Karen Lucas, DTM
Candidate's Office: Second Vice President
Region Number: 2
Toastmasters member since: 2007
Education: Degree in Applied and Liberal Arts Studies, Pasadena City College; Project Management Certificate - Caltech
Employer and/or position: Ashlar Industries — Chief Operations Officer
Served as District Director of District number: 100
Term of service: 2017-2018
In term as District Director, District achieved: Not distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):
- 2014-2015 District F Division H Director
- 2015-2016 District F Area H2 Director
- 2015-2016 District 12 Area E1 Director
- 2016-2017 District F Program Quality Director
- 2017-2018 District 100 Director
- 2018-2019 Immediate Past District 100 Director
- 2020-2022 International Director
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):
- 2016 Distinguished Toastmaster Award
- 2016-2017 Excellence in Program Quality
- 2018 Founders District Spirit of Excellence Award
- 2020 Distinguished Toastmaster Award
- 2020-2021 District 100 Club Coach of the Quarter — Quarter 1
- 2021 Distinguished Toastmaster Award
- 2021-2022 District 100 Club Coach of the Quarter — Quarter 2
- 2021-2022 District 100 Outstanding Club and Member Achievement Award
- 2021-2022 District 100 Transformational Interactive Experience Award
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
My ten years at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California polished my aptitude working with risk management, project and fiscal management. As a Chemical Engineering Department Administrator, I was accustomed to the daily experience of working in unique, multicultural environments supporting some of the most innovative researchers hailing from 30+ countries on the planet. Effectively designing and implementing business operations and establishing policies to support a staff of 30 with a $20 million budget that promotes the culture and vision are what exemplify the required skills for an International Officer.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
Professionally, my world is asking "what if” scenarios in fluid circumstances. I bring a unique perspective to strategic approach: The tactical on the ground scenario changes the strategic tack. There is an integration between operations and strategy. In the non-profit arena, as a Tournament of Roses member (a Pasadena-based New Year's Day Parade and Football Game broadcasted worldwide) my ability to introduce and communicate new technology in support of the organization’s target strategy to capture younger viewership led to the development of an annual Post Parade Podcast on iTunes. Implementing this concept contributed to the current approach of integrating a century-old event with younger, tech savvy audiences. Thus, I learned how to embrace technology to enhance our event to reach people who normally wouldn't participate or feel connected to us.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
My current financial experience at Ashlar Industries includes initiation of new sales funnels and establishing financial guidelines and strategies to maintain a solvent business entity. I look forward to working with the Executive Committee relating to opportunities Toastmasters can consider to become relevant in serving more people and resilient in having multiple revenue streams.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
One of my professional experiences in policy development was while at Caltech in the Environment, Health and Safety office. We embraced a policy on decay-in-storage authorized radioactive byproduct material. Rather than send all radioactive waste to a subcontractor, for example, we provided a better, cost-efficient service by collecting short half-life radioactive waste onsite for ten half-lives to decay-in-storage. We collaborated on creating, updating and drafting policies depending on the new research and any lessons learned from incidents on campus. Working with students, staff and faculty who are working with hazardous materials for their research requires safety without interrupting their work or breaking their budget.
Developing policy is a lot like having a new home or a new car. Preventative maintenance allows increased lifespan (or relevance) and decreased cost (improved understanding and efficiency, complies with laws and current practices).
While International Director, one of my favorite experiences was while working on the Governing Documents Committee auditing existing Policy. The Bylaws mandate a full review every three years; this practice in Toastmasters encodes a layer of preventive maintenance. I was beyond thrilled at the opportunity to work with fellow Board members reviewing over 88,000 words in our Governing Documents to ensure they are clear, accurate, without conflict or contradiction, and reflect real-world practice. (Our mandate does not allow creating new Policy.)
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
I lean on my experience upon taking any leadership role. I am a lifelong learner seeking to practically apply what I learn in new and innovative ways. Being tenacious, resilient, and possessing grit are tenets of our family's intergenerational philosophy; I strive daily to create a culture of excellence in all that I do through these qualities.
