Basket Raffle; 2024 Conference Fund Raiser

Fellow Toastmasters, we hope you or your club are able to provide a basket of any size and contents to help with the fundraising for our conference. We look forward to seeing your creative and thoughtful donations.

If you, your club, or an individual in your club, is interested in contributing a basket for the D62 Spring Conference 2024 Basket Raffle, below are the instructions. 

  1. Assemble a collection of items, services, activities, gift cards, or whatever you feel best represents your club or your city. Consider creating a focused basket such as one for cats, babies, a specific hobby, or food. It can be a large basket or a small basket. There are no value minimums. 
  2. Write up a detailed description of the contents of the basket. If so desired, include if it is being offered by a club or an individual.  If there are multiple items in the basket, please make sure that all items are clearly identified including the quantity. (i.e. 1 book – Title).  
  3. You may use any type of container; it does not have to be a basket.
  4. If donating a service, please create a coupon clearly describing the service(s) offered. 
  5. Please include a title for your donation with an approximate value.
  6. Finally, take a picture of the basket or coupon and send the photo, along with the detailed description, to Karen Gabrielse no later than April 15th at 6 pm.
  7. There are two ways to have your basket delivered to the conference. First, you can deliver it yourself if you are attending the conference or, second, plan for someone to bring it for you. Please let us know if you need assistance delivering your basket by contacting Karen Gabrielse her email listed below.
  8. All baskets are due to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo by 8:30 am on April 27th, 2024

Below are some examples of two baskets we are currently promoting, including their description and value. 

Speak, Lead, and Inspire

This basket donated by Amy Moored, DTM includes numerous speaking and leadership resources: 

  • Speak with confidence with:
    •  3 resources from World Champion of Public Speaking, Lance Miller.
    • Create Your Own Keynote from World Champion Public Speaking, Darren LaCroix
  • Lead and learn about building clubs from Past International President, Pat Johnson.
  • Inspire with signed copy of “Heart of a Toastmaster” by Sheryl L. Roush
  • Approximate Value: $150

Coffee Array!

Former District 10, Area 23 Director, Karen Gabrielse, still considers West Michigan home.  She invites you to try coffee from one of the finest coffee roasters in West Michigan – Ferris Coffee and Nut.

The winner of this basket will receive:    

  • Four (4) – 12 oz bags of coffee (see coffee types below)
  • One (1) – electric blade coffee grinder
  • Ferris Coffee and Nut – all coffee was roasted to order to ensure the freshest cup of coffee! 
  • Prize donated by:  Karen Gabrielse, former District 10 Area 23 Director
  • Approximate Value:  $100.00

Watch for the ONLINE site to purchase raffle tickets and Please be sure to check them out as you may find the perfect basket that you would like to win!

Thank you for your time and effort assembling a basket for contribution to the Spring Conference Basket Raffle. 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Karen Gabrielse

Amy Moored

Lisa Howard

International Director, Region 6 Dawn Frail, DTM

Where Leadership Takes Flight!

Our Keynote Speaker for District 62 Conference, Where Leadership Takes Flight is Dawn Frail, DTM

Dawn Frail, DTM, of Toronto, Ontario, is the owner and president of Athena Executive Education, a leadership development and consulting firm, where she has worked for 17 years. Through consulting and coaching projects, she works with senior leaders and leadership teams to help them become more cohesive and less dysfunctional, resulting in an organizational culture that drives competitive advantage. She also facilitates a senior executive peer advisory group with Canadian business leaders. 

Frail earned a master’s degree in leadership from the University of Guelph. She also holds certifications in several methodologies, including Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner, Organizational Transition Management, and Balanced Scorecard. In 1983 she established and led a support organization for military women and wives on a Canadian Air Force Base, and in 2010 the Calgary Foundation recognized her with the Kathryn Huget Leadership Award. Frail is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. 

A Toastmaster since 1991, Frail is a member of her home club, Speaking From Experience Advanced Toastmasters. She has held a number of high-profile leadership positions within Toastmasters and has attained the Distinguished Toastmaster designation—the highest level of educational achievement in the organization. 

