Distinguished Toastmasters in 2019 - 2020

Last fiscal year, 21 Toastmasters in District 49 were awarded Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designations. This recognition is the greatest honor that can be earned by a member of Toastmasters International (TI). The DTM award is only given to those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and communication skills and who have used these skills to help others in their self-development efforts.

Attaining this award is not an easy task. All awardees have completed projects of progressive complexity, earning successive awards to reach DTM status. These accomplishments have given them a wider perspective of the value of being a good communicator and an effective leader. They have assisted their clubs, district and community.

This outstanding achievement will serve as an inspiration to all Toastmasters.  Congratulations on your great achievement!

Brian Childres

Currently Toastmaster outside District 49
Brian Childres Toastmasters
DTM awarded 8/29/2016

I joined Toastmasters in 2014.

DTM Diggy Bell from Abilene Texas and DTM Jicky Ferrer from Hawaii helped me most.

The most challenging step to reach DTM was helping out behind the scenes with the contests.  I don’t think people realize how much work goes into those events.

The most valuable skill that I learned is the ability to give feedback.  Some folks need a confidence boost.  Some need to be challenged.  Some praised.  Toastmasters didn’t just teach me how to identify the needs of others, but it gave me the platform to practice different approaches.   This has proven invaluable in my military leadership roles.  It has literally saved lives and I’m so grateful for it.

Carl Takata

Waikiki Club, Winners Circle II Club
Carl Takata Toastmasters
DTM awarded 9/13/2019

I began my DTM journey on July 1, 2009, when I was an Area Governor under District Governor Carolyn “Cat” Sawai.

Greg Ching and other district officers helped me most along the way.

The most challenging step for me in reaching a DTM was being a Club coach. I have been a club coach three times and succeeded the third time. Then, finding time was a problem due to work, family, community service organizations (such as Moanalua Lions), soccer, running and exercise demands.

The most valuable skill I gained was confidence in evaluating and coaching others.  I also tested the limits of my persistence and resilience.

Nicanor Joaquin

Kamehameha Toastmasters Club, Hawaii Speakers Bureau, Catalyst Club, Pearl City Club, Pathways Central, Laulima Toastmasters Club
Nicanor Joaquin Toastmaster
DTM awarded 11/22/2019

I joined Toastmasters in 2013.

My mentor was Charles Mole. Charles didn't own a car and took two bus rides to help me with my icebreaker speech. For my virtual meetings and presentations, Sherry Imamura-Ryan and Dan Orias spent hours teaching me how to navigate.

Lessons learned: active listening from viewing prepared speeches of other Toastmasters.

Speech Evaluation was a stepping stone for both the growth of other Toastmasters and myself.

Janet Andres

Nuuanu Toastmasters Club
Janet Andres Toastmasters
DTM awarded 1/11/2020

I started with Toastmasters in October 2013.

I was truly fortunate to join Nuuanu Toastmasters where there are so many experienced and active Toastmasters; many of whom are DTMs and former district officers. I learned something from every member but especially from Rose KirlandNelson Nakagawa and Anne Myers whose knowledge, help and support made my experience quite memorable.

The most challenging step for me was finding the time and energy to complete my High Performance Leadership program and club sponsor duties while fulfilling my role as Program Quality Director in 2017-2018.

The most valuable skills I learned were writing and delivering speeches.

Fran Cuesta

Catalyst Club, Mililani Club
Fran Cuesta Toastmasters
DTM awarded 5/15/2020

Although I joined Toastmasters in 2013, I began my DTM journey in 2018. I had no intention of obtaining the highest award in Toastmasters. My goal was to continue to participate with Toastmasters to learn, gain experience, and progress in my communication and leadership skills. If Jicky Ferrer had not encouraged me to obtain my DTM before June 2020, I would have not considered it.

My mentors/fellow members who helped me the most were Rose SuemotoSherry Imamura-RyanJicky Ferrer, and Richard Agbanlog. They were very supportive and inspirational in guiding me to become a leader who is able to assist others.

