District 3 Toastmasters:  Where Arizona's Leaders Are Made

Member Spotlight Archive

Michael Zakis, DTMIn Memoriam...

Michael "Iron Mike" Zakis, DTM

Michael “Iron Mike” Zakis  

September 10, 1947-April 12, 2014

The members of Roadrunners Club 3850 mourn the loss of our Past President and esteemed DTM, “Iron” Mike Zakis. Mike was a Toastmaster since 1990, actively involved at the club, area and division levels. Mike was a professional speaker and life coach, taking his passion for Toastmasters out to the community in the Michael Zakis, DTMTucson Metro chamber, in his business Higher Vistas, and through his particular avocation, Youth Leadership. Mike gave new meaning to DTM (don’t time me) and was completely serious in his advice to all jittery speakers—“Have fun.”  He will be missed not only by Roadrunners but by many Toastmasters and community members.  

In honor of Mike, we at Roadrunners are asking Toastmasters to send us anecdotes, thoughts, remembrances of Mike that we can gather into a "Memories of Mike" that we'll print up and send to Mike's wife Carol. The memories will also be posted on our website, and the District. Submit your personal memory or message to the webmaster at To prevent spam, this email address is an image..

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the charity of your choice.

 

 


Ellen Mari, ACBGet acquainted with...

Ellen Mari, ACB

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters in May 2011 after completing a Speechcraft program. At the time, I was a deputy probation officer working with juvenile offenders in Southern California. One of my job duties was to facilitate delinquency prevention classes for at-risk youth and their parents. I immediately realized the importance of overcoming my nervousness, and presenting the class material in a clear and concise manner. I also wanted to increase my vocabulary, and I saw Toastmasters meetings as an opportunity to do that, especially through the Word of the Day segments. As time progressed, Toastmasters became more than just a place to overcome my fear of public speaking. When I relocated to the Phoenix area from Southern California in June 2013, I decided to continue my Toastmasters journey.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

Elite Toastmasters- Extremely encouraging and supportive. 5 DTMs and counting…
Truth Speakers- Welcoming, easy-going atmosphere. Constant Laughs.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

My biggest accomplishment is achieving my ACB.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

Being apart of Toastmasters gave me the self-confidence I never knew I had. I am definitely not as tongue-tied as I used to be! I have also become a better listener, which has helped improve my personal relationships.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

I plan to achieve both my ACS and ACG, no later than June 2013. I am almost there! I have four more speeches remaining for my ACS (I am always working out of several manuals at once).

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

The three people who have influenced me the most in my Toastmasters journey are my Elite Toastmasters mentor, Martha Brock-Leftridge; my County Communicators mentor  (my California club), Cherie Aldridge; and my significant other, Dominick Clark. They have taught me so much, and I am absorbing it all, like a sponge! Their hard work inspires and motivates me to reach for the stars!


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Tam Truong, CCTam Truong, CC

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

I joined sometime in 2012 because I wanted to refine my speaking skills.  I have a slight problem with my ums when I speak in front of large crowds…Ok who am I kidding, I have a huge problem with my ums.  I wanted a speaking platform that allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them without having judgmental ears listening to me butcher the English language with my verbal fillers. 

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

I’m part of the NAAAP Toastmasters.  What’s special about this club is I’ve been a part of them since almost the beginning before we were even chartered.  We’ve grown together as novice speakers and blossomed into seasoned speakers.  We can see the comfort level from each member has grown stronger and it’s great to hear the advances from everyone’s speech on a bi monthly basis.  We have grown together and that’s what makes my club special to me. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

My biggest accomplishment while in Toastmaster is a personal accomplishment of being able to think ahead while I speak in front of a crowd.  Before toastmaster I would only be able to read from notes taken prior to a speech.  Now, with practice within toastmaster I can think ahead while speaking.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

I noticed in my social life the stories that I tell get more interest from my peers.  One way I gauge that is the reaction I use to get and the reaction I get now.  When I told a story or even I joke before TM I would get the occasional pity chuckle or blank stare from my audience.  Now when I tell a story or joke I get my audience's complete attention and a genuine laugh at the end.  Either I'm getting better at story and joke telling or my friends are getting better at pretending to laugh.  Either way it makes me feel better.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

I would like to teach more classes in the professional field that I'm in.   