Frail reflects that Toastmasters has significantly impacted her career because it has helped her find her voice and develop the confidence to express it. She says, “Toastmasters can help people gain clarity of thought around messages they wish to convey and build the skills they need to become a confident communicator. For business professionals, the ability to listen, think, and speak more effectively can give a major boost to a career, especially for a leader.” 

As a member of the Toastmasters International Board of Directors, Frail is a “working ambassador” for the organization. She works with the Board to develop, support, and modify the policies and procedures that guide Toastmasters International in fulfilling its mission.

Spotlight on Josh Winkelstein

Young Life

I was born in Buffalo New York in 1958 and lived there until the tender age of 10 when I was ripped away from my friends and school and transported with my family to Oakland California.  There I completed grade and junior high school before open enrollment allowed me to attend Berkeley High School in, well, Berkeley.  The BHS mascot was the Yellowjacket and like we always said: “take the High out of BHS and all you have left is …well, you get the picture.

Josh with IPDD Stefan Jenssen, his motorcycle, relaxing after retiring from I.T., and showing off his very large lizard.
Work and Volunteering

Recently I retired from 25 years in I.T. and now keep myself busy with Toastmasters and the American Brotherhood Aiming Towards Education (A.B.A.T.E.), a motorcyclist’s rights organization. For Toastmasters, my volunteer work includes W Division Director as well as Area 2 and Area 20 Director. For A.B.A.T.E. I am Region 8 Treasurer and Area Coordinator. As you can see, if it is volunteer labor I am wildly successful at it. Nevertheless, I work hard to ensure the members get what they pay for.


I play the guitar, like to tinker with anything with moving parts and wonder how I ever found time to work with all these clubs and hobbies. My wife and I have 2 cats and one very large lizard.

Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge I have faced as W Division Director recently is getting volunteers from the clubs to fill spots in our COTs and speech contests.  It seems to me that most of the time it is the “Usual Suspects” who volunteer.  They tend to be experienced Toastmasters who have filled the roles before so they bring a lot of knowledge with them.  That’s a good thing but I’d still like to see new faces filling these important leadership roles.  What we need is a mix of newer and more experienced members so we can share the work together while learning new skills. Then more people will benefit and continue to share their knowledge. The more involved you get with Toastmasters, the more you get out of it.

Life Changing

Toastmasters has given me the opportunity to try out leadership roles that I neither sought nor experienced in my work career.  In the last 25 years I was primarily a “rube in a cube staring at a tube” which is the real life of a Software Developer. The job lead to a healthy dislike for meetings and I found that it was easier to do the work myself as opposed to trying to get help from others. Toastmasters taught me leadership skills and then given me the opportunity to develop those skills. I now really enjoy mentoring individual Toastmasters and working with clubs and even attending meetings!

Spotlight on Kimberly Lynn

I owe much of my success today to Toastmasters! In early 2015, after completing a Dale Carnegie course, I was eager to continue my personal growth journey. It was then that I discovered my company (Zoetis) was starting a toastmaster’s program. Without hesitation I became a chartered member to further refine my communication and presentation skills.

Toastmasters played a pivotal role in pushing me beyond my comfort zone.  I took on new challenges such as leading project teams, hosting webinars and hosting a panel discussion on Building Multi-Cultural Relationships. I even became a DISC training champion. Through my Toastmaster experience I found my passion for leadership and helping others reach their full potential.

The connections I have made and the continuous learning opportunities at Toastmasters have kept me engaged and motivated. The opportunities within Toastmasters are endless!!

One of my most significant roles has been serving as the Club Growth Director for District 62 Toastmasters this year. My focus has been on revitalizing struggling clubs, ensuring their sustained growth, and facilitating the establishment of new clubs. I have an outstanding team alongside me to help make it all happen!

Beyond Toastmasters I enjoy supporting my beloved Michigan State Spartans, relaxing by Lake Michigan to watch sunsets, training for triathlons, and traveling. Walking my dog, Max, and spending quality time with my family and friends bring me immense joy and balance in life.

By honing my skills through Toastmasters and embracing new challenges, I have been able to grow personally and professionally.  I look forward to continuing my journey of self-improvement and making a positive impact on those around me.

Call for Educational Presenters!

