Ellen Pieklos Farewell Interview

Ellen’s Farewell Interview

Ellen Flag Ceremony

As our Toastmasters year winds down, I asked our District Director – Ellen Pieklo, if she would be our final Member Spotlight with a recorded interview about her experiences as a member of the District Trio over the last 3 years.

Thankfully, she agreed and we recorded it live the other day.

Before I start, with the interview I wanted to mention the fact that this has been an extraordinary year for District 65. When Ellen, Lillian and I took the reigns on July 1st, 2017, our district was in Dead Last Place in the world.

Yes… We were Dead Last.

With a lot of hard work and effort by all of you, our Club officers, our DEC officers and especially Ellen and Lillian, your District 65 is now in the in First Place in Region 9 and in the Top 20% Worldwide. And we are not done yet…

This was no small accomplishment. What most members do not realize is all the work that goes on behind the scenes. This was where your district director – Ellen Pieklo shined.

She made sure that Lillian and I, and every other District Officer, were kept up to speed. She monitored events, progress and goals regularly and communicated our strengths and weaknesses in a manner that helped all of us to grow.

For that, I am Thankful… and you should be too!

Thank you Ellen!

Ellen Lillian Darren Tay Click HERE – Watch The Entire Recorded Interview

(Below is a loosely transcribed version of our interview)

What is your favorite memory from the last 3 years?

I favorite memory is visiting the Buffalo Psychiatric Hospital to their Toastmasters meetings. I’ve been there for a Grand Rounds & Demo Meeting of Toastmasters, and to give a corporate award. It was moving to hear people talk about how Toastmasters helped them tell their story.

What are you most proud of during your tenure with the Trio?

I’m most proud to have survived my tenure. I’m most proud that we have a DEC team that works well together and gets along. People have tried to step in and help each other with training, DEC Officer training, workshops, etc. I realize that we’ve come a long way in obtaining new members, increasing club training numbers, and rolling out pathways to name a few. I’d love to say it was me, my guidance or something….I think I”m proud of fostering an environment that has enabled people to succeed and/or learn safely. I like to think if someone calls up to say they’ve botched something up big time that I’ll be able to convince them it isn’t so big and work through the problem together.

What was your least favorite memory from the last 3 years?

My least favorite memory is with some of the Toastmasters I’ve encountered who in my opinion really aren’t happy with themselves. I’ve had encounters with people who condemn, criticize, complain yet find many reasons they cannot be part of the solution. For me, takes a lot of energy to be able to put the “noise” on pause and work through the problems.

What is the best piece of advice you received that helped you prepare and endure through your 3 years on the trio?

2018 Trio with Radhi

I think the best piece of advice was hearing that 3 years is going to go by fast, really fast; enjoy your time with it. At the International Conferences, District events, and club levels, I’ve tried to make the most of the time and enjoying each trio role. That helped me make it through each year but helped put things in perspective for the next. By the time I was District Director I felt I could understand our challenges and how to help the district, in those areas holding us back. The time has gone by fast. Enjoy the ride, make friends along the way, learn from the mistakes, and laugh/smile. This way, there is nothing to endure but a 3 year journey that will provide a lifetime of memories.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

You need the mistakes in life/Toastmasters to help you grow. As a leader, it’s up to us to create that safe place to fail. At the end of the day, ask yourself “what is this moment teaching me? “

D65 Trio and Radhi Goofy

We hope everyone has as much fun moving forward as Ellen, Lillian and I had this year.

Keith’s Farewell Message

Keith’s Farewell Message

by Keith Maderer, Club Growth Director

Keith 04-2018 cropped 25%

We had a lot of fun this year.

I met so many new Toastmasters from all over the District… and the World.

The one thing that I have found to be true about individuals that gravitate toward and join a Toastmasters club is that they are all working on improving themselves.

  • They are above average intelligence.
  • They know that communication is critical in life, family and work.
  • They inspire others with their inner strength.
  • They step up when others step aside.
  • They find answers when others are still asking the questions.
  • They find solutions to obstacles that get in the way.
  • They challenge themselves to do better, to grow, to laugh and to fail.
  • They build bridges that take them over or around obstructions.
  • They encourage others to step outside that comfort zone.
  • They gently nudge when a push would be too much.
  • They lead… when an example will make a difference.
  • They find greatness where others see ordinary.
  • They find commonality when others try to separate.
  • They find gratitude in the simplest of deeds.
  • They make others better… by being present.

If you are reading this… You have inspired me.

You have inspired another member.

You have inspired a friend, co-worker, family member or a guest.

You can… and do… make a difference.

That is what this year has taught me.

