Dana Richard, DTM
Candidate's Office: International Director
Region Number: 7
Toastmasters member since: 2013
Education: MS Strategic Intelligence--National Intelligence University; BS International Affairs--USAF Academy; Graduate Study Organizational Management and Leadership--USAF Air War College; Graduate Study Organizational Management and Leadership--USAF Air Command and Staff College; Graduate Study in Political Science--Utah State University
Employer and/or position: Retired -- US Air Force and US Federal Civilian Service
Served as District Director of District number: 29
Term of service: 2019 - 2020
In term as District Director, District achieved: Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):
- 2014-2015 Area 15 Director
- 2015-2016 Division D Director
- 2016-2017 Division B Director
- 2017-2018 Club Growth Director
- 2018-2019 Program Quality Director
- 2019-2020 District Director
- 2020-2021 Immediate Past District Director
- 2021-2022 District Realignment Chair
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):
- 2018-2019 Excellence in Program Quality
- 2019-2020 Distinguished District
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
I retired from the US Air Force and then from US Federal Civilian Service after a combined 37 years of service. Over the years, I had many opportunities to gain professional training, education and experience that provides much of the required skill set for an effective Board Member:
- Working as a contributing team member to decide how best to achieve the organization's mission and goals.
- Leading teams to develop and support effective solutions to complex challenges.
- Making decisions, and recommending solutions to senior decision-makers, to allocate limited resources, resolve conflicting policy perspectives, and develop strategic plans that all impacted parties can buy in to implementing.
- Providing program development, oversight, management and governance for technical skills, communication skills, and leadership development.
- Communicating policies and decisions throughout the entire organization, top to bottom and laterally—especially to customers, clients, and workforce members they impact.
I developed this skillset across the entire course of my professional life, but especially through senior positions I was privileged to hold:
- Assistant Chief of the Mission Assurance Office, and the Continuity of Operations Program Manager, for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (the US Defense Department's largest security agency with over 10,000 government civilian and contractor employees).
- Acting Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Policy, Plans and Programs for the Defense Security Service.
- Senior Military Advisor and Chief of Staff for the Human Capital Management Office of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
- Senior Individual Mobilization Augmentee on the staff of the Assistant Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
The job titles themselves may not mean much to people outside of those organizations, but they allowed me opportunities to hone the skills and perspectives at the high levels that I will need as a Board Member. Many of my projects and programs had very significant, wide-ranging effects as well as US National Security implications, giving me experience working on policies and projects that have a wide ranging and long-term impacts such as many of the types of decisions the Toastmasters Board must make:
- Developing manpower structures and training frameworks for 75,000 military intelligence personnel and the allocation of millions of (US) dollars in resources.
- Policy recommendations that apply to over 13,000 industrial facilities and over one million DoD contractors around the world.
- Emergency planning for the largest security agency in the Department of Defense, which directly led to its successful transition to a remote workforce when the Covid-19 pandemic began.
I have a global perspective beginning with my education, a BS in International Relations and graduate study in Political Science, military professional education, professional experience as an intelligence analyst, and expanded by travel to Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. I have served on a number of boards with a collaborative decision-making process similar to that of the Toastmasters Board, as I will cover in more detail later in this bio.
While I frequently held formal leadership positions, I just as frequently had to use informal leadership, influence, and collaboration skills to help move the organization forward without having any formal positional authority. I could very rarely just “tell” people to do things. Some of the most rewarding aspects of my professional life centered on training including program development, oversight, management and governance for technical skills, communication skills, and leadership development. I had much of this background before joining Toastmasters and it is why what we do resonates with me—most of my professional life has been dedicated to developing people and helping them realize their potential. That's what Toastmasters does! Toastmasters gave me the opportunity to not only increase my experience, but also to apply it in service to our organization and its members.
As District 29 Director when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was able to mobilize and focus our leadership team—the district trio, the PR team, our Division and Area Directors, all the way down to our club officers--to rapidly pivot to completely online operations, with a focus on continuing to serve the members through all means possible. We cancelled nothing but pivoted to conduct area, division, and district contests online, conduct a complete on-line conference over the course of four weekends, ran supplemental training sessions and open houses entirely online, and moved over 85% of clubs to meeting online. We did most of this in less than two weeks. While this is the norm now, it was brand new and innovative then. I did not do this alone and I cannot give enough credit to the rest of the trio, the PRM and our division directors for the outstanding job they did—we did not just hang on and survive, we thrived! We ended the year as one of only three US districts to achieve Distinguished or better (and only 20 worldwide) and only missed being Select Distinguished by just one new club who's charter paperwork was delayed, the first time in two years for any district within Region 7 and the first time in four years since the last time District 29 was Distinguished.
