Nikita Parks – Candidate for Division Director
Why are you running for this District Leadership Role? Why now?
When I joined Toastmasters to recover and develop my confidence and public speaking skills during my divorce, I did not anticipate that I would also develop leadership skills. These are precious and integral to becoming the best person I can be following my extraordinarily challenging life and eventual gender transition. I feel deeply grateful to and passionate about Toastmasters where I have received almost total acceptance in stark contrast to the adversity I experienced at work and from close relatives. That’s why I am determined to serve to the best of my ability.
I am volunteering for Division Director as progression from Area Director and Club President. I wish to keep on stretching and developing my leadership skills by taking on new challenges. I am highly motivated and enthusiastic, so it does not make sense to take a break. I also want my skills and experience in Toastmasters to be relevant to and be trusted by other District Leaders by the time district realignment occurs, to be of service when needed.
What is your vision for the role?
My vision as Division Director is to cultivate a sense of community within my division through delivering valuable activities. Toastmasters has a great deal to offer, yet due to the introspective nature of many clubs, there is a perceived ceiling on personal development which is misconceived. Through fostering inter-club mentoring, I want members to look beyond their clubs by default in future, to embrace all that Toastmasters can offer and to take the initiative to make things happen. Leadership skills come from committed active leading, not from mere attendance.
How will you go about achieving this vision?
To achieve this vision, I need to provide members of clubs with useful and relevant leadership and speaking experiences at club, area, division and district level. It’s not enough to entice a small minority of members to a remote district conference. I have already started at club level by seeking to replicate London’s successful general evaluator and speaker exchange in the west of our district. My vision would need to be shared and articulated by my Area Directors consistently in all their engagements with their clubs and delivered by organising and holding events. Toastmasters needs to think globally but act locally.
How do you plan to achieve Distinguished status?
Besides using tools like Moments of Truth, the Success Plans and Area Director visits, I will achieve distinguished division status through my vision. Cultivating community will improve membership retention because members will recognise that there is tangibly more on offer to them than the regular routine of their club meetings. Establishing, chartering and nurturing new clubs with effective mentoring and coaching provides continuous leadership development opportunities for those who embrace them.
What is the greatest challenge you may face as District Leader?
The greatest challenge I would expect to face as Division Director is inertia, that tired members remain in leadership positions within clubs and don’t identify and nurture their successors. In my present role as Area Director I am implementing a cross-club mentoring programme to provide mutual support and encouragement and to overcome inertia and foster creativity. My Area Directors will be on the front line confronting this inertia and my role is to support them and ensure that their motivation does not falter by recognising the nature of their leadership challenge and remaining persistent and determined throughout their term.
How will you work with others to achieve success?
Success in my role as Division Director would be dependent on working effectively with others and leading them to deliver my vision for our Division. I recognise that my allies are not only my Area Directors, but also our District Director, Club Growth Director, Programme Quality Director and fellow Division Directors. Leadership is not an individual activity, it is a team sport. I would be as open to the ideas and suggestions of others as determined to deliver my vision. I would engage effectively with our district leadership trio to help them achieve their goals. Collectively, we need to identify recurring themes across our clubs, nurture strengths and confront weaknesses. I will help change attitudes, so club visit reports become recognised as valuable actionable intelligence.
I hope my enthusiasm is infectious and that you will share my vision for Division J Director. Please vote for me in person or using your proxy vote on 4th May in Ashford.