The most challenging step to reach DTM status was being committed, determined, and motivated. I had to make the time and put forth the effort to complete projects; becoming a leader aside from my job, family, and as part of another organization.

The most valuable skill that I gained was self-confidence. I believed in myself.  I knew I had courage and strength to achieve something, step out of my comfort zone, and tell myself “I can do that.”

Gerald Toyomura

City And County of Honolulu Toastmasters, Catalyst Club, Pearl City Toastmasters Club
Gerald Toyomura DTM
DTM awarded 5/21/2020

I started my DTM journey when I joined Toastmasters in 2002, but my quest for the DTM really didn’t start till I heard the conventional Toastmaster program was going to end soon.  I had only two years to finish the program and attain a Distinguished Toastmaster award!

Fortunately, at that time, I was encouraged to join a new club that was focused on helping all who wanted to achieve their DTM before the deadline.  I had just completed my Competent Communicator Award and Competent Leader Award, and I didn’t want all the work I did go to waste, so I joined the Catalyst Club to help me complete my DTM.   All the members of the Catalyst Club were my mentors and helped me achieve my DTM.  However, my two mentors for my HPL, Sherry Imamura-Ryan, DTM and Charles Mole, DTM, were a tremendous help to me.

The most challenging step for me was to complete about 50 speeches in two years.  That meant completely at least two speeches per month for two years straight, plus the other projects including the High-Performance Leadership project, which was to organize the Area Table Topics and International Speech Contests for Areas 2, 7, and 9.

I learned many techniques to improve my presentation skills and gained a lot of knowledge in giving speeches, but the most valuable skill I developed was self-confidence and it came from doing the speeches and taking on leadership roles.

Paulette Williams

Ala Moana Toastmasters, Phoenix Rising Kapolei, Catalyst Club, Hawaii Speakers Bureau, Pathways Central, Phenomenal Wahine Gravel Club
Paulette Williams Toastmasters
DTM awarded 5/31/2020

I joined San Antonio Toastmasters Club in 1986 when I was on active duty serving as an Army Nurse. Since the first meeting until now, I have been passionate about Toastmasters. I was awarded Area Governor of the Year while in Texas. When I arrived in Hawaii in 1989, I immediately joined Toastmasters as a charter member of Paradise Toastmasters at Tripler Army Medical Center and immediately started serving as a District Officer and later as District 49 Governor, 1994-95. I was so involved in recruiting members and establishing clubs that I didn’t take the time to complete the paperwork for DTM. When I learned that the traditional program was ending, I decided it was time to concentrate on me and started the journey to DTM with the Catalyst Club.

My mentors along the way were Joel Zarate and Michael Roth from Texas. Tim KeckDoug KellyJicky FerrerSherry Imamura-Ryan and Willie Jones were my mentors in Hawaii.

The most valuable skill I gained during my Toastmasters journey is learning to feel comfortable in front of an audience. My goal is to become the World Champion of Public Speaking.

Donna Olivas-Kaohi

Kauai Club
Donna Olivas Kaohi Toastmaster
DTM awarded 6/16/2020

I joined Toastmasters in 2001 and had no intention of achieving DTM, but was nudged by my mentor, DTM, Azi Turturici. When I became an area director in 2016, I started to take my DTM journey seriously.

My fellow Kauai club members have always been very supportive from day one. I'm so grateful for many mentors who offered words of wisdom and encouragement along the way, especially when I felt way out of my comfort zone. Azi Turturici was very instrumental in my journey. She literally dragged me to my very first TM meeting (I am glad she did) and has guided me every step of the way. When I served as district officer, both Nelson Nakagawa and DTM Rose Kirland were extremely helpful and supportive and always willing to lend a helping hand. They both taught me the art of delegating tasks and to never be afraid to ask questions or for help.

Reaching DTM was a challenge, especially the last six months, when the pandemic hit, I considered putting off my HPL and then I remembered a speech I had done a couple of years back where I encouraged people to T.R.Y. - Tenacity, Resilience and remembering your "Y". Balancing work, family and other responsibilities was tough, but, with the support of my mentor, Azi, our club VP of Education, I buckled down and set a timeline. By the grace of God, I earned my DTM.