I have a strong sense of optimism and a focus on the possible that has served me well in all endeavors I have ever undertaken and each of the organizations—military, government, church, business, and Toastmasters. Most of them when they were facing significant challenges and change. My desire is to bring that to the board and to serve in any way possible to carry our great organization into a bright and successful future.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
My experience in strategic planning includes the ability to see both scope and scale of the organization as a high-level organizational perspective, and to take the long view over time for long-term, multi-year planning and programming. From the time I was a young Air Force lieutenant back in the early-1980s through my retirement from civil service in 2019 I have been in strategic planning roles. This included drafting the Military Annex of the National Intelligence Community Human Capital Strategy that defined a workforce of 75,000 with commitments world-wide, continuity of operations planning for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, long-term ministry planning for my church (a multi-year plan for membership growth and ministry administration for a 3,000 member congregation), and business development for my private sector employer. I have conducted strategic planning, implementation, and management as it applies to both public and business administration, and I have taught business intelligence in addition to strategic planning and implementation at the graduate level as a guest lecturer.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
During both my military and civil service careers I built and managed multi-million (US) dollar annual budgets as well as multi-year contracts. As an Acting Assistant Director for the Defense Security Service, I was charged with developing, managing, and overseeing a (US) 51 million budget for operations, contracting, procurement and training for an organization with operating locations across the US and a global focus. As a result of managing budgets at multiple levels of multiple organizations I am intimately familiar with the prioritization, identification of funding streams, and trade-offs that are integral to budget and finance. I am also currently on the Board of Directors and a past president of my community's homeowner's association which requires very carefully managing a limited budget to provide services to the community.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
I developed policy for the US government, much of it at very high levels. I was the Acting Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Plans, Policies and Program and a senior policy advisor for the Defense Security Service. Amongst other achievements, I increased the role of counterintelligence for the US Defense Industrial Base by getting policy language added to multiple US Department of Defense instructions. I also contributed to the working group that added "Insider Threat," as required by a US Presidential Executive Order, to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual which governs over 13,000 industrial facilities and over one million contractors with security clearances. Immediately prior to that, in one of my last military assignments, I developed and coordinated policy for the entire US military intelligence profession regarding force structure and professional development requirements impacting over 75,000 military personnel. I also wrote the regulation governing the Joint Reserve Intelligence Program which governed the mission and role of a program that manages facilities, IT systems and personnel at US installations in the US, Europe, and Asia. These were culminating points capping years of experience developing and implementing policies for a variety of military, civilian service, ministry, and community organizations ranging from small to large and concerning administration, employee relations, security, training and development, and operations.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
I am still learning, and I expect to keep learning. Serving on the board will be a significant leadership learning experience that I eagerly anticipate, but here are some lessons that I have already internalized:
- Build the team before you need it. Teams are built on personal relationships—take the time to build them.
- It is not about you; it is about the team. Take personal responsibility for the teams' failures but give them the credit for the successes.
- Build people up, believe in them, be there for them.
- Listen to your team members and seek multiple perspectives—every story has more than one side, get all of them before deciding. But if, in a crisis, the decision must be made by you, right now—make it, then own it.
- It is not a sign of weakness to admit when you are wrong or to change your mind when new facts and changes in the situation warrant it.
- You never lose anything by apologizing—even if it is not your fault.
- Be humble—genuinely humble (false humility is the worst kind of pride).
- Do not be afraid to ask for help, you will need it.
- You don't know everything, bring people onto the team who have the expertise you don't have, then enable them to use it.
- Allow people to fail, then help them learn from it.
- Change is inevitable—embrace it.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
Primarily, a fervent desire to serve as best I can, wherever I can, to contribute as much as I can, to advancing our organization and serving our members. For most of my professional life I worked collaboratively as a member of a team to identify and solve problems facing the organization, develop and navigate a strategic way forward, and integrate divergent perspectives and insights to achieve consensus decision making. Although there were many times in my professional life when I was in charge and leading a team, there were just as many when I was serving as a member of a team working with others who represented diverse viewpoints and goals. Success came from working together to find common ground and areas of agreement. I have learned to be assertive in expressing my views, but also to listen to others and accept ideas and perspectives that are different from my own and not reject them simply because they differ from mine. I learned early in my career that once a decision has been made, the time for disagreement is over and it is my responsibility to support the decision and do all that I can to ensures its success. These are core competencies for Board Members.
