach out to me so that we can get the ball rolling.

Here’s to a successful second half of the Toastmasters year!

Headshot of Keith Cumiskey
Keith Cumiskey, DTM - District Leadership Committee Chair

Nominations are open for District Leadership positions

Most of us enjoy the Toastmaster experience from the welcoming confines of the club experience. Your club officers make the environment happen. But to whom do your club leaders turn for resources and support? Who organizes those fun speech contests, club officer training sessions and events such as Club Support Seminars and District Conference? Who manages the building of new clubs or publicizes Toastmasters throughout the District (state)? Who provides the ongoing strategic direction? The answer to all is … your Toastmaster District leaders.

Serving as a District leader is an exciting opportunity. Your (one-year) term of office is filled with chances to renew your perspective, practice teamwork, and develop your capacity to translate values and strategies into productive actions. Members of your District team will depend on you to help them develop their own goals and achievements. Members see you as a facilitator to their success. You instill a sense of enthusiasm, fidelity, and responsibility in whomever you touch. For most, serving as a District leader is an incredibly rewarding experience.

The Call for Nominations is now open. You don’t need someone to nominate you (most people self-nominate). Both elected and appointed positions are available. For more information, go to the District Leadership page on the District 35 website. Don’t delay.  Send nominations to DLC Chair Keith Cumiskey by February 5, 2023. Evaluation and interviews of nominated candidates will occur in February and March.

Kris Pool, DTM - Convention Chair

Spring Conference 2023 – Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are essential to the success of any event and the Spring Conference 2023 is no exception. I’m asking you to step up and unlock the door to new skills, strengths, and interests, and have fun with a great team.

Additional help is needed for:

  • Registration – staffing at the registration table, coordinating welcome gifts, creating name tags, etc.
  • Technology – assist with A/V, Zoom technology, recording sessions, editing, and uploading videos
  • General Volunteers – help as needed for room monitors, carrying items from cars, setup, takedown, and information
  • Sponsorships and Raffles – help contact businesses and individuals for financial support to offset the costs of the Spring Conference, in-kind donations, and raffle basket items


To volunteer your talents, contact Spring Conference 2023 Chair Kris Pool at or 920-698-0656.

Spring Conference 2023 – Hotel Room Block & Reservations

The time has come to make your hotel room reservations for the 2023 Spring Conference.

Please call 1-800-709-1323 and ask for the Toastmasters District 35 room block rate.

Run of House Room Type (Double) for Friday, May 5, 2023 and Saturday, May 6, 2023 is $169.00. This group rate will be honored for two days before and after based on availability.

Additional persons over age 16 are $15 each, plus tax, per night.

A resort services fee of $15.00 will be added to all rooms per night. The service fee includes the following: local phone calls, toll free calling, use of the 24-hour business center, use of high-speed internet in guest rooms, in-room safes, individual scheduled shuttle service to downtown Lake Geneva, valet parking, weekend campfires, and unlimited use of available sports equipment. Admission to the Avani Spa workout facilities is included, but additional fees may be charged for entrance to the spa pool and treatment facilities.

Check in time:                         4:00 p.m.

Check out time:                       11:00 a.m.

Please note The Abbey Resort is a non-smoking facility. The hotel has a “no pet” policy except in cases of trained service animals with prior notification.

The Abbey Resort

269 Fontana Blvd

Fontana, WI  53125

Photo of Tom Carlson
Tom Carlson, DTM - Vision for a Strong District 35 Leader

A Vision for a Strong District 35

We’ve all noticed recently that membership in our clubs is declining – the average club size is smaller, some clubs are calling it quits, and finding new members seems increasingly difficult. But membership declines in all community organizations started over 20 years ago – Toastmasters included. The Covid-19 pandemic brought the decline into focus and unjustly has taken the blame. An organization such as Toastmasters, which provides the basic human need for self-improvement, has an advantage and can reverse this trend. Now is the time for innovation, and I believe District 35 is ready.   

I dream a lot, often about Toastmasters, because of all the benefits it has brought into my life. Dreams are like clouds in the sky, they come from nowhere, passing by on their way to somewhere. I like to grab a dream, work on it, and maybe it will become a vision. And it has. I shared my Toastmasters vision with Jennifer Kibicho when she was Club Quality Director, and now as our District Director, Jennifer has encouraged me to go for it as the leader of “A Vision for a Strong District 35”.

My vision is based on four pillars:


Every club works toward the ideal 20 members because strength comes from numbers. Marketing help will come from a committee with promotion strengths. I got wonderful news at the Gala 70th Celebration when graphics designer Robert Wall showed me a renewed version of the Vertical Banner I designed in 2018-19 with the help of Teri McGregor and her husband. This project was delayed during the pandemic; now it is finished and has a low price that makes it affordable to every club. See Robert Wall’s article in this newsletter for more information on this exciting promotion opportunity.