Through Toastmasters, I have been blessed both professionally and personally. I have gained the confidence to be a better communicator and leader and to use those skills to encourage others to do the same.

Mary Irwin

Mililani Club, Pineapple Country Toastmasters, The Nooners Club, Catalyst Club
Mary Irwin Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/21/2020

I started my Toastmaster journey in 2016.

My Mentors were Don Glover and Sherry Imamura-Ryan.

The most challenging step to reaching my DTM was being assigned as a Club Coach.

The most valuable skill I learned was tolerance. Don Glover taught me how to be calm and tolerant. Sherry taught me to keep educating myself and to use my teamwork skills to pass on knowledge to others.

Rosanne T. Donohoe

The Nooners Club, Catalyst Club
Rosanne T. Donohoe Toastmaster
DTM awarded 6/21/2020

Journey:  It began in July 2018. Once the June 2020 deadline was announced to achieve DTM, I kicked my plan into high gear and plowed through my remaining projects.

Mentors: The Nooners Club members 2000-2018, Catalyst Club members 2018-2020, Holly HollowayRose Suemoto, and Sherry Imamura-Ryan.

Challenge: Self motivation to execute and complete each requirement in a timely manner.

Outcome: A sense of accomplishment was the most valuable outcome as completion of the DTM goal was work intensive with no extension in sight.

Mitchell Blocker

Mililani Club, Pineapple Country Toastmasters, The Nooners Club, Catalyst Club
Mitch Blocker Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/21/2020

I started my Toastmaster journey in 2016.

The Mentors most helpful to me were Don Glover and Sherry Imamura-Ryan.

The most challenging step in reaching my DTM was being assigned as a Club Coach.

The most valuable skill I learned was developing myself into a good leader by encouraging teamwork. With my Mentor, Sherry Imamura-Ryan, I learned how essential it is to keep educating myself and the importance of relationships.

Motto in Mitchell's email signature: “All speaking is public speaking, whether it is to one person or a thousand.”
--Roger Love

Sharla Sare

Hilo Toastmasters Club, Kona Toastmasters Club, 
Sharla Sare Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/22/2020

I started Toastmasters journey in 2012 with the Hilo Toastmasters Club,

Shawndra Holmberg was my first mentor and got me off to a great start. After her, NJ Moses and Sharon Justice were such great examples and support. I learned so much also from Joann McCabe.

My High-Performance Leadership Project was the most challenging hurdle, but it was also the most rewarding. Another difficult task was coaching the Kona Toastmasters Club and getting them to presidential status.

The most important thing I learned was the value of teamwork. I also loved the opportunity to mentor. I feel it is the most important role you get to experience; watching the growth of a fellow toastmaster. I have also learned leadership by serving in various roles. I have had the opportunity to serve as an Area Director and Division Director; meeting and appreciating fellow Toastmasters and the differences and skills I learned from them. I have been lucky to serve as President, Secretary and VPE of my Hilo Club.

Vital Green

Camp Smith Toastmasters, Ford Island Toastmasters, 
Vital A. Green Toastmaster
DTM awarded 6/23/2020

I joined Toastmasters in 2016. Initially having no interest in becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster. My mentor, DTM Jicky Ferrer, encouraged me to reconsider. I did, and in 2019, I started my DTM journey.

It took the support of many fellow Toastmasters to achieve this honor. I am extremely grateful to them all, especially to DTM Sherry Imamura-Ryan and DTM Jicky Ferrer. They both mentored me through the entire DTM process, to include the High-Performance Leadership Project, which was the most challenging step for me.

Overall, my DTM journey was a great learning experience. I learned to be more patient, trusting and flexible. Most of all, I learned that - runners run with you. Once I became determined to achieve DTM status, I discovered myself surrounded by individuals equally determined to see me succeed.

