District 52 History

District 52 History 

A Legacy of Excellence Since 1956

District 52 is a by-product of a three-way division of the old District One. Here is a recap of our history all the way back to when District 52 was “born” – January 24, 1956.



“Every Member Counts”

2016 Elizabeth Gilbert Photography Lance Webster

Lance Webster, DTM

District Leadership

  • District Director: Lance Webster
  • Program Quality Director: Kathleen Lubin
  • Club Growth Director: Eric Fonseca
  • Public Relations Manager: Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Finance Manager: Lawrence Quesada
  • Administrative Manager: Marianne Toghia
  • Webmaster: Michael Janovici
  • District Leadership Committee Chair: Don Cogan
  • Logistics Chair: Darryl DeBond

2015-2016 President’s Distinguished

“Make it Happen”


Janet Walters, DTM

President’s Distinguished! You Made it Happen! Because of your drive to hone in on you and your fellow members’ leadership and communication skills, you Made District 52 President’s Distinguished for the first time in 33 years! District 52 ranked #1 in the United States, #1 in the Western Hemisphere, and #10 in the world.

It all started with you.  It started by having the attitude of being a President’s Distinguished Person. In the “real world” President’s = Champion. You took ownership of being a Champion.  Then the President’s Distinguished Person became President’s Distinguished Members and President’s Distinguished Club Officers. You understood that being in a Distinguished or Better Club helps each and every member stretch, take risks, grow and thrive as a leader, communicator, and presenter. You worked together as a team in creating strong and healthy clubs.

Meanwhile, the Area and Division Directors were on board and they perpetuated the vision of becoming President’s Distinguished Area and Division Directors as they led their teams and developed new leaders.

Outstanding Job Kathleen Lubin, 2015 – 2016 Club Growth Director. Kathleen chartered 17 clubs and wrapped it up with 124 paid clubs. She broke all District 52 Club Building records. Additionally, Kathleen broke District 52’s membership payments records.  District 52 completed the year with 5,875 member payments.

We could not have done this without our fearless Club Growth Director, Kathleen Lubin and her team. Let’s recognize Kathleen’s Club Extension and Demo Team:
Marianne Toghia, Club Extension and Outreach Chair
Agnes Lewis, Club Extension Team and Demo Team Leader
Marc Richards, Club Extension and Outreach Team
Melissa Roughton, Club Mentor & Sponsor Chair, Club Growth Outreach Strategist

Lance Webster, 2015 – 2016 Program Quality Director made success happen. Because of his vast knowledge and experience, Lance took Distinguished Clubs to the next level. He broke District 52’s record where 70 Clubs achieved Distinguished or Better. He accomplished this by holding the most memorable TLIs and Conferences—all events were standing room only.

We are very proud of our 2015 – 2016 Division Directors. All of them achieved President’s Distinguished. Outstanding job. They worked very hard to achieve this honorable status:
Division A: Steve James, President’s Distinguished
Division B: Don Cogan, President’s Distinguished
Division C: Keaver Brenai, President’s Distinguished
Division D: Erik A. Fonseca, President’s Distinguished
Division E: Sandra Humphries, President’s Distinguished

Our 2015 – 2016 Area Directors worked around the clock. They were District 52’s Ambassadors. They went above and beyond in helping our members and clubs thrive. Excellent Job Area Directors:

Area A10: Amit Tripathi, President’s Distinguished
Area A11: John Graves, President’s Distinguished
Area A12: Hidi Lee, President’s Distinguished
Area A13: Frank Barragan
Area A14: Francisca Barros, Select Distinguished
Area B20: Daniel Higgins
Area B21: Joshua Bevan
Area B22: Avery Aguilar, President’s Distinguished
Area B23: Rebecca Schmitz, Select Distinguished
Area B24: Jim Michael, Select Distinguished
Area C30: Michael Janovici, Select Distinguished
Area C31: Freddermann Anthony Munoz
Area C32: Gail Roque
Area C33: Josh Joshua Dann, President’s Distinguished
Area C34: Brian Schweidenback, President’s Distinguished
Area D40: Abigail Ortega, President’s Distinguished
Area D41: Cynthia Grande, President’s Distinguished
Area D42: Happi Noel
Area D43: Nelson Better, Distinguished
Area D44: Remi Mateo
Area E50: Robert Chan, President’s Distinguished
Area E51: Donald Kurtz
Area E53: Venu Singh, Select Distinguished
Area E54: Chelsea Li, Distinguished

Kudos to our Remarkable Public Relations Team:
Glenn Thornton – Outstanding work in getting the word out on the District’s happenings. Glenn kept everyone up to date on all of the events we held. His team updated Twitter and Facebook and Constant Contact eblasts

Elizabeth Gilbert—Extraordinary job in updating the District 52 website and making it more user friendly and appealing. She was the backbone of the PR team who worked tirelessly behind the curtain. Elizabeth masterfully changed the landscape of District 52’s online presence.

Our Social Media Expert Hector Marical Kept District 52 in-the-know on Facebook and Twitter. He skillfully directed readers back to the District 52 website where you could get complete update to date information.

A special thanks to our Amazing DCP Chair, Brian Schweidenback who went above and beyond his role and helped the District and fellow Area and Division Directors create healthy, fun, and strong DISTINGUISHED clubs. Brian also helped out with several Area Directors with their club visits.

Our exceptional Contest Training Chair, Aasiyah Ghazi took contest training to another level. She created a comprehensive contest preparation manual which helped the Area and Division Directors make their contests fun and successful.

A tribute to the Late Past District Governor, Jo Lauricella who said, “Every member deserves to belong to a Distinguished or better club.”

A key leader who helped us carry our vision to the very end, 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, Lance Miller who says and still stands by the principle that, “There is no reason why every club cannot be a President’s Distinguished.

On a somber note, we lost 5 incredible people in District 52 in 2015 – 2016.  Let’s lift them up in our thoughts and prayers:
David Taylor, District 52 Photographer
Peter Bunce, World Renowned Super Toastmaster Achiever
Jo Lauricella, Past District Governor, 2013 – 2014
Dick Senseman, Respected and Admired Toastmaster
And our most recent District 52 Toastmaster, GP Cole, Adored and Revered.

Lastly, I wanted to recognize our top leaders who provided Superior Service to District 52 in 2015 – 2016. They were awarded at the  on August, 6, 2016.  Our Top Achievers were:

Elizabeth Gilbert, Toastmaster of the Year
Brian Schweidenback, Area Director of the Year
Steve James, Division Director of the Year
Neuro Orators–#1 Club of the Year, Top of the District
Gettin’ Toasty #147–#2 Club of the Year
Warner Center Toastmasters–#3 Club of the Year
Contest Training Excellence Award, Aasiyah Ghazi
Double President’s Distinguished Club Award, Bill Guthrie
Make it Happen Award, Kathleen Lubin
Thank you District 52. You Made President’s Distinguished Happen in 2015-16. For 2016-17, District 52 Director Lance Webster and his team’s care and expertise is ensuring that Every Member Counts as each and every member achieves their personal best!

Thank you for your commitment and dedication in bettering our members and yourselves. You set audacious goals and you broke records. Take this leadership experience into your business, profession and community. I enjoyed working with all of you. You all were my teachers. Thank you.