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

It took a village of toastmasters to mold this village idiot into who I am today.  The feedback from my fellow toastmaster helped a lot.  Our club mentor Donald Dy gave me great advice on how to be more confident while speaking.  Our club president Hannellie Mendoza did a great job of pushing me forward and completing my CC.  I really don't think I would have finished my CC by now if it wasn't for her.  Thanks you guys!


Paul Totten, CC, ALBGet acquainted with...

Paul Totten, CC, ALB

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

In 2010, I was liberated from a stressful job and found myself with some time to kill while looking for other employment.  I’m in technical sales in the Semiconductor industry and wanted to keep my interpersonal communications skills and organizational skills fresh during my hiatus from industry.  I had no idea that my visit to the Ocotillo Breakfast Club would lead to spending years at the Club and serving as VPE, President and in my current role as Secretary.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

Ocotillo Breakfast Club meets for an hour on a Wednesday morning and the meetings are very well run.  I was immediately taken with how much business gets done at each meeting and how effectively the time is managed. For me, the “special” aspect of our Club is derived from both the diversity of our members and the superb meeting facility provided by our hosts, Gold Canyon International. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

My biggest achievement was having the opportunity to speak at a flag retirement ceremony sponsored by the local Scout group.  Somebody had heard that I was in Toastmasters and asked if I would speak at the ceremony about patriotism and what it means to me as an immigrant.  The event was attended by about a hundred people and I gave a seven minute speech (yes I did get credit for it!).  Toastmasters helped me to create and deliver a meaningful speech in a confident manner that was very well received.  Without Toastmasters this would never have happened.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

Impromptu speaking is a bit of an art in my opinion, and Toastmasters has helped me to not freak out no matter what question is asked of me.  I travel some with my job and have been able to use impromptu speaking skills that I’ve honed at Toastmasters in four continents so far in both business and personal situations. 

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

My next two goals are my ACB and my ALS.  I’m confident about getting my ACB by the end of June since I only have four more speeches to give.  The ALS I think will be a tad more challenging.  Fortunately my club has proven to be very flexible and supportive of goals that I’ve set in the past so I’m quite confident of achieving both of them. 

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

It’s really hard to pick a winner.  Part of the Toastmasters experience is engaging and learning about and from other people.  I’m always in awe of new members who respond to the teaching aspect of our organization and are able to develop their skills quickly.  We have some new members in the Club now and I find myself feeding off their enthusiasm and willingness to engage and try new things.  This is true whether I’m at a weekly meeting, Officer training, a convention or a contest.  You just never know where the next moment of influence will come from.   That said, OBCTM has a mentor program, and I was lucky enough at the start of my Toastmasters tenure to have Trisha Baggs assigned as my mentor.  Trisha was a great inspiration to me because she spoke so well, gave great evaluations and was very supportive when I took on my first officer role as VPE.  I had a great experience thanks to Trisha and as a result I feel strongly that mentoring is key to onboarding new members and keeping Clubs healthy.


Sarah YoungbloodGet acquainted with...

Sarah Youngblood

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters in 2011 to improve my speaking because I occasionally have to make presentations at my job.  I have observed other speakers that are very gifted and I thought maybe I could improve my speaking skills.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

I am a member of NAAAP-Phoenix Toastmasters.  NAAAP is short for the National Association of Asian American Professionals.  NAAAP is special because it is made up of individuals from a great variety of professions, and Toastmaster is just one of the many many activities that NAAAP sponsors throughout the year.  NAAAP Toastmaster draws its membership from the diverse and fun NAAAP community.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

I have learned to identify situations and life events that make good topics for sharing and I am developing my skill at making speeches on a variety of subjects.  As a result of this I was able to win our club international speech contest and represented NAAAP Toastmasters for the Tonto Area 1 international Speech and Evaluation Contests.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

I have learned the importance of keeping speeches short and to the point.  I have also improved my confidence level and technique at speaking in front of an audience.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

I aim to achieve my Competent Communication and Competent Leadership designations early in 2014.

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

My fellow NAAAP Toastmasters! 


Yves JohnsonGet acquainted with...

