Division J: Helyn Ashford

Candidate’s Name:

Helyn Ashford

Toastmasters member since:



Level 1-4 of Innovative planning pathway

Level 1-3 of Team Collaboration pathway

Toastmasters offices held and terms of service:

Club Secretary-July 2021-June2022

Club VPE July 2022-June2023

Club President July2023-Present

Area Director Feb 2023-June2023 (J22)

Area Director July 2023-present (J10)

Toastmasters honors and recognition:

Various Best Speaker certificates from various clubs in J10 Runner-up in Humorous J10 Area contest 2021 Contestant in J10 Area International speech contest 2022 VPE of Presidents Distinguished club 2023 (Cardiff) Member of President distinguished club 2023 (Didcot) Area Director of Distinguished area 2023 (J22)

Assistant Area Director for President Distinguished Area 2023 (J10)

Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a District leader:

I currently run my own business which has given me knowledge and experience in finance, planning and communication. In my toastmaster roles, I have consistently demonstrated leadership skills and strategic thinking, which directly relate to my responsibilities within Toastmasters as a District leader. For example I introduced a new working system for the role of secretary which is still being implimented in the club now. I successfully managed a team as President and Area Director, which has given me the knowledge and experience to successfully manage a bigger group. This experience equipped me with the ability to motivate and guide individuals toward a common objective, taken into account the needs of members and the DLT.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

I have substantial experience in strategic planning within my leadership roles. As a business owner, I engaged in strategic planning to define the long-term vision and goals of the company. This involved analysing market trends, identifying opportunities for growth, and formulating plans to address potential challenges.

In my role as the president of Toastmasters, I led the development of strategic plans for the club’s overall growth and success. This includes setting objectives for membership expansion, enhancing the quality of meetings and educational programs, and establishing a clear pathway for leadership development within the club. I have also helped the wider committee in organisational tasks within their role such as educational sessions and contests. I have introduced an induction program to help new members get to grips with basecamp, easyspeak etc. This has been used in club and area level. I have also oraganised area level educational sessions including a table topics bootcamp with Andrew Bennett DTM.

As an Area Director, strategic planning was crucial overseeing clubs through the area success plan. I collaborated with club leaders to align their goals with the broader vision for the area. This involved identifying opportunities for collaboration, allocating resources effectively, and developing plans to address common challenges faced by the clubs.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

In the realm of finance, I’ve effectively operated my own business for the past two years. This involved crafting budgets, overseeing their management, and handling various aspects of new business accounting. As the president of Cardiff Toastmasters, I’ve steered the club to success, maintaining a robust bank balance and collaborating with the treasurer to ensure timely payments. Additionally, in my role as Area Director, I’ve adhered to the budget for the current year, strategically allocating funds to support each club within my area. I feel this experience will directly help me with budgeting at division level.

What experience do you have in developing procedures?

I possess significant experience in developing procedures within various leadership roles. In my capacity as a business owner, I played a pivotal role in establishing and refining operational procedures to streamline business processes. This involved creating guidelines for financial management, engaging and motivating staff, and customer interactions to ensure consistency and efficiency.

As the president of Toastmasters, I actively contributed to the development of procedures for club activities, meetings, and member engagement. I facilitated the establishment of structured communication channels, event and success planning, and feedback mechanisms, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the club.

In my role as an Area Director, I played a key part in developing procedures related to club support, budget management, and area/division communication. This included establishing clear communication channels between clubs and the wider leadership team.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

From my past leadership positions, I’ve garnered several invaluable lessons that will undoubtedly contribute to my success in future leadership roles. Running my own business taught me the significance of financial acumen, budgeting, and meticulous accounting — skills that are universally applicable in various leadership contexts.

In my role as Toastmasters president, I learned the art of fostering a thriving and financially sound organization through collaborative efforts with the treasurer. This experience emphasized the

importance of transparent communication, teamwork, and a strategic approach to financial management.

As an Area Director, I honed my skills in strategic budgeting and resource allocation. Staying within budget while effectively supporting each club underscored the need for adaptability, foresight, and the ability to make informed decisions in dynamic environments.

These lessons have equipped me with a well-rounded set of skills, including financial proficiency, effective communication, and strategic thinking, which I am eager to apply in future leadership roles. The experiences have shaped me into a leader capable of navigating challenges, fostering collaboration, and steering the division toward success

Why do you want to serve as a District leader?

I am eager to serve as a District leader within Toastmasters because I believe in the transformative power of effective communication and leadership development. Throughout my journey in Toastmasters, I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact it has on individuals’ personal and professional growth.Moreover, the prospect of working with a diverse group of individuals, learning from their experiences, and collectively steering the Division towards new heights is incredibly appealing to me. I am excited about the prospect of making a positive impact, nurturing a supportive Toastmasters community, and being part of the leadership team that guides members on their journey of continuous improvement.

In essence, my desire to serve as a District leader stems from a genuine commitment to the Toastmasters mission, a passion for personal development, and a belief in the strength of collaborative leadership to inspire positive change within our Toastmasters community.

In your opinion, what are the District mission’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?

My aspiration is to facilitate the sharing of best practices, offer support to clubs and members, and contribute to the overall success of the District. I am committed to ensuring that every member has access to resources, mentorship, and educational opportunities that empower them to achieve their goals within Toastmasters. In conjunction with this, I would like to create new clubs, inline witht the district mission. I would also like to provide a safe, comfortable environment for those non-engaging clubs to thrive within the division. Furthermore, I would like to encourage the DLT to have more involvement in club and area level to attract potential new toastmaster leaders of the future

Additional information about yourself:

I have hands-on experience working with individuals from challenging backgrounds in the prison, care and mental health sectors. Many clients have low self-confidence I feel my laid-back approachable personality makes them feel comfortable and more likely to take on new activities and tasks. This person-centered approach I feel puts me in good stead for the division directors role as I see the clubs as a learning environment for its members to strive and not just a spreadsheet of figures and goals. I have also made steps to create a new online club in the J10 area, South Wales Speakers Online, in which we are in the process of setting up a demo meeting. This has further tested my planning and organisation skills in a role I knew little about however working as a team on the project has helped amensely. I am currently doing a part-time degree with Open University which has taught my organisational skills, planning and computer skills.

Last Updated on 6th April 2024 by Diane Richardson