Janet Walters, DTM, IPDD
September 26, 2016

2015 Fall Conference Evaluation and Tall Tall Speech Finals and Highlights




Tamala Takahashi, DTM

District Leadership

  • District Governor: Tamala Takahashi

District Awards

  • Toastmaster of the Year – Keaver Brenai
  • Area Governor of the Year – Sandra Humphries
  • Division Director of the Year – Kathleen Lubin
  • District 52 Best Toastmaster Club – Burbank Toastmasters

Website Excellence Program Recipients for 2014-2015


  • For the Toastmaster year 2013-14 the District is SELECT DISTINGUISHED for the first time since 2001-2002. Jo Lauricella served as DG.
  • District 52 was one of two Districts in Region 10 (Western US and Mexico) to be a Select Distinguished District!
  • Fourteen (14) new clubs were chartered
  • Eight (8) clubs were lost
  • Fifty Three (53) Distinguished or better clubs
    • Distinguished Clubs – Fifteen (15)
    • Select Distinguished Clubs Seven (7)
    • Presidents Distinguished Clubs Thirty-One (31)


In the 2012-2013 year, the leadership team had the challenge of a new Distinguished Success Plan that changed the criteria for a District to be Distinguished. It was a significant change, but despite the challenge:

  • For the Toastmaster year 2012-13 the District is DISTINGUISHED for the second year in a row under the incredible leadership of Linda Cota-Kumagai, DTM, QS.
  • District 52 was the only District in Region 10 (Western US and Mexico) to be a Distinguished District!
  •  Thirteen (13) new clubs were chartered
  • District 52 ended with 47 Distinguished or better clubs, beating the all time record for District 52.


  • For the Toastmaster year 2011-12 the District is DISTINGUISHED for the first time in four years under the leadership of Carolyn Cousins-Goldman, DTM
  • The District’s Golden Gavel Speakers Bureau – was charted under the direction of Mitch Krayton, DTM.
  • To accommodate our growth, we added another Area to C, which is C-34.
  • We chartered our first Republican Toastmasters club – James Madison under the vision and guidance of Laura Corckett and Stephen Smith
  • Our first Spanish Speaking only Toastmasters club was created for the Hispanic Business Network under the vision and guidance of Jorge Rabaso.


  • For the TM year 2001- 2002 District 52 was a Select Distinguished District under the leadership of Enrico Pena, DTM. We were #11 in the WORLD! This was the year of 9/11!An amazing accomplishment given the circumstances of that year.
Enrico Pena, DTM Shown at Toastmasters International Convention receiving the Select Distinguished Award

Enrico Pena, DTM Shown at Toastmasters International Convention receiving the Select Distinguished Award

  • In 2002-2003 Robert O’Donnell was District Governor.
  • For the TM year 2003-2004 District 52 was Distinguished under the leadership of Linnaea Mallette, DTM. The district enjoyed a Presidential visit from Ted Corcoran.
Linnaea Mallette District 52 2003-2004 Top Three

Linnaea Mallette District 52 2003-2004 Top Three

  • For the TM year 2004-05, despite the challenge of Robert O’Donnell having to fill the governor’s role in mid-year, the duo of Pat Stewart and Robert O’Donnell were able to guide the district to Distinguished status once again. In June, 2005 District 52 hosted the Regional Conference in Burbank, California.
  • For the TM year 2005-2006 District 52 was Distinguished under the leadership of Peter Geissler, DTM.
Peter Geissler at Region II conference in 2005; with Linnaea Mallette

Peter Geissler at Region II conference in 2005; with Linnaea Mallette

  • In August, 2005 at the International Convention in Torono, Canada, two members of District 52 earned high levels of distinction: Lance Miller won the World Championship of Public Speaking while Terry Mayfield was acclaimed the newest Accredited speaker. Peter Geissler also was the  first District Govneror to receive the TI award for “Leadereship in Excellence” from the International President at the Convention, on behalf of District 52. (This award is given to all districts who achieve “Distinguished” District in 3 consecutive years.)
  • For the TM year 2006- 2007 District 52 was Distinguished under the leadership of Edwin Bernard, DTM. In August 2006, Beth Neaman was awarded the Top Five District Newsletter Editor Award at the International Convention.