Being a member of our District Executive TRIO is a lot of work, more than even I anticipated. But to do it right, it takes commitment, effort and cooperation.

I want to thank all of you for your support. Our Division/Area Directors and our new Marketing Committee members filled all the holes in the wall of success.

I want to thank Julie Ricchiazzi, Roger Morehouse and Sam Mehta for all their guidance, wisdom and insight. And Lillian Knight Faison for making me smile, keeping it real and showing me how to… “go with the flow”.

I especially want to thank Ellen Pieklo, our District Director who knew the in’s and out’s and guided our team through some incredible challenges. You may not even know those obstacles existed, because she handled them without hesitation… and with a smile.

This year was a huge success. It may not end up as spectacular as we would have liked, but we made some incredible gains that will hopefully carry forward for many years to come.

Most importantly… Ellen, Lillian and I had fun.

We laughed in the face of adversity. We rallied around each other when the going got tough…. And we smiled when even a small success… became a reality. We spent countless hours listening to members, making adjustments and finding solutions.

  • I will not miss the massive amounts of email.
  • I will not miss the long hours on the phone.
  • I will not miss the long hours on Join.me video conferences.
  • I will not miss the long hours on the road….

But I will miss you… our members.

Your smiles, your laughter, your stories, your struggles and your achievements made it all worthwhile.

Thank you.

Keith Maderer, DTM

District 65 – Club Growth Director 2017-2018

Ellen’s End Of Year

Ellen Pieklo’s – Our End Of Year Accomplishments

Ellen Pieklo

Dear District 65 Toastmasters,

We’re quickly approaching the end of a fast-paced Toastmaster year. As I look back, it’s incredible to see how much work takes place in a District and we’ve accomplished a lot:

  • Created and published a monthly newsletter and updated web site to enable members to stay engaged with happenings around the District
  • Trained 100% of our District Executive Council members and conducted multiple District Council Meetings
  • Attended District Leadership Training for Trio members in British Columbia and cast votes for our International Directors and Officers
  • Conducted club officer training in both the fall and spring increasing our levels of officers trained to well over 50 %
  • We were represented at the International Conference by Jonathan Brooks from Postprandial as part of the International Speech Contest
  • Preparing for the 2018 District Leadership Training in Chicago, IL and training of District Officers on June 16, 2018
  • Awarded Joseph Babcock the District 65 International Speech Contest Winner and supporting him on his journey to the International Contest levels at the International Convention
  • Hosted the Final Fall Conference in Buffalo, NY, as directed by Toastmasters International, celebrating with a 2 day event
  • Conducted our Spring Conference in Binghamton, NY, where we voted on the District Officer Positions
  • Successfully rolled out the new Pathways Education Program, under the guidance of Sam Mehta, DTM, having the highest training rate for clubs of our region
  • Awarded the Communication and Leadership Award to Randi Quackenbush for her work with the Speakers Bureau, enabling community members to carry their voices to Washington, DC
  • Established 7 new clubs and have 11 more clubs in the charter process
  • Met our goal of being distinguished in terms of membership payments.

This list continues to expand and it would be great to give credit to any single person. That’s just not possible. These are the fruits of our District 65 members. We’ve seen many open houses and recently I attended an open house, where over 10 different Toastmasters attended to provide their support to a club that was membership-challenged.

When we work together, our Toastmasters experience grows, our relationships grow, and the results just seem to flow. In saying that, I would like to thank each and every member for enabling me the experience of serving as your District Director for 2017-2018. I hope that in the future, I can continue to serve as I’ve seen so many Past District Governors and Past District Directors continue to do, each and every day.

I wish each of you an exciting Pathways and Toastmasters journey.


Ellen Pieklo, DTM

Your District 65 Director 2017-2018


Member Spotlight – Dalar Nazarian – Paper Cuts

Member Spotlight:

Dalar Nazarian

Dalar Nazarian of Praxair Toastmasters

By Keith Maderer, Club Growth Director

During this past year, I had the opportunity to visit many Club, Area, Division contests. I saw many great speeches and was moved by several of them. One such speech was given by Dalar Nazarian of the Praxair Toastmasters at the Area 13 Contest. I asked Dalar if she would share her message with our district. I hope you find it as moving as I did. Here is Dalar’s story, in her own words.

How Words And A Voice Can Hurt… And Heal

By Dalar Nazarian – R&D Cryogenic Systems at Praxair, Inc

Speaking Out About Paper Cuts and the Healing Powers of a Toastmasters Speech

Seduced by Toastmasters’ promise to build me into a confident communicator and leader, I eagerly joined Praxair’s Toastmaster club in early 2017. To my delightful surprise, I’ve gained much more than just communication skills. Toastmasters has given me a vehicle to reflect, communicate, and execute. Because of Toastmasters, I more regularly reflect on the choices I make, the interactions I have, and the work I do. I share pieces of my life with fellow toastmasters through impassioned speeches. I find partners in unlikely places and become inspired to take action. My speech for the 2018 Spring International Speech Contest is just one example of this kind of Toastmasters journey.

