Celebrating success injects life into an organization, making it worthwhile for members to contribute to its long-term success.  Leadership luncheon was an opportunity to recognize all the contributions made in the past year and to ring in the new with a renewed sense of purpose.

While people nibbled on vegetables and cheesecake, the meeting was called to order. Françoise Muller recognized Distinguished Clubs. Pavan Datla gave a report on the Club Growth Program. Annual Awards were then presented by David Spence to:

Toastmaster of the Year, Gergana Angelova
Club Officer of the Year, Rex Coleman
Area Director of the Year, Satish Shenoy
Division Director of the Year, Sophia Liu

The Outgoing District Team (consisting of David Spence, Françoise Muller and Pavan Datla)  were also recognized. The next item on the agenda was the most important  – the “Installation” of the incoming District officers. Michael Notaro, DTM and Past International President did the honors.

Michael Notaro spoke about his own journey through Toastmasters and how saying “Yes” anytime he was asked to help eventually took him on to the highest position in the organization – the President of Toastmasters International. Using stories of people who were inspired by Toastmasters to reach great heights of success such as Debbie Fields (founder of Mrs. Fields ) and Linda Lingle (who served two terms as the Governor of Hawaii), he urged newer members to follow in their footsteps. One of the best kept secrets he said is Toastmasters. “Don’t let it be a secret” he said, encouraging attendees to spread the word.

The next item on the agenda was the appointment of the leaders –  first the Executive team of District Director, Program Quality Director and Club Growth Director. This was followed by those holding various managerial positions and ended with the installation of Division Directors. The outgoing District Director David Spence was also officially designated to be the “Immediate Past District Director”

The  “Piece de Resistance” of the afternoon was a roast of the outgoing District Director David Spence. From stories, skits, anecdotes and presentations, we got to know the real David Spence. Many jokes were made at David’s expense about his taciturn way of speaking. Kate Pratt, a District 4 leader, gave a hilarious presentation of a trip to Las Vegas, where David felt the hotel they stayed in did not offer value. She came up with an idea of a “Value Meal” to roast David on the motto he coined and for which he is famous, “Experience the Value” Other roasters alluded to this as well, with one person even mimicking him perfectly. David, in turn, came up with clever rebuttals for the roasts. It was an afternoon of laughs, relaxation and camaraderie – a perfect way to bring a Toastmasters year to an end and celebrate the start of a new one, with new leaders, new officers and new members.

Above and Beyond” is the theme that Françoise Muller, the new District Director has come up with for the District. This is a great motto for all of us to follow – going above and beyond expectations, above and beyond our goals and aspirations. A good example is an officer  – the VP of Membership of our club, who went above and way beyond the call of duty – hosting a booth at a festival to promote Toastmasters. It was an intensely hot day and no one else was around to help – nevertheless she persisted!

As Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

by Lakshmi Jagannathan