Karen Knight


Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 1

Toastmasters member since: 1995

Education: Certificate of Business Administration; Fine Furniture Diploma

Employer and/or position: 7 Points Millwork and Installations / Cabinet Maker and Finisher

Served as district governor of district number: 21

Term of service: 2015-2016

In term as district governor, district achieved:

Website: http://karenknightregion1.com

Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international and regional level):

Toastmasters honors and recognition (international level):

Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board member:

As a key member of a millwork company, I make decisions that impact the quality of our product. I set priorities that ensure that each job is completed on time and on budget. I use the mentoring skills learned in Toastmasters to inspire junior staff to complete their work in a way that contributes to our mission to be the leader of high-end residential and commercial millwork in our region. As a board member, I will use my ability to show others the big picture to help motivate and support the District teams in a global environment.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

As a member of the board of directors on the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association (KTRA), I participated in the creation and implementation of our 3 year plan, looking at all aspects of the non-profit organization including community engagement, social enterprise, staffing and administration, risk management and budgeting. As District 21 Director, I spearheaded the creation of a 5 year plan to re-set the District onto a solid footing. This involved the controversial and difficult decision to step away from the District Success Plan for a year to build the foundations that would allow us to maintain Distinguished status in the future.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

As the Vice President of KTRA, I have signing authority and am involved in budgetary discussions and decisions, including wages, capital purchases and operating budgets. I assist in reviewing financial statements and making decisions based upon them. To further improve my financial skills, I found a mentor who is coaching me to a fuller understanding of financial statements and terms. I also study to increase my knowledge and comprehension. This mentoring and studying have given me the ability and confidence to participate effectively in budget discussions on the KTRA board.

What experience do you have in developing policies?

I have served as both Chair and team member on various committees to take strategic plans and formulate the policies that would support them. At KTRA, for example, one committee involved reviewing the process by which we acknowledged donors, researching how other, similar, non-profits acknowledged their donors, and adjusting our structure to make it more effective.  

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

I’ve learned dozens of lessons in my positions over the years! The three most significant were: 1. asking for help and advice; 2. keeping the big picture in mind by remembering the difference between urgent and important; and 3. being more willing to make difficult personnel decisions. I have used these and other lessons to advantage in my club (from three active members to nineteen and 10 DCP points), in my work and in my personal life.

What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?

I have been a passionate missionary of Toastmasters for nearly a quarter of a century. I have a gift for connecting with people and a strong interest in meeting members from around the world, which has given me a wide global network and outlook. With my demonstrated ability in showing others how what they do fits into the big picture I motivate and inspire them to achieve excellence. I have a keen eye for seeing leadership potential in people, and a talent for inspiring them to step forward. These skills and experiences, along with my passion, dedication to the member and unquestioned integrity, make me an ideal addition to the board.

Why do you want to serve as an international officer/director?

Toastmasters is at a key point in its history, with the impact from the Pathways implementation, a new strategic plan being developed and the strengthening influence of non-North American members; I want to be one of the people to keep the organization moving forward toward excellence and inclusion. With a strong focus on the member experience and a unique perspective from my career choice, I can provide the Board and all our members with important and “out of the box” ideas to help the organization continue to improve.

What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?

I serve as Vice-President of the board of directors for KTRA; was a Big Sister, mentoring a young girl during her teenage years; assisted as an announcer for events at the BC Winter Games and for competitions and award ceremonies for our local gymnastics club, as well as events for GymCan, the Canadian national gymnastics organization.

Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters?

I currently serve as the Vice President of the board of directors for the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association and am involved in all aspects of its governance. I helped create our three year strategic plan, and the policies that support it. I chair the board when the President is absent. I am involved in decisions regarding marketing, risk management, budgeting, human resources and strategic direction.

In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?

One key objective of Toastmasters International is improving the quality of the member experience. By improving the excellence of our clubs, we increase retention and create sustainable growth. I have demonstrated a strong understanding of the elements of a successful meeting. This knowledge would help the board develop policies that support the districts in increasing the quality of our clubs. In addition, Toastmasters is focusing in on leadership succession. Too often the trios don’t progress consistently through the steps, and it can be hard to find members willing to step forward for senior positions. I have studied this problem and have ideas and suggestions that may contribute to a solution.

Additional information about candidate:

With Jeff, my husband, I am currently engaged in the challenging communication and leadership project of raising our teenaged son, Eric.  I am an avid reader, with over 2,000 books in my personal library - and yes, I have read them all!  I am a lover of adventure, of learning, and of experiencing differing cultures.