Profiles and Video Interviews for District Leader (Trio) Candidates

To help voting members prepare for the upcoming district leadership elections, we present the following candidate profiles and video interviews. For the video interviews, each candidate was given 10 questions and 10 minutes within which to answer them.

District Director Candidates

Program Quality Director Candidates

Club Growth Director Candidates

Candidate Profiles and Interviews

Barbara Strasdas – District Director – Candidate

Our current challenges give us the opportunity to grow as a District and as members of this visionary organization founded 95 years ago.

The position of District Director calls for a Chief Operations Officer, an  experienced financial manager, and a strong communicator.

Barbara brings a long list of valuable business and Toastmasters experience to this crucial role.

37 years State Licensed Certified Public Accountant

33 years Industry Career as Controller/Administrator in the private sector

20 years Active Toastmasters service

Current District 47 Finance Manager


Analyzer of organization strengths and shortcomings

Developer of Policy and Procedures

Strategic Planner for achievement of organization goals

Positive Leadership of Teams 

Offices Served:

FICPA Women’s Leadership Chair (2)

Palm Beach County FICPA Chapter Chair & Treasurer

District Finance Manager

President’s Distinguished Division Director

District FL Club Coach Chair

District Audit Chairperson

District Contest Advisor

Area Governor (2)

Club Officer (24)

Ivan Thompson – District Director – Nominated Candidate

“Every test successfully met is rewarded by some growth in intuitive knowledge, strengthening of character, or initiation into a higher consciousness.” – Paul Brunton

In April 1998 when I joined this organization as a member of The Healing Communicators Club 7178, I never dreamt that my life would drastically change for the better.  These changes have assisted in moulding me to become the leader I am today.  Just one month later, I was elected to serve as Sargent-at-Arms for the club; this was the genesis of my leadership experience.  This decision, coupled with the unwavering support of Club and District members alike has caused me to serve at basically every Club and District level.

Today we find ourselves experiencing a global pandemic, one that has caused us to change our modus operandi personally, in business, and in Toastmasters.  In the midst of this pandemic, on Saturday 2nd May 2020 during our Annual District Executive Meeting, you will be charged with selecting the next leadership team that will chart the way forward for District 47.  It is in times such as these that experienced and steady leadership is a necessity.

As your nominated candidate for District Director and with the assistance of my team, our mandate for 2020-2021 is “Blaze Your Trail” our centralized focus will be on members as we:

  • Facilitate a smooth transition into the Pathways Program, working with each one of you to help you pinpoint and visualize your short-term and long-term goals as Toastmasters. We will gauge your progress and guide you to effectively achieve your goals.
  • Implement a process which formalizes the mentoring program that is followed today. During my term, there will be an increased focus on the mentoring process with constant review of progress with both mentors and mentees.
  • Building and establishing sustainable clubs will also be a core focus as we augment our District and catapult to a President’s Distinguished District.
  • Lastly, we will continue promoting unity and harmony as a District Family, as we learn and grow together.

Andrew I. Bern – Program Quality Director – Nominated Candidate

Club Growth Director 2019-2020

I would sum it up with C.E.R. Compassionate Leadership, Experienced, Leadership, and Results focused Leadership.

All the members of the District are enduring a trauma of the unknown or uncertain future.  Many have this trauma compounded by financial, health, job, family insecurity, or loss.

Through past performance and training by Toastmasters International at the annual and mid-year trainings, I present myself to the District following the prescribed journey for successful leadership.  I am a member of three (3) physical and a charter member of a virtual club.  I have served as a club officer, a mentor, a club coach (x2), an Area and Division Director before being elected as your Club Growth Director 2019-2020.  I have been nominated by the District Leadership Committee.  On my journey, I also served the District as the Parliamentarian, and DTM manager. I have been a Pathways Ambassador of 8 clubs.  This year, as your Club Growth Director, I participated in the establishment of new clubs.  As of yesterday, 16 clubs have been established and two additional clubs are in process of chartering.  Training in the form of the annual, mid-year training by Toastmasters International, participation in TLI training, development, booking of space (contracting).  I have participated in the DEC trainings and provided reports to all DEC members.

I have participated in the marketing and incentive program for Club Growth.  Program Quality Director is my next step in my leadership journey.  With the knowledge of the past, the commitment to the future, and the compassion to know that many of our clubs and members are hurting from this pandemic and we have the ability to help them.

I am ready and willing to serve ….