  • For the TM year 2007-2008 District 52 was Distinguished under the leadership of Cora Aragon Soriano, DTM. This marked “Distinguished” five years in a row – a difficult feat for any District. We grew so much than an additional Division was added (Division E) to accommodate the District’s growth.
  • In 2010 District 52 was proud to have its very own Roberta Perry, DTM elected as the International Director representing Region 10 for the term 2010- 2012. We also had the Toastmaster’s International President’s visit from Third VP Johnny Lau for which the City of LA honored us with Toastmasters Day.
  • District 52 was moved from Region II into Region 10, which serves California, Arizona and Mexico.

The 1990’s

  • In 1993-94, the District was recognized for having a total of 4 Distinguished years in a row.
  • As of 1994 every district now has a Public Relations Officer, either elected or appointed, according to individual district policy.
  • In 1995, the District council voted to have Area Governors appointed by the incoming District Governor.
  • Since 1995, District 52 has won the International Top 10 Bulletin at least 3 times — and Distinguished District many times.
  • In August 1997, Toastmaster and Past District Governor Jim Green, DTM, was awarded the Toastmasters International “Presidential Citation” for his contributions to the District, Region, and Toastmasters International programs over 25 years of membership
  • In 1999, Renaissance Speakers (Club 2374) was one of the top 10 clubs in the world.

The 1980’s

  • In August, 1980, Jeff C. Young, ATM, of the Glendale One – #-8 Club won the International Speech Contest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • In August, 1980, Burnt #914 was the recipient of the Top Ten Club award at the International Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the basis of the Distinguished Club Plan (forerunner of the CMP). Burnt had 16 ATMS that year!
  • In August, 1980, Don Gamble of the Keystone #48 Club was awarded the Presidential Citation by International President, Eric K. Stuhlmueller, DTM, at the International Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • In November, 1981, District 52 was honored to have William D. Hamilton, DTM, President of Toastmasters International, visit our District. Dr. C. Harold Havlik, ATM, was Chairman of the Presidential Visitation Committee. The President spoke to the Board of Education in Los Angeles, which eventually resulted in the chartering of several Educators Toastmasters Clubs.
  • In 1982, Robert Rivera, DTM, Educational Lt. Governor, was instrumental in the formation of the first two Educators Toastmasters Clubs, having been the originator of the concept.
  • In June, 1982, District 52 again hosted the Region II Conference with Pete Kittredge, DTM, PDG, serving as the Host District Chairman and John Kozlowsky, DTM, PDG as his Assistant Chairman. The conference was again held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in North Hollywood, California.
  • In August 1982, Captain George S. Doombadze, DTM, of the Van Nuys #172 Club, was awarded the Presidential Citation by International President William D. Hamilton, DTM at the International Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Captain Doombadze won for the speaker’s bureau activities – more than 300 presentations during his year as chairman (at least 200 given by just two members.)
  • In June, 1983, District 52 became a “Select Distinguished District” under the leadership of District Governor Robert L. Rivera, DTM.
  • 1988, at the Spring Conference, District 52 voted in a board anti-discrimination policy, and voted to publish it yearly in the district bulletin. Two years later, WHQ adopted our policies for all clubs, and publishes it yearly in the Toastmaster Magazine.
  • In 1988 and 1989, two years in a row, Distinguished Singles was one of the top 10 clubs in the world.