This pillar will focus on member participation. New members are often told that, in Toastmasters, they can proceed at a convenient pace. This is certainly not an official suggestion but is followed and I admit that I took advantage of it to the point where ten (or more) years were spent in procrastination – not a good way to spend anyone’s Toastmaster journey. But I was busy with my business, and while I always attended all the club meetings, I didn’t sign up for roles ahead of time and simply helped fill vacant meeting roles as needed. Perhaps you have members who do the same.

With Get in The Game, members are encouraged to reserve meeting roles 2 to 3 meetings ahead. Roles not reserved can be assigned by the V.P. Education with an OPT OUT OPTION based on the requirement that you find someone else to take your place. With 20 members this will be easy to do, and will help members make progress toward goals faster.


Meetings are predictable, as they follow the same agenda format, which contributes to boredom. Every meeting does not have to have the same meeting roles! Meetings can be varied by the Meeting Toastmaster, with several meeting role options to choose from. Some of the current roles may be filled only 4 or 5 times a year, just enough to keep members in tune. Clubs will be encouraged to make meetings more fun and relevant to members.


Everywhere you shop today has rewards which encourage participation. This is a model we can adopt. Points would be established by the club officer. A Scorekeeper records points earned at each meeting for the secretary to track. At the end of 6 or 12 months there would be an event recognizing members for their participation at Club, Area, Division, and District activities, culminating with an event called “Recognition of Achievement.” This can be a club event with invitations sent to family & friends.

Commercial entities work to enhance the bottom line called profit. Community organizations have a bottom line called progress, and it is just as important. The four pillars of this vision are intended to help every club and member progress. Buying into the four pillars supporting the Vision for a Strong District 35 will be optional for each club, but is strongly encouraged. The change that began 20 years ago will continue, perhaps at an accelerated rate. Now is the time to move past the pandemic with innovative ideas and a shared vision.

The Vision for a Strong District 35 is based on the practices of strong clubs and will succeed with the support of all clubs and their members. There are many details to be discussed and your buy-in and support will be needed and much appreciated. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Steve Wittmann, DTM - C3 Area Director & President, Eastside Madison Toastmasters

Celebrate Your Success!

Like many Toastmasters clubs during the past 3 years, Eastside Madison Toastmasters #1366 has been so focused on pivoting to a virtual meeting format and working out the kinks, then switching to hybrid meetings with a new set of kinks, that we’ve neglected to reflect on what we’ve achieved during this tumultuous time. That changed on Monday, October 24th, 2022. You see, we achieved our 4th consecutive year as a Distinguished club, the last 3 years as Presidents’ Distinguished. It was time to celebrate! 

One of our club members, Don, was working on a Team Building project within his Path and volunteered to gather a subcommittee to organize the event. My role would be to speak about what it means to be a Distinguished club, and consume some of the pizza, snacks, and beverages before they disappeared.

With the date and agenda set for the celebration, invitations were sent to members and to our Area Director, Spring Sun; Division Director, Lee Samson; and District Director, Jennifer Kibicho. A total of 24 members and guests attended the celebration. By the end of the evening the pizza was gone, but our enthusiasm and energy were stronger than ever! 

It’s hard to say whether we will repeat this success in 2022-23, but we have the framework and ambition to go far! Regardless of your club’s DCP status, be sure to celebrate successes. Then, build on the successes to reach your goals!

Photo of Paul Arnhold
Paul Arnhold, DTM

Gauging Club Health

How is your club’s health? Recently, I received a form letter from my physician reminding me that it is again time for my annual blood tests. These will be followed by an exam or even a physical as my doctor looks for any signs that don’t look quite right. What really tells the truth are the blood tests. They tell us things we may not sense on the surface or are invisible to the eye of our medical practitioner.

Soon your club will have your second official visit from your Area Directors. Just like your medical provider, he or she will ask specific questions as part of the check up and write a report based on what is visible on the surface. What if there was a blood test of sorts for club health? There actually is. It’s called the “Moments of Truth.” Just like those blood tests we are sent for on an annual basis, Toastmasters recommends “Moments of Truth” as a tool for all clubs

There is a similar tool we are encouraging every member of our District to take advantage of. It is called the Club Checklist. Linked below, we ask every member to complete the short survey and return it your club presidents by your next scheduled meeting date.

Our District has the goal to pursue quality meetings, where everyone experiences the full benefit of our fine organization, that will foster growth from within and outside your clubs. We realize club growth is the number one concern. At every TLI, Toastmasters Leadership Institute, we emphasize the importance of clubs being at minimal charter strength, which is twenty members. The sad truth is there are large percentage of our clubs who are not, many even qualifying for club coaches, clubs with twelve or fewer members. 

