June 2018 newsletter

In this issue…

The benefits of my Toastmasters membership

As we near the end of the Toastmaster year, I see that 20% of our members have not renewed their Toastmasters membership. This is slightly better than past renewal cycles, but does represent hundreds of people no longer receiving the benefits that our clubs offer. Everyone’s life situation is different. Some have moved out of state, some have competing work or personal priorities, some have financial constraints, and some have just lost interest or drive. In most cases, Toastmasters has ceased to be a priority for our friends.

Over my 21 years in Toastmasters, there have been times where attending and actively participating was a challenge. In retrospect, I am so glad that I persisted. I’ve reaped benefits in my personal and professional life by continuing to stay sharp and develop my communication and leadership skills. The network of friends and colleagues with a common goal is priceless. I have the confidence to address challenges I never dreamed possible.

If you’re reading this article, then I’m preaching to the choir. You are the active and engaged member. My point to encourage you to share this message with a member of your club who has drifted away. Extend yourself and ask them to consider renewing their membership and continuing on this development journey with you. Email is efficient, but easy to ignore. Give them a call, or write a short note and throw it in the mail. It’s personal and will only take a few minutes of your time. We’ll all benefit by their membership.

Keith Cumiskey, DTM
District Director


Pathways support to continue in 2018-2019

It’s hard to believe that our journey into Pathways started last October with the Pathways Guides and Ambassadors being assigned in November. Since the terms of the Guides and Ambassadors are for six months this means their time of service is coming to an end. I would like to thank the Pathways team composed of the following individuals for their diligent and dedicated service that made District 35 the #1 District in the Region 5 rollout:

Chief Ambassador

Kathy Shine

Pathways Guides

Judy Bauer                                         Tom Carlson                           Craig Carpenter

Jesse Franklin                                     Lori Geddes                            Angela Graham

Tom Gust                                            Kelly Huttelmaier                    Jeff McRaven

Tina Palmgren                                    Kris Pool                                  Kathy Shine

Kimberly Thomas                              Stephen Wittmann

Pathways Ambassadors

Wendy Benkowski                                          Theresa Flynn

Scott Kazin                                                      Sierk Oudemans

Kathy Shine                                                    Kyna Shnayderman

The Skrauss

The incoming administration realizes there is still a need for our District 35 members to remain educated on Pathways. We are taking two steps to address this item:

First, there will be Pathways training as part of the summer Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) sessions. We want to provide content that will be useful given that the Pathways Guides and Ambassadors are no longer officially there for support. In addition, new officers will be coming into the Base Camp manager roles of President, Vice President Education and Secretary and will need some information as they start their term.

In addition, we are looking into having an official support role under the Program Quality Director to continue to manage Pathways questions and offer continuing Pathways support in the 2018-2019 Toastmasters year. I am corresponding with another incoming District Director from a neighboring District to see how they are handling this task, as they realize the need to continue to support their members. Please look for additional information in the coming months regarding additional Pathways support.

With us now being in the grandfathering period of completing the traditional educational program awards, making sure our members are up to speed on Pathways is more important than ever. The leaders of District 35 are working hard to ensure that the transition to this educational program is as smooth as possible.


Ed Thelen, DTM

Program Quality Director



Pathways progress!

Congratulations to the members who have embraced Pathways and earned an educational award in Toastmasters new educational curriculum.

Level 1 Awards
Effective Coaching Richard Hawley, Robert Wall
Innovative Planning Timothy Bailey, Kathy Shine
Motivational Strategies Amy Linn-Strosin, Janet Ward
Persuasive Influence Juliet Kosarzycki
Presentation Mastery Carl Ervin, Rozaline Janci
Strategic Relationships Rick Curtis
Team Collaboration William Finnegan, Theresa Flynn, Rozaline Janci
Visionary Communication Bonniejean Alford, Theresa Flynn, Kris Pool

Level 2 Awards
Effective Coaching Robert Wall

Level 4 Awards
Innovative Planning Rozaline Janci
Leadership Development Rozaline Janci

The last hat is doffed in thanks!