Brandon Kinsey – Program Quality Director – Nominated Candidate

Every year in South Florida, there is a Boy Scout event known as the Barefoot Mailman Hike. 37 miles on foot, over 2 days, from Pompano Pier to South Beach, carrying everything you’ll need for the weekend. My name is Brandon Kinsey, and I’ve completed this ordeal 13 times. The first year, I dragged myself across the finish line. The second year I made it across the finish line still standing, if only barely. And by the third year, it was only a brutal hike, instead of a treacherous ordeal. As my experience grew, completing the journey was no longer enough. Focusing only on my destination, was no longer enough. On the fourth year, I tried something new.

As that morning began, the sun just beginning to peek over the horizon, I turned to my fellow Boy Scouts and asked one simple question “How Can I Help?” No, I couldn’t carry their burden for them, and I couldn’t make the journey shorter. But I could offer advice, and experience. I could offer encouragement, and even hope.

This road is long and difficult. Even as far away as it might seem, there is a finish line. And we can make it there together. No! We will make it there together. As this year’s journey approaches its conclusion, and as next year’s journey begins to peek over the horizon, I ask you one simple question. How Can I Help?

I challenge you to share your story. A time when you’ve helped someone, or even a time when someone helped you. Give a speech at your club or share it on Facebook. And as you listen to someone else’s story about how they helped, remember to ask how you can help, and vote for Brandon Kinsey for your next Program Quality Director.

Shakira Taylor – Program Quality Director – Candidate 

As your Program Quality Director my vision is to optimize our district EDUCATIONAL programs to support quality programming, ELEVATE the membership TLI’s, contests and Pathways experience and ENERGIZE all clubs within our district to deepen their COMMITMENT to community, fun, and connection, where everyone wins and succession planning is paramount.

21 years – Business Administration & Management

9 years – Personal & Professional Development Trainer

9 years – Mentorship Trainer

8 years – Educator

10 years of active Toastmaster service

Current District 47 Administration Manager

Toastmasters Involvement

  • o District 47 President Distinguished Division Director
  • o District 47 Distinguished Area Governor
  • o District 47 Conference Registration Chair Fall
  • o District 47 TLI Manager – South Florida
  • o TLI Chair (Multiple Times)
  • o TLI and District Conference Workshop Presenter (Multiple Times)
  • o Club Officer Roles (President, Vice President Education, Vice President Membership & Secretary)
  • o Chief Judge (Area & Division Speech Contests)
  • o New Club Sponsor
  • o Mentor (Club Members, Area Directors, Division Directors, Distinguished Toastmasters)

Austen Canonica – Club Growth Director – Nominated Candidate 

As Club Growth Director for District 47, I, Austen Canonica, vow to dedicate my Toastmasters year to providing excellent marketing strategy for sustained membership and club growth for all members and clubs. My approach will be three-pronged. 

First, I will work with past, present, and future district leaders to form coalitions centered in marketing strategy and membership and club growth, respectively. Our team will analyze the entire district, while each division will have support representatives on the ground that can report on clubs and disseminate information back to the District. This continual two-way flow of information will mitigate ambiguity and conflict, which has plagued many organizations. 

Second, I will maintain networking relationships between Toastmasters with integrity to maximize our collective outcomes. For those that already know me, they know I am a hard worker that gets along with everyone. I will bring members, clubs, areas, and divisions together as much as possible to support one another. 

Third, I am prepared to tackle the obvious obstacles that impede our pathways to normal operations. With an open mind and years of technological experience, I am confident that we may continue serving our members and clubs effectively, enhancing our future outcomes even more than we thought possible before.

It is incumbent upon the Club a Growth Director to ensure all clubs are given the respect they deserve for a fair chance at succeeding. Our strongest clubs will support our struggling and new clubs. No club will be void of district support under my leadership in this role. For the clubs that need additional support, we will do everything we can to ensure no club is lost without every possible avenue taken to save it. We will also grow new clubs that are vibrant and sustainable. Vote for me for CGD!

Andre Kelly – Club Growth Director – Nominated Candidate 

My vision for District 47 as Club Growth Director is one that inspires us to S.E.E

  • Support “Existing Clubs” through incentives and recognition that inspires positive growth performance.
  • Equip “Struggling Clubs” with mentorship, coaching and resources that rebuilds and stimulates improvements.
  • Engage “Corporate and Community Partners” to build a stronger and healthy District with a diversity of Clubs.

I believe as you seize the opportunity and elect me to serve as your Club Growth Director, together we can accomplish extraordinary things.

Yours In Service Andre Kelly, DTM

See also: Profiles and Video Interviews for Division Director Candidates