An interview with Karen

Why Karen for ID, and why now?

Toastmasters is at a key point in its history, with the impact from the Pathways implementation, a new strategic plan being developed and the strengthening influence of non-North American members.

I want to be one of the people to keep the organization moving forward toward excellence and inclusion.

My experience in various leadership positions both within the organization and outside of it have given me the skills, the insight and the passion to help guide Toastmasters smoothly and effectively to a strong and vibrant future.

How do you see TM changing over the next five years?

Toastmasters in five years will have consolidated the membership behind Pathways, and few people will remember our current issues with it.

Far more clubs, per capita, will be distinguished or better due to the increased focus on quality.

A good start will be made on increasing interest in leadership positions through changes in how Districts are recognized.

With the increase in globalization, many of the issues we currently have with product delivery and support will have been solved, or have solutions in sight.

The basic club program will still have the same wonderful format that it has now and has had for over 90 years.

Why do you feel you could adequately represent members from different parts of the world?

I have close friends from many, diverse parts of the world, from Sri Lanka to Ireland to Beijing, not to mention the different cultures that I am exposed to on a regular basis by belonging to a nation (Canada) that opens its arms to diversity in its citizens.

Enthralled by ways of life unlike my own, I embrace all the experiences that I can from different peoples and places. This focus on seeing the world from as many contrasting viewpoints as possible has made it easy for me to understand the issues and challenges of clubs and members from around the globe.

What is your leadership style and how will that help the Board?

While I score highly in most leadership styles, my standard approach to leadership is a very collaborative one. This is essential to working well with a large group of diverse leaders; people who have differing viewpoints and experiences to bring to each challenge that we may face.

While I will always stand firm on my values, I am used to hearing all sides of an issue before making a firm decision. This style will add to the quality of the Board’s decisions by hearing everyone’s insights and choosing the best solution, not just first one to be suggested.

What three things will you do to help the Districts in your Region and elsewhere succeed?

I will listen. To the members’ concerns and suggestions; to the District executives’ challenges and successes; to the Board members’ ideas for policy and strategic direction.

I will work. For the right solution to each challenge, not just the most convenient one; for the most effective implementation of each solution; for the most transparent communication of decisions.

I will care. For each members’ personal growth, because members’ growth equals club success and club success equals District success; for relationships, within the trios, between the trios and their members and between the trios and the Board, because strong relationships equal strong Districts; for the organization itself, because without Toastmasters many of us would never have gained our voice.

Meet Karen: family woman, cabinet maker and life-long learner

Alongside Jeff, my husband, I am currently engaged in the challenging communication and leadership project of raising our teenaged son, Eric.

I am a cabinet maker and furniture builder by trade, which gives me a first-hand knowledge of how Toastmasters can help “blue collar” workers, and a clear understanding of how to attract them to the organization.

I am an avid reader, with over 2,000 books in my personal library - and yes, I have read them all!

I am a lover of learning and of experiencing differing cultures.

Karen's Leadership Advice

Ask for help and advice

Keep the big picture in mind; remember the difference between urgent and important

Make the difficult decisions