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be your 2018 Spring Convention Chair for our exciting weekend of “A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats!”  Being a part of such an event had been on my District 35 “bucket list” for quite some time, and I had the true honor and pleasure of working with an amazing team throughout the journey.One of the hats I wear today is one of humility, and recognizing a mistake I made on Saturday, 05-May. In my attempt to recognize the team even more with Toastmasters swag, certificates, and thank you notes, we did not recognize them publicly at the event. I’d like to rectify that here, so that their accomplishments can be recognized by our entire District. In no order:

  • Kevin Krebs – You were one of the most amazing Master Hosts I have ever seen! I knew that you would knock the role out of the park from your work as a Metro Division Area Director, but you surprised even me. Your attention to detail, sense of humor, flexibility with the different sections, and ability to command a room is one that will be remembered as we continue to progress through our Toastmasters journey and friendship together. Thank you for always being you – and for sharing that with District 35.
  • Julie Ritzman – The amount of time and effort spent on ensuring that our guests received all the appropriate details for their registration packets did not go unnoticed. The process you implemented was one that we will use for years to come, and had delightful details throughout. It was not easy to track all the required information, yet you did it with a sense of ease that helped keep a sense of order. Thank you for corralling all the information and material into what we needed for a smooth weekend and what will lead to clean processes in events to come.
  • Jennifer Zhang – The program you created was nothing short of beautiful. Know that the hours you spent on planning color schemes, getting the group to provide feedback on the cover image, and the quick turnaround time to ensure that we had the latest-and-greatest information was much appreciated. I have a copy of the program at my workstation and smile when I look at it, as you truly created it as part of a labor of love. Thank you for giving us a tangible reminder of a very special weekend.
  • Kelly Huttelmaier – All the support you provided as part of the program production did not go unnoticed! Your technical support and guidance throughout the process was a blessing…I don’t know where we would have been without you! To the ad your amazing Area Directors purchased, I would add another option after A through E: F) Acted with grace throughout some zany times and always had a smile. Thank you for the efforts you provided on top of your role as Division Director. I can say with support from the District behind me that you are truly outstanding!
  • Tim Bojko – Talk about taking ownership and running with your area! Your work as Public Relations Chair ensured that we hit the 300+ attendee mark! Your optimism, professionalism, and perspective are truly your strengths…never change. The templates you created and frequency with which items were sent are legacies that can be passed to the next committee team. Thank you for making this role your own!
  • Laurie Baker – Those amazing Facebook posts with bright, inviting graphics were the artwork of our own Laurie Baker, who took on the challenge with a sense of professionalism and humor…which are not always easy to balance. You are truly a role model, and a friend who provided support in what the team, and in some cases, outside of the Toastmaster portion of this journey, needed most. You will always be our Facebook Extraordinaire, but more importantly, a dear friend who ensured that a goal came to fruition. For that, I cannot thank you enough.
  • David Reed – As always, you stepped up to the challenge. Thank you for taking on the role of Marketplace co-chair in addition to the amazing work you are doing as a Division Director. Through your perspective and comments, we are creating material and guidance to drive the Marketplace portion of the Spring Convention going forward. Thank you for once again being a part of a team that allowed us to be challenged and to grow.
  • Heidi Slowinski – Thank you for taking on the role of Marketplace co-chair! It was the first time I had the pleasure of working with you, and I hope it will not be the last. Your cheerfulness throughout the process always brought a smile to my face, and your attention to detail ensured that we delivered as promised. Thank you for joining the team…please continue to be involved with District-wide events, as we can learn a lot from you!
  • Krystyna Hoffman – Thank you for establishing one of the best First Timer Receptions District 35 has ever seen! You truly made the event special, and it will be one that will be treasured forever for those you attended. Your thoughtfulness and focus on the attendees was amazing, and truly comes straight from your heart. You set a very high bar on what we can do – and just how much we care about our new members and attendees. Thank you for bringing your whole you and true self to this role – the event, and you, were nothing short of amazing.
  • Joyce Miller – I knew based on your experience as an amazing Toastmaster and Topicsmaster that you would knock the role of Friday Fun Night Chair out of the park. Your partnership with Gail and Liz was great, and the night was amazing! Thank you for always thinking about the bigger picture and doing something different in a way that makes whatever you do special.
  • Cindy Laatsch – Credentials went off without a hitch, as I knew it would be when I saw we had you sign up as the Credentials Chair. Your organization and attention to detail ensured that we had our quorum for a business meeting where each vote mattered. Thank you for continuing to be a mentor throughout my Toastmasters journey…and journey through life. I will always need guidance, and combined with your friendship, you’ve always been there when needed most.
  • Matt Wuteska – You were all over the place that weekend with your support…and you were great. We had some last-minute changes and you were consistently calm and collected. Thank you for stepping in when we needed you, as well as for always being there with our website needs!
  • Jeff Ebel – Truly a Rock star. You had us connected with everything that we needed to ensure that our presenters and contestants had a great AV experience! Thank you for the short-notice on updates, the expertise, and the mentoring throughout the weekend. Test…test…success!
  • Theresa Flynn – Where do I begin? Thank you for being outstanding in every possible sense…with everything else going on, there was no way that this would have happened without you. Plain and simple. I tip my hat to you, our Outstanding Toastmaster, a Division Director, and a friend who helped me see the light through some very dark times. Sending thanks…combined with lots of love. <3
  • Ed Thelen – We have been through a lot over the years, and a lot in the months leading up to the event. No words can describe here my thanks for the support and friendship provided throughout. I cannot wait to see what you accomplish as District Director – so stay the course, stay strong, and stay you. This will be one heck of a roller coaster ride, but you love those…and thus this will be an amazing year.