I bring a global, multi-cultural, and multi-generational mindset that is critical to an organization like Toastmasters whose membership is global, multi-cultural, and multi-generational. I have benefitted from extensive professional training and education that helps provide these perspectives—being a Board Member gives me a chance to pay that forward. After earning my undergraduate degree in International Affairs, I spent much of my early career as an intelligence analyst becoming familiar with economies, governments, and diverse cultures around the world. I also had the privilege of spending time in the Middle East, the Indian Sub-Continent, Europe, and Latin America, further expanding my global perspective. I believe this will help me both in serving with my fellow board members from other regions as well as appreciating the challenges and opportunities Toastmasters International faces as a global organization.
My experience working for large organizations with global missions, my collaborative team and leadership experience, and my policy background, and extensive strategic planning experience all enable me to support and substantively contribute to the board. I am experienced with organizational governance and the role played by the board. I am very experienced with training and education, and even more specifically with leadership development, mentoring, coaching, training, and educating a workforce. I do not have all of the answers, far from it, but I believe that the expertise I do have can benefit the entire organization through the contributions I can make as a Board Member.
Also, I am retired. While I am busy with a great many activities, including Toastmasters, my time is very flexible. I can dedicate the time it takes to be an effective, contributing Board Member.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
I am called to serve. That may sound trite, but service is hardwired into my DNA. That which I can do to serve, I must do. I believe that at this time, both within the life of Toastmasters as well as within my personal journey, that service as a Board Member is where I can be of the greatest service. I am sure that I have experience and perspectives that, when combined with those of the other dedicated board members and officers, will help ensure that Toastmasters grows and thrives, and enables our members to grow and thrive. None of us can do this alone, but we can do it together and I am sure that I can make positive and productive contributions to us doing it together. I believe that I will add value to the board through my global perspective, strategic planning and policy experience, budget experience, collaborative team experience, and leadership ability. If my talents can be of use, then I must make them available to be of use.
For me personally I am not done growing as a person and a leader, my journey is not over, and I still have much to learn. I continue to seek out opportunities to grow as well as to serve. The board is a tremendous opportunity to grow and to serve and one to which I am ready and willing to dedicate myself. I believe my entire life has prepared me for and led me to this moment, and also that this is the next important step in my own growth.
I have lived a life of service and for me, being an International Director is the next chapter in that life of service.
I have a heart for the organization and its mission. I want to see our organization to thrive and prosper, especially in whatever the new normal is after COVID-19. I believe that we have a very exciting future ahead of us and I very much want to be a part of shaping that future.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
I am on the Board of Regents of the Association of Certified Knowledge Management Professionals (ACKMP), and I am also on the Board of Directors and a past president of my community's homeowner's association. Neither of these are for-profit organizations but they do require an understanding of funding streams and fiscal responsibility and management, a commitment to providing the time, and preparation to ensure their success. I also coached my son's soccer team which required preparation time as well as a commitment to practices and games. I am a member of the Scottish-American Military Society, a fraternal organization that supports both Scottish-American and veterans' activities and programs. I have been fortunate to be able to share my love for music by participating in worship and arts programs at church and in community band programs. In the New Horizons Band program in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, I was the low brass section leader. What these have in common with each other and with the Toastmasters International Board of Directors is a commitment to dedicating the time and effort required to serve the group's needs.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
Yes, I have.
I was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Certified Knowledge Management Professionals, a new training and certification body founded in 2016 that has grown from nothing to over 150 members. I now serve on its Board of Regents. In both capacities I served as a principal advisor to ACKMP director and the board on certification programs and organizational governance and provided program management expertise. I served on the Leadership Advisory Board for The Defense Security Service from 2015 – 2019 and drafted over 50% of the core values and competencies for the agency's leadership development program. I served on the Board of Governors for a Defense Department training academy (2010 - 2019), the Governance Council for a US Defense Department skills certification program (2017-2019), and the Training and Education Council for a US Government career field (2010 - 2015), all of which developed training standards and provided oversight to training and certification programs. I am also on the Board of Directors and a past president of my community's homeowner's association which requires managing a limited budget to provide services to the community, developing policies for the community such as architectural standards and rules for the use of common spaces, and resolving complaints and conflicts. I have gained a lot of experience in governing bodies and the various roles they can play within organizations and their collaborative natures.
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
The Interim Plan 2020 carried over three focus areas from the 2015 Strategic Plan: Club Excellence, Member Achievement, Awareness and Engagement; and added Operational Effectiveness. I am pleased to see that all four of these focus areas are in the 2022-2024 Strategic Plan and articulate goals that, in my opinion, are the best constructed to date in one of our strategic plans. It also identifies the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the uncertainty this creates.
- Club Excellence: Support all clubs in providing a consistent, quality member experience by delivering on our brand promise: “Empowering individuals through personal and professional development.”
- Member Achievement: Support members in achieving their personal and professional communication and leadership goals through experiential learning.
