Leader of the Month

District 30 is fortunate to work with a dedicated group of leaders who genuinely want to make a positive difference in the lives of their members. Although great leaders value results, it is also important to value those Area Directors and Division Directors that make those results possible.

Every month, we will highlight one amazing District leader who adds value to the fabric of District 30 through their leadership and service.


December 2017 – Barbara Beckley DTM

Eric Feinendegen: Congratulations on being selected as our December Leader of the Month. How do you feel?

Barbara Beckley: Surprised! I’ve been doing this for a while and when I learned I was chosen…well, I thought that was so sweet!


E.F.  When did you join Toastmasters and what clubs do you belong to?

B.B. I joined Toastmasters 8 years ago. It was in August 2011. I remember because it was 6 months before my mother passed. She was the exact opposite of me: loud, bossy and would tell people where to go and how to do something. She was a safe haven for me and when she passed, that safe haven was gone. I knew then that I needed to step it up as far as speaking because she was my voice. Today, I belong to four clubs: Niles Township, Night Owls Toastmasters. Midwest Professional Speakers and a club in a neighboring District


E.F. Was it a long process for you to be convinced to join?

B.B. After my mother passed, I really shut down. I was a very shy individual who went to work, stayed in my cubicle and went back home. It was the same ritual every day. My manager loved me though. She said “You do awesome work but we don’t know who you are. You don’t speak to anybody and you don’t communicate with anyone around here. If you want to grow, you’ll need to work on that.” She took me to my first Toastmasters meeting right there in our building. I was thinking that I’d just go in, take a course and be done. Instead, I saw people giving speeches and thought “I can’t do this!” I was literally pushed at every step of the way. Another Toastmasters and fellow employee, Ann Pechloff, became my mentor.She said “I’m here to support you today and everyday.” That’s when I decided to take a chance on Toastmasters and joined.


E.F. You have a desire to lead.  What’s your motivation and what makes you want to lead others?

B.B. I always look back at where I was even before I started Toastmasters and remember how I was pushed. Toastmasters gave me my voice. I took an oath at that time that when I got to a certain point, I would help others. Everyone is special but oftentimes, they don’t know it. Sometimes they need to be reminded that they have a gift and they can grow.


E.F. If you had had to describe your leadership style, what would it be why and why does that style work for Barbara Beckley?

B.B. I never say that I’m “over” someone or that the Area Directors that I’m working with now report to me. Instead, I tell them that we are a team and we act as one. I’m here to ask “What can I do for you?  What kind of goals do you have? How can I help you along the way so and what tools do you need to get to that next level?”  I’m always reminding my team that I’m there for them. Text, smoke signals, e-mails…whatever it takes. I’m there for them.


E.F. What do you feel is the most difficult parts of leadership?

B.B. Leading by example consistently and authentically. A true leader has to keep that going.  You might have some down days, but you have to tell yourself that there is someone at that meeting who needs your help. It’s a self-talk that you have to do as a leader. People are looking to you for your help and a leader is always there to lend a hand.


E.F. What do you do to help motivate clubs or members to pursue their goals and achieve what they want to out of Toastmasters?

B.B. One thing I did was create a session the “Why” session. On a quarterly basis, instead of doing speeches, I do a 15-minute session on your “why”. When members stop performing their leadership roles or stop attending meetings, I ask them to remember the first time they walked into a Toastmasters club as a guest. “Why did you decide you wanted to join and pay $45?” I want to bring them back to that day”. I get answers like “I want to speak with more confidence” and “I came because my manager wanted me to”. Whatever the case may be, I say “Ok now that we have all the “whys”, so what’s stopping you from getting to the next level? Why haven’t’ you been coming to meetings?  Why haven’t you signed up for speeches?  Why haven’t you taken on a leadership role? That’s the “why” session. It seems to bring people back to why they joined. It jump-starts everyone!


E.F. Is there a particular story you can share about mentoring someone?

B.B. This one story always tugs at my heart. About 2 years ago, there was an Indian lady in her early 50’s. She was very sweet and was the typical mother figure that everyone loved. She had a very welcoming presence but she needed help speaking. When I met her, she said that she was not comfortable at all talking in front of people. I said we are going to work on that. For her Ice Breaker, I got together with her and we practiced. Every time she practiced a speech, I would record her and we would review the video. She started to notice where she needed work on her speaking. We set up a schedule and did it all the way up to her 9th speech! On the 9th speech, she was scheduled to do it but got really really sick. She had to do a speech for her husband who was retiring from his job. Two weeks later, she passed away and didn’t get to do her 10th speech. However, she left a note with the president of the club saying that if she didn’t get a chance to finish her CC manual if her mentor could do my speech for her! I don’t know if I could do this! But again I did the self-talk. She asked me to do this. I was her mentor and I did her 10th speech for her.  She didn’t write it but she said she knew that whatever I said, it would be awesome because she knew me. I did the 10-minute inspirational speech and got a standing ovation! I presented all aspects of her and her journey…then I cried. That will always be my most memorable experience as a mentor.


E.F.  Why is Toastmasters a place where leaders are made?

B.B. Because it’s a safe environment for all your mistakes and blunders. You can sharpen your skills and shine at work or wherever your skills are needed. They let you experiment on so many different levels that you can’t go anywhere else to do. Within Toastmasters, we are constantly working together to achieve our respective goals.


E.F.  Wonderful interview, Barbara, thank you for sharing with us.  I speak for everyone in District 30 when I say that you’ve been a wonderful influence on all of us. Congratulations again for being our December Leader of the Month!



Eric Feinendegen ACG, CL is District 30’s NEW Interviewer for our Leader and Member of the Month Series for 2017-2018. He joined Toastmasters in 2004, is a member of 3 clubs, and has served in various Club officer roles. You can reach Eric at eric@inspiretoempower.net




For a list all Archived 2017-2018 Leaders of the Month, click here