The 1970’s

  • In 1970, C. C. “Pete” Petersen was elected International Director from Region II. Dr. C. Harold Havlik, ATM, served as his campaign manager.
  • In December 1971, Robert Ayers was honored as the first DTM in District 52.
  • In 1973, Rudy Valle, DTM, of the Encino #303 Club, won the International Speech Contest in Chicago, Illinois.
  • In 1973, Earl Johnson, DTM, designed the DTM medal with the red, white and blue ribbon. These medals have been presented to all DTMs until Toastmaster World Headquarters made DTM medals available to all the world, on a blue ribbon.
  • In 1973, District Governor Ed Casper, DTM, chartered the First Braille Toastmasters Club
  • In June, 1975, District 52 became a ‘President’s Distinguished District’ for the first time under the leadership of District Governor Ed Hogan, DTM
  • In June, 1976, District 52 was the host district for the Region II Conference at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in North Hollywood, California. Jim Wildes, DTM, Adm. Lt. Gov-elect, was the Host District Chairman.
  • In 1978, Mike Thomas of the Van Nuys #172 Club won the Region II Humorous Speech Contest in Claremont, California
  • In 1978, Ed Casper, DTM, PDG of the Van Nuys #172 Club was awarded the Presidential Citation by International President Durwood English, DTM in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the first such award in the history of District 52. Ed was recognized for bringing in more than 600 members!
  • In November, 1979, the first woman to achieve DTM in District 52, Linda Folkhard-Stengel, was presented with the DTM award. In November 1982, Alice Zessin of the North Hollywood #147 Club became the second woman presented with the DTM award.
  • During the 1979 Spring Conference, the District Council approved the election of Area Governors.

The 1960’s

  • In July 1961, the first District Officers Training session was held in Ferndale Park located within Griffith Park. Robert Feindel, Educational Lt. Gov. was the chairman and had the Toastmasters of the host Area instruct the Officers.
  • In 1962, the first Spanish-speaking Toastmasters club in the United States was chartered. The charter was presented by District Governor Richard Lucas to Victor Ruiz, the first President of Hispano-Americano #3606 at the Azteca Restaurant.
  • On October 27, 1962, Richard Lucas, representing District 52, attended the opening of World Headquarters in Santa Ana, California. Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, the Board of Directors and other Toastmasters were in attendance at this great occasion. Previously, Toastmasters International had been located in a rented building.
  • In 1963, the perpetual “Governor’s Trophy” was presented for the first time at the Spring Conference. This trophy went to the club that had accumulated the most points in the previous six months in various leadership activities. This trophy was renamed the Robert Feindel Trophy in 1983, in honor of District 52’s second District Governor, and was first presented to North Hollywood #147.
  • In June 1964, District 52 became a ‘Distinguished District” for the first time under the leadership of District Governor Ivan Deach, Jr., DTM.

The 1950’s

  • January, 1950 – District One consisted of all of the county of Los Angeles. It was headed by District Governor Paul Hornaday. He had a District Lt. Governor, three Division Lt. Governors with fifteen Areas and 978 clubs with 20 or 25 clubs soon to be organized.On January 24, 1956, the District Executive Committee (DEC) voted to divide District One in to three Districts. A committee of five was formed to consider all aspects of such a division. On February 24, 1956, the DEC heard the Special Committee report. The majority (3) recommended that District 1 remain intact. The DEC voted to hear the minority report (2), which recommended the division. The DEC voted to accept the minority report.
  • On March 2, 1956,a special District Council meeting was called. The meeting was held at the Occidental College auditorium in Los Angeles. The final vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the division of District One into three Districts.
  • On April 12, 1956, a Nominating Committee was formed and it met to nominate the three top officers of each of the new Districts. Bob Dunham (Governor), Robert Feindel (Education Lt. Gov.) and Walter Scott (Adm. Lt. Gov.) were nominated for District 52.
  • In April 1956, Richard Lucas became the first District 52 Secretary and published the first District 52 Directory.
  • On May 19, 1956, District One held its last Spring Conference at the Veteran Memorial Auditorium in Culver City. During the business meeting, the club delegates were divided according to their new District and each elected its new District Officers. Dunham, Feindel and Scott were elected for District 52. The three resultant Districts commenced operation in July, 1956.
  • In 1956 and 1957, the first two Fall and Spring Conference were held at the L.A. Breakfast Club on Los Feliz Blvd. In Glendale with over 300 people attending each of the four conferences.
page: District 52 History


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