Viewpoint: Facing the Future with Confidence

Viewpoint: Facing the Future with Confidence

A message from our International President

It was 85 years ago this month that the first Toastmasters club was formed. That defining act by our organization’s founder, Dr. Ralph Smedley, forged a path to the future that we all benefit from today. Here are other significant moments in our organization’s history:

  • January 1933: The first club outside California is established in Seattle, Washington.
  • October 1935: The first club outside the United States is chartered in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  • July 1946: Scotland becomes the first district organized outside the United States.
  • August 1973: Membership opens to women.
  • October 1982: Membership reaches 100,000.
  • June 2004: Toastmasters charters its 10,000th club. Membership reaches 200,000.
  • June 2009: Membership reaches 250,000. The most clubs and districts to date earn Distinguished or better status.
  • August 2009: Members approve a bylaw amendment that improves global representation and support to every member and club across the globe.

In each of these examples, our organization took a leap forward to change, adapt and meet the evolving needs of our members. These changes were not easy, yet our volunteer leaders and professional staff blazed a path to a brighter future ahead. Despite the forward momentum of our organization, we can always improve on our successes. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson said: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

The next 85 years hold great promise for Toastmasters. We will continue to enhance and improve our educational programs, club and district officer training, and recognition programs. We will use emerging technologies to better deliver our programs to even more members. There will even be a day in the not-too-distant future when we’ll celebrate having more than one million active members of Toastmasters!

As you contemplate your own achievements as a Toastmaster, acknowledge where you have been, where you are now, and what the future holds for you. Is it time for you to earn your next educational award? Serve in a leadership role outside your club? Help start a new club?

Have the confidence to face your future with excitement, engagement and energy. The best days for you and our organization are ahead, not behind. Let us work together to build our organization by building our members – with confidence, leadership and service. The future begins now!

Gary Schmidt, DTM
International President