The District 62 Spring Conference is seeking skilled and passionate presenters to conduct 45‐minute educational sessions on Saturday, April 27th at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Qualified presenters are:

  • Current Toastmasters International members.
  • Have an appealing topic which imparts Distinct Knowledge.
  • Able to connect with poise and confidence with a Toastmasters audience.
  • Leaves Attendees with new insights which help further their communication and leadership goals inside or outside of Toastmasters.

Submit your proposal in an MS Word or PDF document file by March 15, 2024 with the following information:

  • Name, mailing address, email address, and cell/other phone numbers.
  • Your club’s name(s) and your Toastmaster leadership positions, if applicable
  • Your workshop title.
  • Your presentation format (lecture, interactive, etc.) and audio-visual needs; for the AV equipment, please specify which equipment you need to have provided.
  • The objectives of your presentation (3 to 5 objectives that your audience will take-away for future use)
  • Your speaking credentials for 45-minute workshop
  • A recent jpg photo and a professional biography

You need to Present in Person on the Day of the Event!

Please reach out to Amy Moored ( or Kyle Walker ( for more information.

Spotlight on Robin Kaczanowski

Robin Kaczanowski is a dedicated nurse practitioner with nearly 20 years of experience. Her passion for nursing began over 30 years ago and around 2018 she recognized the importance of enhancing her communication skills and sought out opportunities to develop in this area. Her Father was a Toastmaster in the late 1980’s and listening to his speeches piqued Robin’s interest in the program.  

This led her to her first meeting at Saginaw Harvey Spaulding Toastmasters where she soon became a member on July 1, 2018.  She vividly remembers her first speech, the famous ice breaker.  She had it all typed out, her whole life story, which went everywhere and sideways. She read it verbatim without looking up, shaking the whole time as she spoke.  Then she was amazed when the evaluation for her speech did not start out with “you don’t belong here”, or “where the heck did you come up with that?” 

Toastmasters provided Robin with confidence and opportunities to learn leadership skills. She has learned more about herself taking on several leadership roles over the last five years and has definitely grown in her work environment as well.

As Division E Director, Robin is grateful for all the learning opportunities which include motivating and engaging members and learning to balance her responsibilities in Toastmasters along with her responsibilities at work and family life.  

An important initiative she is working on is a succession plan to make sure that there is a smooth transition for leadership in toastmasters for next year. One of her favorite memories this year is helping with a Youth Leadership Program with the Dow Treasure Academy.

Spotlight on John Cameron, PQD

John Cameron Milestones: International Leadership in Korea and Japan, Local Leadership with Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer, Outlander Style Wedding in 2023.

“Toastmasters enthusiast John Cameron takes the spotlight this month, showcasing the transformative power of our community. Joining Toastmasters in 2019, John’s journey actually began during his time in grad school at Yonsei University, where he found the platform after being introduced by his friend in Shinchon in 2013.

John’s career is marked by impactful contributions, from receiving accolades for concise policy analysis at the Michigan House of Representatives/Senate to handling international responsibilities at the Korean Olympic Committee during the 2012 Olympic Games. Aside from working in politics and international sports, he’s had gigs in corporate training at Yonsei University, Hanwha Chemical, and more! As the Program Quality Director of District 62 Toastmasters, John led cross-functional teams, enhancing program quality for over 1,800 members. A testament to Toastmasters’ influence is the 2023 AF Group Pinnacle Award John received at his current job for his passion for training and building leaders.

Beyond professional achievements, John served as the treasurer for the Ingham County Equal Opportunity Committee, advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion in HR. He manages political strategies and PACS funds as the Secretary of the Eaton County Democratic and Michigan 7th Congressional Parties. In the past he contributed to the leadership board of the Mid-Michigan Red Cross as a state disaster responder.

In his homelife- John holds a personal highlight from Toastmasters—he toasted his new wife at their wedding reception when he got married last October 15, 2023! This joyous moment emphasizes the role Toastmasters plays not only in professional development but also in life’s significant milestones. John’s story is a testament to the multifaceted impact Toastmasters can have, shaping both careers and personal celebrations.