Julia Boss, DTM

2018 Convention Chair

Accomplishments still in progress!

As Toastmasters, we use objective feedback and timing to help guide us in our progress. That also happens with clubs and our District – and our checkpoint is coming up at the end of June. We call it the “end of the Toastmasters year,” and it’s a time when we tally up our successes, our challenges, then we celebrate and plan for the future.

On Toastmasters.org, you can look at our “dashboard” for the district – less than a month out, this is what it looks like:

We’ve created a few new clubs, but we’ve lost a few. Our District has 23 clubs that have reached Distinguished status– educational awards, membership strength and administrative tasks – but we want more. And we’ve lost some members. As Keith mentions above, reaching out to previous members is one way to bring our numbers up. Pathways encourages us to use new resources to reach our goals, and new officers can provide creative, new ideas to support members in their quest.   Beat the Clock and a District Open House initiative can encourage new members to join before June 30.

We know that new members are important because they represent growth, they bring in new ideas, new speeches, more energy and the chance for current members to encourage new members toward their goals; District-wide, we have 18 clubs that have increased membership – and only four of them by more than five members. Smokeys Sensations in D3 and Gift of Gab in Central Area 4 both jumped up 5 active members to be Select Distinguished. We have 24 clubs that have stayed even but only seven of them were over 20 to begin with. Over 90 clubs have suffered member loss.

Membership is a component of the Distinguished Club Program both as two possible DCP points and as a requirement – 20 members or, if you’re under 14 members, gain net five members. Only half the clubs with five or more DCP points are distinguished. Membership growth is the challenge.

Bring in a friend or coworker this month. Share the supportive network your club offers. Encourage your friends to take that first step toward reaching their personal and professional goals with Toastmasters.

Motivation varies from person to person: If you aren’t excited by having your own club be Distinguished, know that your club’s success cascades up to your Area. Our District has two Distinguished Areas right now: D3 is Select Distinguished with Stephanie Schienke, and D2 is Distinguished under Shae Schoenherr.   In turn, these successes cascade up to Divisions, and then with broad success, the District reflects a distinguished culture.

But it all starts with you, reaching your goals, helping other club members, and bringing in friends and coworkers to share Toastmasters networking and enjoyment.

Create A Holiday

This can be a great opportunity to talk about creative possibilities, persuasion or inspiration:

Using the monthly listing from the following web sites:





(Corporate and specialty clubs might also find sites that they can find material that reflects their focus.)

Have your Table Topics participant pick a number from one to 28, 30 or 31 depending on the month.

Have them create one of the following Table Topics speeches:

  • How my family has always celebrated this holiday
  • Why we need this holiday as a federally mandated day of celebration
  • The history and background of why this holiday is important and why you should enjoy this special day

It can get pretty silly – imagine a speech to Congress about how important Cheese Day is, or how generations of children enjoy celebrating Salad Month. Encouraging different styles of speaking can make this Table Topics even more challenging – and fun!


TLI season has begun!

As if to make up for their shorter agricultural season, Northern gets a jump on the whole District by offering the first Officers Training sessions!  Great training with breakouts, small groups and discussions covered Pathways, officer duties, Base Camp managers, Distinguished Club plans and social media and publicity!  All seven officers is a goal, but a minimum of four officers trained gives your club credit.













Watch the District calendar for information on training close to you!