2021 Keynotes and Featured Speakers



Keynotes present diverse, remarkable speakers who deliver an impactful message. Keynotes speakers are the center of a Toastmasters Spring Conference and exemplify the skills that Toastmasters cultivates.

2021 Keynote

Presenting District 18’s Brian Olds

Perfection or Progress? How to Leverage Toastmasters to Ignite Your Passion & Illuminate Your Path to Prosperity

photo of keynote speaker Brian Olds

A burgeoning change agent in the industry, the Baltimore native inadvertently entered into the world of speaking when he delivered his first speech to the Morgan State University Toastmasters Club in 2006. Recalling this as one of his most defining life moments, Brian instantly connected to his passion when he found himself in front of a standing ovation at the conclusion of that speech. 

Identified as a “curator of collaboration,” Brian specializes in empowering rising professional speakers to create clarity, streamline systems and cultivate the relationships needed to reach the unique audience they are called to serve. His passion for speaking, diversity and building relationships led him to create Black Speakers Network (BSN), a membership-based professional speaker development and empowerment association. With thousands of members around the world, BSN holds the distinction of being the most accessible and fastest-growing development organization, dedicated to serving underrepresented speakers at all levels in their career. 

olds' book cover

Recognized as one of the brightest talents with a unique mix of corporate, academic and leadership, Old’s influence and prowess has warranted favorable opportunities to showcase his talent and spread awareness, beyond BSN. In 2015, he competed in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest, a competition with over 30,000 participants who compete for a chance to take part in the World Championship of Public Speaking®. Brian proudly advanced to the semi-finals, competing against the top 100 speakers around the world.

With a deep appreciation for the artistry of speaking at the helm of his career, Brian J Olds is defining success on his own terms. His impact is illustrated perfectly in industry mate Zig Ziglar’s quote, “It’s not where you start – it’s where you finish that counts.” 

Educational Sessions

Shurooq AlBanna

Shurooq AlBanna is a speaker from Dubai, United Arab Emirates who, in 2013, won 3rd place in the World Championship of Public Speaking.  Since then, she has continued to speak to audiences around the world to demystify the Arab Woman stereotype. 

As a humanitarian project manager for the NGO Noor Dubai Foundation, Shurooq has extensively travelled to remote areas in Africa and Asia to ensure program implementation.  With her expert guidance, Noor Dubai has helped over 25 million individuals in need worldwide since 2008. Shurooq is a graduate of the University of London in Genetics and Forensic Sciences. She is a contributing author to Women Of Success book and has been a columnist for Sail e-magazine since 2014. Her accolades include placing second as the distinguished female employee of the highly competitive Dubai Government Excellence Program and winning the UOWD Alumni award for Social Impact 2016. In her free time, Shurooq mentors, reads, meditates, practices gratitude, French and the Piano.  Contrary to most people, Shurooq considers 2020 to be one her most fulfilling years. What made her conclude this? Attend the educational session and be inspired by the Arab lady who has always been authentic to herself.

Uncomplicated Strategies to Dealing with a Pandemic: An Overview

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed so much to Shurooq about herself and environment. She learnt about germaphobia firsthand, battled with depression and hit a new low in her personal relationships. Even though Shurooq belongs to the scientific community, she struggled to accept the repercussions of Covid-19 and kept wishfully thinking the pandemic was just a long, bad dream. But as the months passed and her emotions were in a downward spiral, she realized the importance of taking action. It was a painfully difficult year, yet Shurooq managed to overcome the emotional and mental hurdles and ended the year on a happy note. She now considers the year 2020 to be a very fulfilling and healing time of her life. Join Shurooq in her educational session titled “Uncomplicated Strategies to Dealing with a Pandemic” as she reminisces about her unique experience of 2020 and be inspired by how she handled the pandemic and triumphed through it.     

Chendil Kumar (or CK)

CK is a civil engineer by training and a trainer by choice. With over 30 years of sales and marketing experience, CK is a corporate trainer based in Bangalore, India. CK, trained at the Harvard Law School on teaching ‘Negotiation in Organisations’ and trained under Dr Robert Cialdini, a worldwide authority on ‘Influence on Persuasion’, has many Fortune 500 companies as his clients. He also addressed the MBA Class of 2013 on ‘Persuade without Power’ at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
He joined Toastmasters in 2000 and has been an integral part of the First District formation committee comprising India and Srilanka. Now, CK is addressing various District Conferences across the world as a Keynote Speaker.

