Member of the Month

In District 30, there are many members who we feel should be recognized for their passion, dedication and commitment to both Toastmasters International and the educational program. To honor and appreciate them, we have created this page to acknowledge them.

Every month, we will highlight one dynamic member who has added value to the fabric of District 30 through participation, promotion and/ or positive spirit.


December 2017 – Krista Baum CC, ALB


Eric Feinendegen: On behalf of District 30, congratulations on being recognized as our December “Member of the Month”! How do you feel?

Krista Baum: I feel great! Thank you! I am very flattered and humbled!


E.F.: Which club do you belong to?

K.B.: I belong to Francophone Bilingual Toastmasters (Club # 1861331). We speak in both English and French and receive a lot of international perspectives.


E.F.: When and why did you join Toastmasters?

K.B.: I joined as a charter member in July 2012. It’s been great to see how the club has grown! My father is a Toastmaster and he explained to me how this organization teaches people about public speaking and leadership. When he found out there was a French-speaking Toastmasters club in Chicago, he called me right away! I have an affinity for everything French. I studied it in high school and in college and am always looking to keep up my French-speaking skills. I went to check it out and was just blown away by the level of French spoken there! We have members from all over and that is what really drew me in. Everyone really supports each other.


E.F. What goals do you have as a Toastmaster for 2018?

K.B.: I’ve been focused on the leadership track for some time now. I was Club President last year and this year I am its treasurer. My goal right now is to work towards achieving my Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB). With Pathways starting in February, I want to start focusing more on giving speeches.


E.F.: What do you do for a living and how do you use the skills you’ve developed in Toastmasters at work?

K.B. Until May 2017, I worked as senior conference producer for a company that offered B2B conference / event services. I just started a new job as an educational coordinator in healthcare for an association management company. I work with individuals in coordinating our annual course that we have in the spring.  It has been a nice transition between the two different companies. The similarity though is the communication aspect. It’s about understanding how to communicate in different ways with different individuals. I feel that Toastmasters has prepared me well for that. Being able to speak confidently with someone I don’t know, treating them with respect and demonstrating situational’s all because of Toastmasters!


E.F.: You mentioned your father is a Toastmaster. Was he your mentor or did you have a different mentor in Toastmasters?

K.B.: Actually, my Toastmaster mentor is one of my current Francophone members: Marc Maschino. He was assigned to me as a mentor when I first started and at that point,  I wasn’t sure what a mentor did. He helped me with speeches and motivated me to sign up for speaking roles. He made sure that I would “take it to the next level”. He is great and I have so much respect for him. Being a native French speaker, whenever I have a French-related question I always turn to him. He has always been able to make me feel better even after a loss at a competition.


E.F.:  What is one of the most impressive things you’ve seen within Toastmasters?

K.B.: The most impressive thing I’ve seen is how supportive and encouraging club members can be for each other and for the executive board. When I was the 2016-2017 Club President, that was the first time I had been president of anything! I wanted to do the best job possible. Our club has high standards and we our goal every year is to achieve President’s Distinguished.  We were doing well, we were inducting new members and people were achieving their awards, but in early January, the ball dropped! We had to figure out how to earn awards quickly… it was very nail-biting for the last several months but everyone was rooting for each other! The passion and energy exuded from everyone in our group helped motivate us. It was amazing to feel the energy and yes, we achieved Presidents Distinguished!


E.F.: With a bilingual approach, how do you prepare for your speeches?

K.B.: Whether it’s in English or French, I’ll start the same way, I’ll think of a topic, some key points and then the conclusion. If its English, I’ll start writing or taking notes. If it’s in French, I have my trusted French-English dictionary next to me. I haven’t done a speech in French this year so that’s another goal of mine.


E.F.: How has your Toastmasters experience changed your life?

K.B.: That’s a loaded question!  It has expanded my network and I now get to brainstorm with people who are vested in either public speaking or French. I’ve made some wonderful friends that I’ll stay in contact with for the rest of my life.  Since my fellow members love everything French, they attend different French events that I was never aware of. For example, Marc my mentor, volunteers a lot at Bastille Day celebration in Chicago, which I didn’t even know was a thing until I heard about it from him. You really get to reach out to the Francophone community and see other avenues that are out there.  Another thing with Toastmasters is that when I’ve gone out to events to hear people speak, you know that you’re not alone and that we’re all in the same boat. I don’t know if its necessarily changed my life but its made my life better and its helped me grow personally and professionally. Its boosted my confidence.  If you mess up people won’t know!


E.F. What advice would you give someone who is thinking of joining Toastmasters but not quite sure?

K.B.: If they’re interested but have some reservations, I’d highly recommend just coming out to a meeting and see if it’s right for you. Ask questions while you’re there, talk to an executive board member or two and get an understanding of what this particular Toastmasters club is all about.  Make some time for it! In the long run, you’ll find that it will makes a positive difference in your life.


E.F.: Before I say “au revoir”, what words of inspiration do you have for District 30  members?

K.B.: District 30 Toastmasters is a phenomenal organization! Not only do you grow personally, but professionally as well. Your public speaking skills will skyrocket as well as your leadership skills. Put in as much passion and energy as you feel you want to get out of it.  No matter what you’re doing, there are other Toastmasters supporting you and caring about your success.  District 30 has so much to offer!


E.F.: On behalf of District 30, merci beaucoup!


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



For a list all Archived 2017 Members of the Month, click here