A club coach is able to look at a club with a wider scope of vision as all clubs, great or small, wear blinders. Perhaps the membership issue that many perceive is the issue is actually a secondary effect and not the cause. A club coach can help build leadership acumen with the leadership team, may be able to bring fresh ideas, or help identify stumbling blocks.

Consider requesting club coaches, as that must come directly from our clubs. If you have been part of a well-run, successful club, perhaps you might be inclined to give back and volunteer to help others achieve success as a club coach. All to bring value to others.

Let’s make the second half of our Toastmasters year even better and may it serve as a catalyst for an even better next. 


Karen Polege
Karen Polege, DTM

Update on D35 Ukrainian Toastmasters and How You Can Help

Some of you may know that the Eclectic Image Toastmasters club has several Ukrainian members. They are all safe. Yarina is now in the Czech Republic, where she is taking classes for a master’s degree. Fedir and his mother are safe in the UK, after a harrowing escape from Ukraine that included two weeks of hiding in the basement of a house that had a tank parked in the front yard. Gulnar is in Canada, and Tetiana (Tati) is currently in the Netherlands.

Three years ago, when Tati became the first Ukrainian to join Eclectic Image, thanks to social media outreach, I thought we were going to help our new members improve their English and speaking competence. I didn’t realize we were going to help them survive. They didn’t realize how much they would need the skills and networks they developed in Toastmasters.

In the early days of the war, we stayed in touch using social media and email. I woke up fifteen minutes early every day so that I’d have time to check Facebook before going to work, just to see if anyone had posted or send a message during the night. One day I was chatting with Tati on Messenger when she posted a screenshot and asked: “Do you know this TV show?”  It was CNN, asking if she would be willing to do an interview about a video she’d posted to social media showing a bombed elementary school near her home. I encouraged Tati to say yes, then helped her prepare for it. I reminded her that she’d responded to TableTopics questions dozens of times at Toastmasters meetings. A television interview would be like TableTopics, but with an audience of millions of people.

Yarina did a much longer interview with Brian Crombie, a Canadian radio show host whose tens of thousands of listeners heard the exemplary Toastmaster I’ve watched Yarina become: articulate, accurate, thoughtful, balanced, and intelligent. I posted links to both of these interviews on District 35 Facebook page. I watched and listened to each of those interviews dozens of times, proud to know the amazing Ukrainians being interviewed and wishing I could do something to help.

Tati introduced me to Greg Holt, an American who has been living in Ukraine for several years, teaching English. Greg is a US military veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Greg was starting a project Tati thought would interest me: he was organizing speaking groups online where Ukrainians who already spoke English at an intermediate or advanced level could practice with a native English speaker, so that they didn’t lose their English skills. After one Zoom call with Greg (which was interrupted by air raid sirens), I knew I’d found the perfect opportunity for me. I currently lead two groups that meet once a week on Zoom, and have developed friendships with the most consistent students in my online speaking group.

Greg also created a crowdfund on the Spotfund platform, which works just like GoFundMe. Greg can access money donated online via his Spotfund quickly and he uses it to buy what’s needed and move it to where it’s needed. Greg has contacts in several military units, and they are able to regularly give him their wish lists. In September, after the lightning counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Greg and his colleagues drove a large truck loaded with food, soap, and medical supplies into the area around Izyum a few days after the Russians were pushed out. (Email me for the picture.) Within a week, enough money was donated via the Spotfund to buy three shipping containers full of ramen noodles, totaling slightly more than half a million packages, and move them from Poland to the far side of Ukraine. Greg’s goal is to get food and supplies to where they are needed most, to help people survive until larger humanitarian organizations arrive. Right now, generators and fuel are a higher priority than even food; people don’t need to eat if they’ve already frozen to death.

If you’d like to do something to help, there are several ways to make a difference. If you’d like to donate online to Greg’s Spotfund, the link is: If that link doesn’t work, go to and search for “Gregory Holt.” He posts a new story and picture occasionally; the current one is “SteppeUp4Ukraine.” Several people have given me cash or checks to route into the fund; please email me at to arrange this. Greg is very good about documenting donations with photos and video; if you donate online and would like the pictures, please email me so that I can forward them to you.

If you’d like to lead an online speaking group, you don’t need a teaching degree, an English degree, or even teaching experience. If you’re good at the roles of grammarian and TableTopics leader, you’ve got the skills you’ll need. It’s one consistent hour per week, unpaid, but it just might be the most rewarding hour of your week. Please contact me for more information if you’re interested.

I’d be happy to provide more information, answer questions, share pictures, or arrange a virtual visit to your club if my schedule allows.