Join CK in his educational session peppered with lively anecdotes laced with humor and titled – ‘INFLUENCE WITHOUT AUTHORITY’, as he unravel the secrets of influencing across hierarchies and culture, especially when you don’t have a title to flaunt.

Guest Speakers

Stephen Shaner

Stephen Shaner has been studying the concept of “attitude” for more than 30 years. Specifically, his interest has focused on how attitude affects people, and the people around them. He has incorporated learning experiences from a multitude of sources, research, and training relative to behavior, attitude, ethics, and business and personal relations. Stephen, as a facilitator of Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” for 15 years, was able to gain powerful insight.

These opportunities led him to design informative and relevant presentations. Coupled with his contagious attitude, his extensive experience has made him a popular resource for keynotes, seminars, workshops, private sessions, newsletters and articles. He is a sought-after mentor for business professionals and individuals seeking for meaningful and lasting improvement.

In his professional life, after 20 years of employment with HealthPartners, Stephen recently retired as the Manager of the Regional Technology Center in Duluth, Minnesota. He is an active member of Toastmasters International, where he has held many leadership positions, including District Director and Region Advisor. Stephen currently lives with his wife in Tennessee.

Stephen continues to incorporate his leadership and communication skills to help professional and private entities meet their specific demands and goals. His success is based on delivering personalized training, guidance, and entertaining messages, and his passion for teaching and sharing his knowledge for the benefit of those around him.

Tim Gard

Tim Gard, CSP, CPAE is a tears-in-your-eyes-laugh-out-loud speaker who teaches people to be more resilient and resourceful and coaches businesses on how to enhance productivity and employee enthusiasm. Talented, Innovative, and Memorable, Tim provides amazing take-home value delivered with his one-of-a-kind presentation style Tim “walks his talk” as a successful business owner himself for more than 20 years. Before starting his business, he worked in the Sales Industry, as well as State and Federal Government; in Human Services, as a fraud investigator and is a navy veteran. Recognized as a pioneer in humor-based training. Tim is a certified speaking professional (CSP) & a member of the Speaker Hall Of Fame, an elite honor held by fewer than 150 speakers worldwide. The author or co-author of Just Plane Funny, My Policy Manual, Motivational Leaders, and Humor Me, Tim humorously delivers messages as universal as his audiences are diverse. Tim was the closing Keynote Speaker at the 2015 Toastmasters International Conference in Las Vegas Nevada.

Laughter Becomes You:  We all smile and laugh in the same language. Humor unites us and is the fastest, easiest and funnest way to connect with our audiences, our families our coworkers or virtually anyone. Join us and experience how anyone can develop and apply their Comic Vision™ to become more resourceful and resilient at work and in their personal lives. Tim’s rejuvenating and immediately applicable message teaches audiences how to increase morale while enhancing productivity and everyday enthusiasm in three short, and easy to adopt, steps. His unique yet practical ideas help people diffuse routine or extreme stress by insulating themselves against negativity. He shows audiences how to “refresh and renew” themselves simply by using and sharing his techniques. His terrifically funny, unique stories (and of course, extraordinary visual props) make this keynote one to remember forever. 

Region 7 International Director Candidates

Region 7 2021-2022 International Director Candidates

Elmer Hill

How many district directors have managed the challenge of leading a large district split? Elmer Hill masterfully handled the reformation of District 37 into District 37 and District 117.

Now Elmer is ready to move into his next leadership opportunity which is to be an International Director from Region 7.

Perry Neal

I’m running for International Director because I want the opportunity to:

  • give back to the organization that has given me so much.
  • continue my leadership journey because, honestly, I have something to offer.
  • improve transparency in our organization.
  • ensure that the board’s focus is on the member.

Dana Richards

I am not done growing as a person and a leader and I continue to seek out opportunities that will help my continued growth while also allowing me to contribute. I will add value to the board through my global perspective, board and budget experience, collaborative team experience, and leadership ability. I hope to bring my experience of developing strategic plans and policies to service on the board to contribute to the Toastmasters mission

The board is a tremendous opportunity 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. I have lived a life of service and for me, being an International Director is the next chapter in that life of service. I also 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.