If you’re curious to learn more about John’s journey or connect with him, feel free to reach out. John is always happy to hear and celebrate your life and story over a coffee!”

John gave this reply to a question about challenges in his Program Quality Director Position in the Trio at District 62 Toastmasters:

“The most significant challenge in the PQD role lies in fostering a culture of embracing change – especially while prepping for that new LMS! It can be initially challenging to encourage individuals to step out of their comfort zones, but witnessing the transformative impact when they do is incredibly rewarding. Guiding members toward realizing the benefits of change ultimately enhances the overall Toastmasters experience within the district.”

He also answered a question about juggling a full time job, PQD role and experiencing newlywed status: 

“Juggling a full-time job, serving as the Toastmasters Program Quality Director, and navigating newlywed bliss is a whirlwind, but it’s a joyful one. Balancing my passion for my wife, Toastmasters, and politics with a bit less sleep makes each day uniquely fulfilling. Despite the challenges, I wouldn’t trade this dynamic and rewarding experience for anything in the world.”

Are You Hosting an Open House? 

Open Houses give potential members an opportunity to learn more about your club in a fun and relaxed setting. With the right planning and tools, open houses can be a great marketing strategy.  Open houses highlight the benefits of Toastmasters for potential new members and they also allow current members to grow in new skill sets.  Read more about Open Houses Open Doors to New Members 

Do you have an Open House planned? Be sure to add your event to the D62 Calendar. Once that is complete send the details to to advertise in the newsletter and the D62 Facebook Page.  

Unleash the Champion Within: The Toastmaster’s speech contest 

Speech contests are annual events that push individuals to their limits and challenge them to excel. These friendly speaking competitions are designed to help individuals improve their public speaking and leadership skills in a supportive environment. By participating in the Pathways program, speaking frequently, and learning from skilled evaluators, Toastmasters members equip themselves with the skills and competence needed to tackle challenges. The Pathways program also offers instruction on the essential leadership abilities required to effectively manage a successful competition.

Contest Levels

Each year, thousands of toastmasters compete in the International Speech Contest. There is also involvement in the Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, and Table Topics competitions as set by your district. The competition begins with Club Contests from January to early February. Those winners continue competing through to the Area Contests, which are held February to early March. The the winning contestants proceed to Division Contests which take place at the end of March. Then the winning contestants compete at the District level Contests in April. The Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, and Table Topic contest as chosen by your district will stop at the District level. The winners of the District level International Speech Contest proceed to the Regional level, where the recordings of the contestants are sent for review by International Judges.

Are You Ready to Participate?

By participating in these contests, Toastmasters members have the opportunity to unleash their potential, gain valuable experience, and showcase their speaking leadership skills on a larger platform. These contests offer a supportive and challenging environment for individuals to grow and excel in their public speaking journey.

Take the plunge and participate in your Club Speech Contest. You can be a contestant or help out as an official. Every contest needs several Toastmasters to help with officiating as judges, vote counters, tech support, Sergeant at Arms, and Contest Master.

What the World Needs Now! Talking Up Toastmasters In Your Community.  

Communities are the building blocks of society. However, despite the widespread belief in the idea of community, there are signs that society often falls short of realizing the ideal of true community. By effectively communicating the value of Toastmasters, we have a better chance of changing this narrative.

Promote by Encouraging

Toastmasters not only fosters personal growth and career development but also provides a safe space where individuals from diverse backgrounds come together with the shared goal of supporting each other. Encouraging participation in your club is a wonderful endeavor, but it’s important to acknowledge that your club may not be the best fit for everyone due to factors such as time, demographics, and club culture. therefore, it’s crucial to promote the benefits of Toastmasters in other ways.

Share The Excitement

When sharing the exciting activities and events of your club, consider using phrases such as “I had a fantastic time at my club meeting today. You should consider exploring a club membership too!” Don’t forget to include the link

Another approach could be, “Toastmasters is a fantastic place to connect with others while learning and growing. Let me help you find a club too.” Using these words can significantly contribute to the growth of your community. By doing so we are not only helping each other but also demonstrating to the world collaboration, encouragement, and working together are essential elements for an ideal community.

Check out the Talking Up Toastmasters article for more great tips.