District 30 Toastmasters Diversification Plan


I came to District 30 Toastmasters here in the Chicagoland area back in the summer of 2013.   It’s coming on three years now, and in that time, I had in the back of my mind a plan to increase the diversity of Toastmasters within the District, but did not felt I could act on it until I became a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).    This is because it is a sweeping vision, and I didn’t feel that people would take me seriously enough to consider it until I had some solid Toastmaster credentials after my name.

Last Saturday night, I was sitting at the ceremonial dinner held before the DTM induction ceremony  when I sat next to someone who reminded me inadvertently of my plan.   It was as if the universe was saying, “you know how you told yourself you would put this off until you became a DTM?   Well, you’re just about to become a DTM, so here’s a little reminder!”

That person was Tadeo Speiser, an Hispanic-American whose family came here from Ecuador.   We talked about my interest in learning Spanish and other foreign languages, and how Toastmasters could become a vehicle for increasing at the same time the multilingual and multicultural character of the District.   He invited me to the Hispano-Americano Toastmasters Club this Saturday, May 7th, to talk to the club about this topic.

Toastmasters Diversification Plan

  1. Increase the number of Hispanic-Americans who participate in Toastmasters Clubs throughout District 30.
  2. Support the multilingual clubs like the Hispano-Americano Toastmasters Club, the Francophone Toastmasters Club, and the Polyglot Toastmasters Club (for German).
  3. Explore the creation of additional multilingual clubs involving the immigrant communities from Poland, China, or other large immigrant populations in the Chicagoland area.
  4. Make English as a Second Language (ESL) resources available to clubs throughout the District 30 Chicagoland area to help those members who are trying to improve their English ability.
  5. Explore the creation of an ESL Toastmasters Club.

To use the language of project management, this is a portfolio-level plan.   I had approached a project manager I respect regarding this as a potential High Performance Leadership (HPL) Project, and he correctly pointed out that this is way to big for such a project.  An HPL project can take months, but this plan would take at least two years to implement.

However, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and the first step is to write down the plan and put it out to the public, because this will spur me on to take action on not have it just remain a dream.

My next step will be to present this at the Hispano-Americano Toastmasters Club this Saturday.   As a Division Director, I will interacting with District-level leadership who will have good recommendations on how to go about implementing this plan.

For example, Charles Brooks, an African-American who was a District Governor about a decade or so ago, had the idea of diversifying District 30 so that it better served the African-American community.   Now the clubs that he has seeded throughout the South Side of Chicago, such as the Wrightwood-Ashburn Overachievers (WAO) club, have become powerhouses in their own right not just in the South Division, but in the District at large.   I am sure to take a lot of cues from him on how he accomplished this.

Of course, I have to develop connections to the Hispanic-American community in Chicagoland, and that is why I welcomed my interaction with Tadeo Speiser.   I look forward to seeing him again and the rest of the members of the Hispano-Americano Toastmasters Club this Saturday!

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