Mark Lucas, DTM

Mark Lucas, DTM

Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 2

Toastmasters member since: 2012

Education: B.S. Biology, Texas A&M University, 1984, M.S. Information Security Management, SANS Institute, 2022

Employer and/or position: California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Data Center Operations Manager

Served as District Director of District number: 100

Term of service: 2018-2019

In term as District Director, District achieved:  Distinguished


Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):

  • 2017-2018 Program Quality Director District 100
  • 2018-2019 District Director District 100
  • 2021-2022 Region Advisor
  • 2022-2023 Past Region Advisor Committee Member

Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):

  • 2017-2018 Excellence in Program Quality
  • 2018-2019 Distinguished District Director

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

With over 40 years of working with customers, colleagues and teams from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures I have developed the sensitivity and patience to pay attention to each individual. I have brought together previously adversarial groups to accomplish a mutually beneficial mission and provide higher value to the overall community.

26 years of Information Technology employment has provided both a historical perspective of where we came from and a vision of possible futures. Working in such a fast-changing industry allows me to easily pivot and change priorities as circumstances demand without sacrificing long-term goals and strategies developed in close collaboration with senior leadership.

Managing a departmental budget and being a key player in planning and financial expenditures for multi-million dollar infrastructure, system, and building refresh projects has trained me to look at every detail, read all project documents cover to cover, and ask questions that both clarify perspectives for the decision makers and point out potential road blocks to successful completion. Keeping close watch on project options, I continually look for opportunities to exercise fiscal responsibility while still providing the services requested.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

Actively working with upper management including C-Suite stakeholders to position the university's computing infrastructure for the next 20 years.

Spearheaded the strategic plan for electronic communication within the organization.

Key planning role in another non-profit to produce an annual event both in-person and, during COVID Lockdown, fully online. The event draws astronauts, scientists, engineers, and space exploration enthusiasts from all walks of life and countries spanning the globe.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

Manage a departmental budget of US $500,000 including salaries, benefits, operating expenses, and service level agreement income.

Key stakeholder with budgeting input and decision making for a US $2.5 million data center renovation project.

Primary negotiator for service level agreements with internal stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and countries of origin.

Detailed experience reviewing contracts with vendors, negotiating pricing, and clarifying services rendered to best serve the Institute.

What experience do you have in developing policies?

As an information technology professional, I have had the opportunity to develop policies and practices to protect confidential and proprietary information.

In my work, I carefully review suggested policies and continue to stay aware of current thinking in leadership policies and principles.

Leading my own team through internal policy creation and job documentation procedures helps me refine my strategic thinking, looking at the next steps and multi-year consequences.

I was a key member of the team that created the operating polices for the newly established District 100 of Toastmasters International.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

As a leader, 100% consensus and perfect information are myths which lead to analysis paralysis. As a new District Director, I strived to gain agreement from every DEC member and gather all the information to make the ideal decisions to take us to Smedley Distinguished. Rather than moving us forward toward our goal, I stagnated the District as they awaited my final plans. Discovering there were no perfect decisions and no way to make every leader and every member happy, I finally made decisions with imperfect information and the input of all stakeholders.

Clear communications, small steps building to a large accomplishment, and recognition of positive moves toward the goal results in a team that is stronger than any individual. As we were nearing the goal of Distinguished District, the groundswell of excitement paired with continual recognition of each accomplishment and setting aside my ego and let my team run with what they knew had to be done, resulted in success.

Care for your people and they will walk through fire for you. As a new manager at work, I spent the first six months listening. I learned the ebb and flow of the department and discovered each team members' strengths and weaknesses. Paying attention to not just the work performance, but their personal struggles and accomplishments has created a cohesive team. Good and bad news delivered early and often now flows freely through the department. The team has become a cohesive unit, helping each other and other departments to achieve goals that support the entire organization.

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

Stability and focus on long-term solutions in the face of changing short-term priorities and requirements.

Fast-to-fail mentality - fearlessness to change tactics when the evidence shows clear failure of the current plan allowing the organization to maintain steady progress toward the ultimate goal.

Broad education and experience across multiple disciplines bringing insights to the Board and openness to new information and ideas.

Clear awareness that I don't know everything tempered with a healthy dose of skepticism to filter incoming information, personalities, and events. A willingness to change my opinion in the face of wise counsel along with a strong dedication to my core values.

Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?

Toastmasters International has provided me with the skills and opportunities to move from individual contributor to strategic planner and influencer. My life has become happier and more fulfilling as a result. I want to see Toastmasters International continue to evolve and thrive for future generations. As an International Director, I will have the opportunity to use these very skills to help ensure this future.

As International Director, I get to learn a whole new set of skills that will help me in my career and my personal life. I've learned that in Toastmasters, no matter which leadership role I have taken on, I have always gained so much more than I gave. I know that the International Director role will provide that same experience.

What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?

I am Global IT support for SpaceKind Global - the parent organization of Yuri's Night Global for the past 10 years. Yuri's night is an annual celebration facilitating worldwide networking between astronauts, engineers, scientists, explorers, and space enthusiasts of all ages. I work with and solve problems for people worldwide as they plan and advertise their local celebrations as well as supporting the flagship event at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

As Troop Committee Chair for our daughter's BSA (Boy Scouts of America) Troop, I maintain constant and timely communications to afford the greatest number of opportunities to our Scouts. I also interface with District and Council leaders, ensuring that both parents and Scouts maintain their training and registration.

As a music and sound enthusiast, I volunteer as the sound engineer for student-produced plays at Caltech. Regular interaction with the new generation of international students often working on cutting edge research projects keeps me in touch with the reality of modern college life.

Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.

I regularly work with the Board of Directors of the non-profit, SpaceKind, gaining a clear understanding of the struggles of an all-volunteer non-profit loosely organized around several annual projects and youth causes.

At my work, I regularly speak with the CIO and am often in meetings with other campus leaders.

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

Trust has been eroded between International and District Leaders/Members. I can contribute to rebuilding this trust with appropriate transparency and timely communications as approved by the Board. Reviewing the implementation of strategic initiatives is a skill I regularly exercise at work and can bring to the Board Room.

As a worldwide organization dedicated to equity, it is unconscionable that members in some parts of the world wait weeks or months for the delivery of items ordered from our store. It is unrealistic in this age of global commerce that some members and leaders must stay up late or awake early to talk to our staff residing in a distant time zone. There are basic expectations for accessibility both on computers and mobile devices, and diverse payment options that are readily available but not yet implemented by our organization. I will support initiatives brought to the Board to move toward a more equitable experience in all these areas of our programs and services.

I would support an exploration by the Board of a 10-20 year long-term strategic plan to clarify a potential path toward our envisioned future, in addition to the necessary short term 2-5 year strategies.

Additional information about candidate:

As the father of two children both dedicated to Scouting and Gavel Club, I've watched them grow and mature in their leadership skills. It is of utmost importance to me that my children and, one day, their children have the same opportunities to learn communication, leadership and begin to understand worldwide cultures and traditions earlier than I did. To that end, we celebrate and educate ourselves in the holidays and traditions around the world. Based on my passion for the exploration of our cosmos, we honor the accomplishments of the multi-national crew aboard the International Space Station and follow all the scientific achievements across the globe that bring us to a deeper understanding of our world. I am inspired by the detailed team model designed and implemented by space agencies in their goal of sending humans into hostile environments and bringing them safely back to Earth with new knowledge.