Donna Curtis

Catalyst Club, Mililani Club, 
Donna Curtis Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/23/2020

I joined Toastmasters in 2015. Originally, I was not trying to become a Distinguished Toastmaster. I just wanted to get better at public speaking. When Pathways was introduced as the new educational program and Toastmasters International was going to gradually phase out old manuals, I panicked. I was invited to join Catalyst club, which was chartered to help members achieve DTM before the end of the old program.

I got great support from many people from Catalyst Club who believed in me, especially Fran CuestaRose SuemotoSherry Imamura-RyanRichard AgbalongCharles Mole, and Jicky Ferrer. They cheered me on and always helped when I didn't know how to do things. Catalyst Club members challenged me to reach beyond my limits.

I believe the High-Performance Leadership project was my biggest challenge together with limitations brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The greatest lesson I learned was to accept the different leadership styles of my mentors and understand my own style. This has been a fun ride!

Sam Ragland

Kona Toastmasters Club, Waimea Toastmasters
Sam Ragland Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/24/2020

I joined Toastmasters in October 2014.

I benefited most from the Waimea and Kona club members, some of the Hilo and Puna club members, and some division and district leaders. More than a dozen Toastmasters played a significant role in shaping my Toastmaster's journey.

What I liked the most about Toastmasters is that every member invests in the betterment of their fellow Toastmasters. The challenging step for me was club coaching.

I gained confidence and leadership skills through this process.

Scott Copeland

Prince Kuhio Toastmasters Club, Pathways Central
Scott Copeland Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/25/2020

I began my Toastmaster’s journey in 2004 at Sumter Area Toastmasters, in Sumter South Carolina after discovering professionally that my speeches, while technically good, had no spark with my audience, no connection.

My greatest mentors in my DTM journey were DTM Douglas Wilson, my first VPE, the members of Sumter Area Toastmasters and Shaw Afterburners Toastmasters, DTM Sherry Imamura-Ryan, DTM Karen Spangler, DTM Kenoi Kolii, CC/ALB Kim Okamura and the rest of my fellow Prince Kuhio TM members and officers who gave up their time, feedback and support.

My greatest challenge was in truly committing to learning the skills needed to complete the requirements to become a DTM. I always “wanted” to be a DTM, but it was only the last couple of months of this toastmaster year and my first two years as a Toastmaster, that I fully understood the difference between commitment and interest...no excuses.

The greatest thing I learned is commitment is the key to any intentional growth. I was mostly growing by accident before learning that concept.

Mark Komatsu

Kamehameha Toastmasters Club, Catalyst Club, Liliuokalani Club
DTM awarded 6/26/2020

I began focusing on my DTM journey in 2017.

My fellow members in LiliuokalaniKamehamehaCPBWalkie Talkiez, and Catalyst provided excellent support throughout my journey. For mentoring me through some of the most difficult parts of the DTM process, I would like to thank Sherry Imamura-RyanSepiuta HolakeituaiRosanne DonohoeCaron Lau, and Gloria Shishido for their extra encouragement, hands-on support, and lead-by-example leadership.

The most difficult step was finding time between my home and work responsibilities.  Though Zoom made it easier to attend meetings, finishing a key project took effort.

The most valuable skill I learned is the importance of time management. Time is an adversary we all face in our personal and professional lives, so it helps to gain scheduling tools to help manage time.

Shirley Watanabe

Nuuanu Toastmasters Club, Hawaii Speakers Bureau, Catalyst Club, Pathways Central
DTM awarded 1/3/2020


Karen Spangler

Pineapple Country Toastmasters, Prince Kuhio Toastmasters Club, Catalyst Club, 
DTM awarded 11/22/2019


Jicky Ferrer

Camp Smith Toastmasters, DIAlog Hawaii, Ford Island Toastmasters, Hickam AFB Club #520, Catalyst Club, Paradise Hawaii, Honolulu's Finest Club, LIST Toastmasters
DTM awarded 6/22/2020


John Coleman

Catalyst Club, Pathways Central, Honolulu's Finest Club, Hawaii Speakers Bureau
DTM awarded 6/24/2020


Last modified: September 3, 2020
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