This journey started on a stressful Sunday before I had to give my CC-6 speech at our lunchtime Toastmasters meeting. Out of ideas, I started to sort through the filing cabinets of my mind for any experience that had left me feeling passionate. Meanwhile, my mind was burdened with an infuriating experience I had that the day before. Since I could not shake the frustration, I decide to write about my experience as a speech. For hours I typed vigorously, at times stopping to stare at the ceiling in reflection and occasionally shedding a few tears. At the end of this process, I not only had a speech that brought me to the Area 13 International Speech Contest, but also a healing experience.

My speech titled, Paper Cuts, dealt with what it’s like to be a young girl trying to pursue your passions and take leadership in a world filled with micro-insults (paper cuts). In my six weeks of mentoring high school students to build a robot, I had watched my female mentees slowly lose confidence and passion as they dodged a series of unacceptable comments and actions by their male peers. Things like questioning the ability of the young girls and speaking over them when they tried to take a stance. These were incidents that were so small that it felt ridiculous to speak out about them. Yet these incidents happened so frequently that they became tiresome. While the young men in the group were not aware of the impact of their actions, the young girls clearly felt the burden of the dynamic between the sexes, experiencing what is commonly known as death by a thousand paper cuts. This left me recounting experiences I had when I was their age and wondering, in anger and hopelessness, if things will even change. Only through the process of writing my speech did I realize that things are changing. I realized that this change has to do with me and my counterparts. We as mentors are now aware of what these young women go through and we can help them speak up. We can help heal their paper cuts, one at a time, so that these brilliant girls can retain their passion and become future leaders.

Sharing my speech with fellow Toastmasters was inspiring. I had the chance to introduce some listeners to a new perspective on the issue and connect with other listeners over a shared frustration. After giving my speech at the Area 13 competition, I made connections with fellow toastmasters across the district who also care about and work in the realm of empowering young girls who want to pursue a science and engineering career. After the process of writing and delivering a single speech for Toastmasters I found myself empowered and excited about the potential collaborations on the horizon.

Dalar Nazarian

Member Spotlight Herman Veitch

Member Spotlight – Herman Veitch

By Angela D’Amico – Marketing Committee Member

An Interview with Herman Veitch from Quantum Flow Coaching with Angela D’Amico

Herman has spent the last 12 years as a self-employed business coach. He brings a diverse background of life experiences to the table. I chose Herman for this interview because he relocated from South Africa to Syracuse New York in January 2016. He has the dual perspective of becoming a member in a community and being a member of the community.

The forum of this interview was after a Toastmaster meeting. Herman had just finished competing and winning the Tall Tails Speech Club Contest. He will go on to compete at the area level next.

Q: Congratulations on winning the speech contest. How did you hear about Toastmasters?

A: Thank you. I have been referring clients for years to join Toastmasters. This is a great way to grow their communication and leadership skills.

Q: How long have you been a Toastmaster?

A: 1 year

Q: You never referred yourself to Toastmasters

A: Herman smiling. No I did not think there would be a benefit for me.

Q: Were you wrong in that assumption?

A: Smiling bigger now. Yes.

Q: What finally made you walk through the Toastmaster door?

A: When you relocate the quickest way to settle in is to join clubs. I was in 2 clubs. A member from each club mentioned I should join Toastmasters. They were both members of Toastmasters.

I also wanted to challenge myself by not succumbing to mediocrity and complacency

Q: Did you accomplish these goals?

A: Yes. Toastmaster’s structure teaches members to break down their speeches and skills into chewable chunks. You learn by doing—-powerful!

Q: Describe a typical Toastmaster meeting and how you feel

A Packed full of insights. You walk away feeling enriched. We have an 8am meeting. It is a great way to start the day.

Q: What do you want to share that most people do not know about you

A: I am a published author.

Q: We are unable at Toastmasters to promote literature not associated with Toastmasters International. Do you have any advice for any potential writers who are sitting on the fence?

A: Get a writing coach. It saves you time, disappointment and a lot of trouble. .

Q: What closing remarks would you like to say about being a toastmaster to potential, infrequent or dedicated members?

A: Just do it. You won’t be disappointed. Toastmasters helps you overcome a false fear of public speaking.

For more info about Toastmaster Herman Veitch visit Good Morning Syracuse Toastmaster website and leave a general message to the club.