The past 12 months have been interesting, insightful and full of surprises! Forest Gump taught us, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”
I would say life in Toastmasters parallels this perfectly. As a Division Governor (the last one that will ever be because the title is changing to Division Director) you know you are going to be responsible for working with (in my case) 5 appointed Area Governors and you have no idea what you are going to get. I ended up with a mixed box, two of which had nut filled centers but I won’t say which two. I personally committed to Chartering five new clubs and had no clue where that was going to take me either.
We set high expectations out of the gate and very early in the year it became evident to everyone that achieving exceptional results was a priority. In Toastmasters we always talk up the leadership component and in my experience we don’t reflect nearly enough on the leadership experience and the learning opportunities so I made this a priority as I worked with my team throughout the year. I found myself constantly asking, “What did you learn?”
Here is how our final results looked:
Division G – President’s Distinguished Division 2014/2015
Area G1 – Jocelyn Litiatco, President’s Distinguished Area 2014/2015
Jocelyn served as our Division G Contest Chair for the combined Area International Speech and Table Topics Contest in the spring of 2015. We witnessed tremendous growth in Jocelyn as she stretched to take on challenging assignments like this. Thank you for your contributions to the team, we are all very proud of you! She has decided to continue on in 2015/2016 as the Division G Contest Chair. Keep up the excellent work!
Area G2 – Linda Robinson, President’s Distinguished Area 2014/2015
Linda was an absolute delight to work with this past year! She definitely caught the Club Chartering bug! We inherited a new club start up initiative from the 2013/2014 team and Linda was a key contributor to the success of this Charter. I can honestly say that Toastmasters of Laguna Beach wouldn’t have launched if Linda and John Barry hadn’t taken the reigns and poured their commitment into this Community Club! Linda was there every week for months on end and it was her flash of genius that put the icing on the cake and successfully Chartered this club. Thank you Linda! Now she’s at it again, won’t be long and the Advance Toastmasters Club, WOW (Wine on Wednesdays) will be official in San Juan Capistrano. Linda has also committed to the role of Division G Youth Leadership Chair and Founder’s District Conference Co-Chair for the 2015/2016 year. Go get ‘em Linda!
Area G3 – Iqbal Rana, President’s Distinguished Area 2014/2015
Iqbal was steady with his contributions during his term. Despite some overwhelming personal and professional challenges he managed to stay on top of his Area Governor duties, get out to visit his initial base of clubs and get his reports submitted in a timely fashion. Thank you Iqbal for your contributions to the team effort!
Area G4 – Marie-Noelle Palermo, President’s Distinguished Area 2014/2015
Marie-Noelle will outwork most people that is just her nature. When she takes on an assignment you can count on her to deliver! I recognized her talent immediately and often joked about the fact that all I needed to do was get her engaged and then get out of her way to make sure I didn’t mess it up! She is a superstar! She set the bar super high when she took on the role of Division G Contest Chair for the combined Area Humorous Speech and Evaluation in the fall of 2014! Marie-Noelle was everywhere this year! She supported so many initiatives and her contributions were stellar! Working with her was a blast, I feel blessed that she was a part of this all-star team! I’m thrilled that she accepted the nomination for Division G Director for 2015/2016, I’m confident that she will do us all proud!
Area G5 – Susan De Laportilla, Distinguished Area 2014/2015
Susan had the toughest Area and we knew this going into the year. To make matters more challenging she experienced a number of personal difficulties and setbacks that in all honesty would have caused the majority of people to quit! Susan didn’t quit however, she made the necessary adjustments in order to accommodate the demands on her schedule and fulfill her commitments as Area Governor. Susan had a character building year and she stood and delivered! Although we weren’t able to get this Area over the hump and recognized as President’s Distinguished we added two new clubs which will totally change the landscape for the new term.
Most of all we have fun! Is it possible to be this focused and results oriented and still have a great time? Absolutely! We connected with each other, forged new friendships, learned to respect and appreciate our fellow team members for the special skills and contributions that they brought to the group. Our meetings were energetic, highly productive and socially enjoyable!
We did something absolutely unheard of, we Chartered nine new Toastmasters Clubs and helped with three additional club Charters for other Divisions! What I learned from this experience was the power of a team of people and how rewarding it can be to work with others who are excited about being part of a group that forms a new club. In each case new leaders emerged and new clubs were birthed!
Congratulations and thank you to John Barry, Division G New Club Chair! He and I worked very closely together over this past year. We faced challenges and obstacles along the way and came out at the other end with our heads held high!
Cindy Carpenter was the featured speaker at almost every one of our Launch/Demonstration Meetings! Yes, she was our secret weapon and John affectionately dubbed her “The Closer.” Her commitment to Division G and all of the new club activity that we had on the go was spectacular! We kept Cindy very busy and she deserves tremendous praise for her efforts!
Jeanne Cassidy was the Division G Contest Chair and you hardly knew that she was there. Why? She is so experienced and comfortable with this role that she makes it look seamless! She’s what I would call plug and play. All Jeanne needed to know was when and where and then I didn’t even have to worry about getting out of the way because she was gone and before I knew it, it was done! Thanks to Gwen for connecting me with Jeanne, that was an excellent call!
Lauren Kelly is well known throughout the world of Toastmasters having previously served as Founder’s District Governor and International Director. She was an excellent resource and welcomed addition to the team in the role of Education and Training Chair! Lauren lightened my load tremendously by assuming responsibility for Division G Sponsored Club Officer Training and she provided much needed statistical analysis of Division G Clubs and Areas as we entered the last quarter of our term! She directed our attention to the critical “watch outs” and with this knowledge we were able to influence several outcomes that in turn secured the positive results that we achieved!
It takes a minimum of 20 people to Charter a new club that means we introduced a minimum of 180 people in Division G to the Toastmasters program. Putting that into perspective, Areas are comprised of 4 to 6 Clubs therefore, we added two new Areas and created leadership and learning opportunities to as many as 63 new Club Officers and 2 additional Area Directors! We exposed these new members to a proven program for personal and professional development. We did something that will positively impact many people for years to come, we changed lives!
All of this New Club Chartering activity put added pressures on our team and in some cases stretched people thin. I was pleasantly surprised and in some cases positively overwhelmed with the way in which our team of volunteers leaned into the additional pressures that were introduced by the growth we experienced! The Area Governors swooped in behind John and I supported the new clubs as they established roots and laid a foundation for success. Then more volunteers emerged to take on the six month Club Mentor assignments. At times it seemed like finding another Mentor was never going to happen but people came out of nowhere to support our efforts. I’ve always known it’s true and what we experienced proved it, “If you build it, they will come!”
Thank you everyone! It’s been a slice, you’ve enriched my life and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to partner with you and get to know you on a personal level!
Marshall Northcott, Immediate Past Division G Governor, Founder’s District
President’s Distinguished Division 2014/2015