Yves Johnson

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

I wanted to hone my speaking skills.   I do a lot of public speaking and realized that I need to improve in this area.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

I’m a member of Fire Mouth and Leaders First.  I love Fire Mouth because it’s mostly active duty, retired service members and responders.  We have a certain camaraderie that’s special.  Leaders First is the only Advanced Club in Southern Arizona.  I learn so much from the collective knowledge of the group.  It’s a group of professionals who bend over backwards to help make all the local clubs better.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

I would say being selected as an Area Governor within the first year of being a Toastmaster.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

I’ve met some great people who I now associate with.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

I want to achieve ACB and ACL.

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

DTM Aleck Brown.  I was going to quit TM the second month of my membership.  He convinced me to give it a try for “just a little bit longer.” 


Randy GroomGet acquainted with...

Randy Groom

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters in December of 2011 because I had come to a place where my communication skills were preventing me from moving forward in my career.  It was only after I joined Toastmasters that I realized my communication skills were impacting other areas of my life.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

I belong to two clubs.  Dobson Ranch Toastmasters is my home club and I am continually amazed at the level of speakers in the club and how much I learn every week.  I also belong to a club that I sponsored at my work called “A Thriving Speaker” which just chartered in September of 2013.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

My biggest accomplishment in Toastmasters is sponsoring the club at my work which involved in co-chairing a PR and membership campaign.  This included getting corporate approval, coordinating a demonstration meeting put on by members of Dobson Ranch, helping craft company-wide communications, and talking with people who were interested about what Toastmasters has done for me.  The effort was so successful we chartered the day after our first meeting with 24 members.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

The list of areas where Toastmasters has helped me is extensive.  My family has made comments like, "There is something about you that is different."  At work I live in a technical world and in the past my communication in normal life situations was overly detailed.  Toastmasters has helped me improve my speaking skills in those situations to the point where I am no longer seeing eyes gloss over.  I am also extremely more comfortable and confident in work situations that in the past I was not very effective at communicating.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

I am one speech away from CC with my goal to finish that this year, my CL next year and now that I belong to two clubs I am planning to get an ACB by the end of 2014.

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

I would have to give that honor to Paul Brunoforte.  Paul is a long time member of Toastmasters and Dobson Ranch who is extremely encouraging while at the same time continually pushing me to excel.  He does this for the club by adapting the meetings in ways that will help all members improve.  He has helped me personally by highlighting areas where I have improved and where I need improvement.


Shelley GabrielGet acquainted with...

Shelley Gabriel, CC, CL

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

My reason for joining was to help my communication and leadership skills. 
My major was Communications.  I had lost some of my speaking skills after I graduated.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

I am a member of 4 clubs:  USAA Eagles it is my home club which is a closed club.
S.L.E.E.K. which is an advanced club once you complete your CC, Unity Speakers achieved all 10 DCP goals last year.  I also am going to be a charter member of SportsTalkers.  SportsTalkers is an advanced club where you can talk about sports or not.  We have a lot of fun and have a great supper.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

My biggest achievement was completing the Triple Crown and Outstanding Club Member of the Year in my first year as a Toastmaster.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

TToastmasters have helped me in my communication with my job.  I work for USAA in the bank.  In my job, we are on the phone with members.  We have to ask member questions, think quickly about questions to ask, and come up with solutions to the member’s needs.  I find myself not saying the filler words like um, so, and, ah etc.  In addition, I have heard some of my co-workers say either so, um every other word in their conversations. It makes me reflect on how far I have come in such a short time.  I also have better listening skills which helps me in my job.  It has also help become a better leader at work and in my volunteer work.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

My educational goals for the coming year:

To achieve the Triple Crown, to complete my ACB, ALB, ACS, and ACG.  To attend any and all training I can.  To attend all conferences to learn and get educated.

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

My influences have been Julie Caliendo, Bettie Covington, Nancy Goins and Don Griffith.  Julie Caliendo got my on the path to do my speeches with my CL.  Bettie Covington has taken over as my mentor.  Thanks Bettie for all of your advice, encouragement to go the spring conference to meet the leaders.  To say, you should join other clubs, to help you get finished quicker and to see other clubs culture.   Encouragement to be Vice President of Membership, and being an assistant area governor to help me become a great area governor next year.  Thanks Nancy for your guidance by allowing me to speak, attend a demo meeting and answering questions for me.  Thanks Don Griffith for your inspiring key note speeches, your advice, and book recommendation. 
All 3 of you have inspired me to get my DTM and beyond.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!