Serving as a leader in Toastmasters, especially as International Director, was a daily learning experience. The work and each relationship cultivated was exciting and rewarding. Moreover, how we worked has profoundly helped me in mitigating my hearing loss and communicating effectively.
I have also learned to be more vulnerable and more trusting thanks to the incredible mentoring program our Board has in place. I served on the Board when the world locked down and many conversations with members dealt with the loss of resources, or a job, or — in too many cases to count — of a close family member or friend. We shared this inescapable landscape together. Reckoning each personal loss and staying steadfast serving our members in any way I could indelibly recorded on my face and in my heart the durable cost of hope and leaping into faith. Never have I felt so grateful nor such strength as I do now.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
My professional background requires a deep understanding of risk management, business continuity, and navigating crisis. As someone who has experienced post traumatic growth, my lifelong passion is to serve others in times of crisis, conflict, and/or high risk environments.
I love what I do and want to practically apply my unique experience to drive our collaborative responsibility for the health and growth of our organization. Our program should attract and keep people within our ranks because there is no better, accessible way to get such value. As your Second Vice President, I look forward to working with the Executive Committee and the Board to set a unified, contagious tone capable of mobilizing our membership towards excellence.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
As this year's Smedley Club One President, I assure you if we hadn't evolved as an organization from our humble beginnings in 1924, only three of our current club members would be eligible to take advantage of Toastmasters and I wouldn't have the benefit of being a member. Thankfully, we've expanded and now welcome the world to join us.
Our work is not done.
Our continuing organizational agility will be a key component of our success and future growth. Having served our members in any format possible has been illuminating. I am driven to perform with purpose and leverage my experience working with diverse teams harnessing a “mission first, members always” focus. As a leader, I strive to be tough, competent, and courageous in all that I do. Let us continue to evolve and be of value by unlocking everyone's “why:” People come to Toastmasters for all they can do; people stay Toastmasters for all they can be.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
Having served and celebrated 15 years with the Tournament of Roses, working with youth in Girl Scouts and as a Scoutmaster for Scouts BSA, and participating in Infragard (a non-profit dedicated to strengthening national security and community resilience) are just a few experiences where I enjoy investing my time.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
I have extensive Board experience, including my recent service as your Toastmasters International Director. Other boards include the Health Physics Society Government Relations Committee, the United Nations Association, and Yuri's Night Global. Serving diverse populations in these various roles has taught me key lessons in strategic leadership:
- Leading with honesty and transparency requires courage, builds trust, and will foster the curiosity, creativity, and inclusivity required to adapt and innovate.
- Being aware without being overwhelmed allows focus and discipline to navigate through any environment. Thinking deeply and collaborating with others who do the same yields the ability to make hard decisions and manage crises without compromising integrity.
- Constructive criticism should be taken earnestly, not personally. As a leader and a lifelong learner, taking full ownership of the successes and the failures only comes when all feedback is actively heard. The criticism hardest to hear tends to be the most valuable.
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
Our critical success factor is ensuring that you as a member is served well. What does this look like? You can consistently access our core program with ease and efficiency. You can connect readily with the support you need. You have leadership in your club, your district, and internationally that inspires you to stretch yourself. You are becoming the best version of yourself in a fun, inviting environment. How do we achieve this? We can futureproof our organization by delivering on the fundamentals for all members worldwide to recruit and retain passionate advocates, build trust through building relationships, and foster resilience and innovation.
Additional information about candidate:
I lost most of my hearing when I was three years old. In addition to daily language lessons, Toastmasters has profoundly helped how I give and receive communication. It should be shared with everyone – especially family, friends, and coworkers. Toastmasters is a family affair in our household! My true love, Mark, joined Toastmasters “for a girl” (I didn’t know it at the time)! Our 13 year-old son Xavier and 11 year-old daughter Emily are both passionate Gaveliers in the Caltech Gavel Club. We enjoy travelling as a family for 2-3 months annually... Especially if rock climbing, rappelling, and scuba diving is involved!