By: Robin Riddell, DTM, Public Relations Manager
June 1, 2020, marked the sunset of the Toastmasters’ legacy education program. It is a date we have known about for a few years. For those of us who believed achieving Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) was within our reach, the deadline to achieve this worthwhile goal became our driving focus.
Then came the Covid-19 pandemic.
The last four months of the Toastmasters’ year was thrown totally off course by a virus that drove people around the world into isolation at home. Work-from-home became mandatory for many. Toastmasters pivoted, embracing online video platforms to replace the traditional in-person meetings. The spring contest season transitioned to online. We were forced to cancel the annual Spring Conference. With it went the DTM walk, which recognized and celebrated those who had achieved our highest distinction.
The Toastmaster year ended without any fanfare. There was very little celebration for those who had reached the pinnacle of Toastmasters’ legacy educational achievement by the June 2020 deadline: but, their stories matter.
The benefits of pursuing a Distinguished Toastmaster award go beyond the gold medallion or the DTM walk or even the letters after your name. Members attaining the Distinguished Toastmaster award cite examples of how their Toastmasters experience create a mindset of confidence and builds skills that transfer into better jobs.
The DTM celebration is something to behold. From the gold medallion presentation to the DTM walk, it is a joyful celebration of achievement.
We spoke to a few of our new DTMs. Here’s what they had to say.
- Patti Hansen, DTM, and Cathy Daumen, DTM are both members of Clearwater Community Toastmasters. Patti Hansen was in the audience at a conference when a fellow Toastmaster received their DTM award. It was that moment that Patti decided she would go for her DTM. She was teamed up with Cathy to be club coaches. When the pandemic hit, the transition to online meetings couples with the need to add more members seemed to be an insurmountable mountain. Nevertheless, they persevered and brought the club up to Distinguished status, thereby completing an important marker on their paths to DTM.
- David Gosnell, DTM, has been a member since 2013. He belongs to Palm Harbor Toastmasters and Stirling Toastmasters. David quickly earned his CC, CL, and ALB and in January 2019 decided to aggressively pursue his DTM in 18 months. He started 2020 with 13 remaining speeches. When the Corona virus hit, David learned that delivering a PowerPoint presentation online was a bit more challenging, but he made the shift and adapted his skills for the online audience.
- Daniel Kilburn, DTM, is also a member of Palm Harbor Toastmasters and Stirling Toastmasters. Daniel didn’t focus on attaining his DTM until the drop-dead date was announced for the sunset of the legacy program. He set his sight on this goal because he was more than halfway through the process and didn’t want to see all of his hard work go for naught. He completed his High-Performance Leadership Project (HPL) just as the pandemic hit and finished the TM year as an Area Director.
- Barbara De Simone, DTM, from West Pascoe Toastmasters completed her DTM requirements just before the pandemic hit. Barbara credits her Toastmasters experience for her newfound confidence. (Photo not available.)
- Peggy Anne Black, DTM, from Sharing Happiness BSNA, faced challenges mentoring a club through the pandemic. While the club started strong, they struggled with the shift to online meetings. She prevailed nevertheless. Peggy Ann says she learned to plan and organize better meetings and be a better listener in a virtual environment as a result of this experience.
- For some, their Toastmasters journey shifted their careers. Martin Spencer, DTM, from Wesley Chapel Speaks Toastmasters cites the experience as catapulting him to his goal of becoming a professional speaker. Martin advises other Toastmasters to get involved by taking on additional roles, which help build self-confidence.
- Distinguished Toastmaster Glenn Erickson’s company designs, programs, and installs industrial control systems. He joined SpeakEasy Toastmasters Club #4698 in 2016 and through dogged persistence, he earned his DTM this year. Glen’s improved speaking skills have given him the confidence to grow his company by going after bigger clients
- Kurt Carr, DTM is a member of Toast of the Bay. He joined in 2010, and once he got serious, it took him three years to complete his DTM—finishing just as Covid hit. Kurt’s biggest challenge was a career change that forced him to relocate from Tampa Bay to the Space Coast. The disruption nearly derailed his DTM plans, but with the help of fellow Toastmasters in Districts 48 and 84, he concluded his journey on April 1st.Kurt credits his Toastmasters experience not only helped him become a better professional speaker, it also made him a better leader which helped him get the job that nearly disrupted his DTM journey.
- Verlyn Forde-Drummond, DTM, was a quiet, introverted woman crunching numbers in a cubicle in the Accounting department when she joined Toastmasters. As a result of her dedication to working the Toastmasters program, Verlyn is now a National Recruitment Manager conducting interviews all over the country vetting applicants for clinical positions. She points out that her story is not rare. Toastmasters all over the world share similar stories of success, landing a dream job, a promotion at work, and successful relationships because of improved communication and leadership skills. Verlyn is a member of South Shore Toastmasters and Advanced Articulators.
District 48 salutes all of the recent DTM award recipients. Some eased into the finish line well before the pandemic. For others, the Covid-19 and social distancing created additional challenges that could have derailed their plans.
We will celebrate when it is safe to do so. Even if it means next year. In the meantime, click HERE for a complete listing of all of the new Distinguished Toastmasters in District 48. A record 43 members of District 48 earned their DTM during the 2019-2020 year. That is more than the previous two years combined!
Look at the list of DTM recipients and find someone you know. Send them a note or a shout-out on their social media platforms congratulating them on their achievement against all odds. This year, they really earned it!