- Awareness and Engagement: Expand global recognition of Toastmasters International programs to promote engagement, membership, and club growth.
- Operational Effectiveness: Create additional value for members, leaders, and stakeholders through standardized tools and processes, resulting in world-class operations.
Since reasonable, and measurable, goals are included I think this strategic plan is a great jumping off point to shape a successful future and meet Toastmasters' envisioned future. However, there are some elements of the 2015 Strategic Plan that I think are still relevant and complementary to the 2022-2024 focus areas, primarily an expansion of mobile accessibility, service to younger generations, and expansion to other markets.
- Expansion of mobile accessibility should actually be looked at as expansion of accessibility in general. Our membership population is diverse—geographically, culturally, generationally, economically, and with regards to access to technology. To meet the 2022-2024 focus areas, program delivery must be equally diverse. This will enhance both new membership growth and retention and offers potential revenue streams through innovative product delivery outside of club membership alone—such as developing and marketing corporate training programs that can also serve as conduits for membership growth.
- Service to younger generations: While the average age within Toastmasters is 46.2, the global median age is 31.0 with huge variations across countries and regions. Less than 42% of Toastmasters are under age 42—the Gen Zs, Millennials and young Gen Xs. Over 37% of members are 55 or older—retired or approaching retirement age. To thrive and grow as an organization and to ensure the development of future leaders the organization will need ten years from now and beyond, this ratio must begin to shift toward the younger generations through active growth, not just natural attrition of the older generations. Millennials are approaching mid-career points and looking for opportunities to increase their value and upward mobility, and Gen Z is entering the workforce and likewise looking to develop marketable skills. Toastmasters offers very marketable soft skills and aggressively pursuing this market should be a primary objective, one that fully supports and advances the 2022-2024 focus areas. This also offers opportunities to leverage the extensive Toastmasters, professional and life experience of our “seasoned” members to provide mentoring that can also assist retention.
- Expansion to other markets: Toastmasters is a US based global organization where most growth is taking place outside of North America in what are accurately characterized as emerging markets. Some of these emerging markets, even with the impact of Covid-19, are still experiencing significant growth. However, established markets, such as North America, still offer untapped potential and are far from saturated. The nature of those markets is not identical to the emerging markets. The younger generations and innovative product delivery, both addressed above, offer opportunities to tap these other markets. Doing so must also be a major objective, perhaps the major objective as Toastmasters must return to a growth trajectory with increasing revenue if we are to effectively meet the needs of existing and future members.
Additional information about candidate:
I live in Northern Virginia, part of the greater Washington DC Metro Area, with my wife of 39 years, Bethany—also a Toastmaster. We have three adult children. My interests outside of Toastmasters are pretty broad. I am an avid photographer which compliments my love of hiking. I also love music and I play guitar, trombone, and piano. Like many college graduates, I maintain a connection to my alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy, as a Life Member of the Association of Graduates. I remain connected to US military affairs through my membership in the Military Officers Association of America and membership in the American Legion.
I am an avid reader and I love histories, biographies, and books and articles on leadership and management. As US President Harry S Truman said a few decades ago – “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I've been known to indulge in some good science fiction books, movies and television series and I'm even willing to admit that I play Dungeons and Dragons (ask me about characters sometime).
Through the ever growing, and accessible, science of genetics and genealogy, I have recently learned that my ancestors were mostly Celtic—predominately from Scotland, but also Ireland, Brittany and Wales. This discovery provides an important reminder that like most Americans, my ancestors came here from somewhere else. It also provides a reminder that we are all connected and a belief that where we come from can be just as important as where we are going. I embraced this previously unknown heritage, and I am studying Scottish Gaelic and Irish as well as Celtic history and culture. As a result, I am now a member of the Scottish American Military Society combining my ancestral roots with my love for a profession—military service—that provided me with 30 years of training, education, and experience I could not have gained any other way.
The number of Toastmasters Clubs I belong to fluctuates. I have belonged to up to five at once. My home club is Leaders Circle, which is part of District 29 in Northern Virginia, but meets entirely virtually with members from across Region 7. I am almost always an officer in multiple clubs, a constant reminder that we are all members first and as leaders we need to always put the members first. I have been a charter member of four clubs, sponsored two clubs, mentored two clubs, and coached a club.
We, Toastmasters, have undergone several significant changes over the past few years, and that was before the pandemic. “Change is the only constant in life” (attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus among others) and there will undoubtedly be more of it. As leaders, we must embrace change and even be change agents. I am eagerly seeking the opportunity to serve on the Board and do whatever I can to help us navigate change and emerge as a stronger and more vibrant organization—I am asking to be given the opportunity to do so.