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Marlon Avila

Marlon Avila & Family

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

Eight years ago we moved to Arizona without any family in a 400 mile radius. We soon found out that connecting with people would help us plant deeper roots in Arizona.  So our adventure began. My wife began homeschooling our 3 boys and I began to work in the financial retail arena.  My “fire within” would not be quenched. Making a difference in myself, my family and the people we came in contact with was stirring within my family’s heart and soul. I decided to put this fire to the test and I joined Toastmasters. Two or 3 months later I was competing in the international competition. My trophy came in the form of an email from one of our club Toastmasters, Bob Bone. “You have a God given gift!” the email read and it stirred my heart even stronger and with more passion. Since then I found I have a bigger family than in any part of  the country and in fact in any part of the world.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

West Valley Toastmasters takes great pride in their meetings and having fun is a priority in everything they set out to do. I am blessed to have eloquent and professional speakers in my club that keep me on track of my desired goals. They are direct with their evaluations and always seek the best in their members.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

My ice breaker speech has been my greatest accomplishment with in Toastmasters. My wife and my 3 boys were there when I gave my first speech and of course they had a list of how many umms and ahhhs I had said in my speech. Since then my heart beats to a faster beat and speaking is my and my family’s adventure.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

The only 3 things I will leave my kids in this world are the memories, lessons, and the convictions I was able to pass on to them. Toastmasters allowed me to engrave all these 3 of these things into my kids' hearts, minds and souls. Seeing their daddy build a speech in the wee hours of the night and hearing their daddy practice his speech at the break of dawn is a memory they will never forget. Seeing their daddy compete and speak about the lessons he holds near and dear to his heart will for sure be treasured in their hearts. Finally living with the conviction that life is wonderful and life is worth talking about is my legacy to them.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

My goals are daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly but I don’t worry to much about the yearly ones. My true energy and focus is spent on the daily goals and I soon realized that when I do that, my yearly goals tend to take care of themselves. My goal this year is to be the best I know I can be.

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

The list is horizontal and vertical.  Toastmasters' legacy and history is something that always attracted me. Finding and associating with such a great track record and such a profound impact in the community it serves is what has influenced me to continue in Toastmasters.  It comes to people foremost, the living Word, then my wife and kids, and then “me” ( I do speak to myself). And then everybody that spoke to me has helped me in one way or another, especially in my Toastmasters family.


Ryeojin ParkGet acquainted with...

Ryeojin Park

When and why did you join Toastmasters?

The first time I heard about Toastmasters was about two years ago from my friend’s father, but I was a bit intimidated since I am not a native speaker. However, I forced myself to join in September 2012 to prepare for my first oral presentation for a conference. Initially, I considered Toastmasters as a temporary practice stage for public speaking, but now I can’t live without it.

What club(s) are you a member of and what makes it/them special?

I am a member of Cosmopolitan Toastmasters and our club is very multinational, from China to Tanzania. For non-native speakers, we have to overcome not only the fear of public speaking, but we also have to deal with language issues. Since most members are in the same shoes, we feel more comfortable to speak and give greater support to each other. Furthermore, we share our cultural backgrounds and authentic dishes.

What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Toastmasters program?

I was awarded the Outstanding Club Member of the Year 2012-2013. This award was very meaningful since I was voted by our dear members and I truly enjoy and believe in the power of Toastmasters.

How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?

Toastmasters has changed my life in a very positive way. My communication skills have improved and my presentations at work have become more effective. I became more outgoing and sociable. I also learned leadership skills and responsibility by organizing small meetings or events for our club. Most importantly, I learned the true meaning of the sincere support.

What educational goals have you set for yourself during the next Toastmasters year?

I would like to complete my Competent Communication (CC) manual.

Who has influenced you the most in your Toastmasters journey?

I have to say all members of Cosmopolitan Toastmasters. They are the most amazing people I have ever known in Tucson. Especially, I would like to thank to our president, Jim Eng, who guides us and mentors our club. He is a terrific speaker, and his leadership and organizational skills are very admirable.

 

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