Faces & Places

The Public Relations Team is spotlighting different members throughout District 31 titled “Faces & Places”. We want to help connect members throughout our district so everyone can have a chance to learn and network with each other, and get more exposure for your club.


Jay Karthik

On April 1, District 31 was invited to showcase the value of Toastmasters at the annual fair of the National Federation of the Blind in Boston. This event was one of the first in-person exhibitions the organization has hosted since the pandemic. There were ten exhibitors in all, showcasing various accessible solutions and tools. This opportunity to participate in the fair came about through the partnership of Division H Director Jesse Welty, DTM and the President of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Federation of Blind, Shara Winton.

Toastmasters Jay Karthik of the Watertown Saturday Toastmasters and Daryl Dauphin of the New Life Toastmasters managed the Toastmasters table, highlighting the benefits of Toastmasters while answering any questions that the guests had. Several guests had not heard about Toastmasters and were interested in learning more. The flyer handed out connected the guests to the accessible page “Toastmasters for Everyone” created by Division H Director Jesse Welty, DTM.

When asked if Jay ever thought he would be doing an event like this, he stated “Prior to joining Toastmasters, I definitely would not have signed up to do some of the things I do now. Both at work and socially.”  Before joining Toastmasters, Jay wasn’t assertive enough and felt like he was not articulating his ideas clearly and effectively. When Jay joined Toastmasters in 2012, he was desperately trying to find ways to boost his self-confidence and hide his inhibitions, therefore he decided to join Toastmasters.

Jay received his CC award in a few years and took a break when he moved back to MA from NJ. Jay currently belongs to two clubs: Watertown Saturday Toastmasters & Tragicomedy. Jay won 2 Triple Crown awards in 2019 and 2020. Jay is hopeful he will qualify for the Pathfinder award this year. Jay is working on two Paths within Pathways which are Engaging Humor and Leadership Development.

Jay’s home club used to meet on Saturday mornings at a Church in Watertown. The club is currently meeting online and exploring options to host hybrid meetings. The club members had a great outdoor meeting at an amphitheater in Watertown last summer and are looking at scheduling more such meetings this year. The energy and vibe were fantastic, and they played some improv games that could only be facilitated in person.

Jay has held all major roles except VP-Membership and Treasurer. Of all the club officer roles Jay has held, he loves VP-Public Relations the best. He felt there were fewer protocols to follow and more freedom to run as many open houses as possible, special meetings and advertising wherever I could get my hands on.

Jay’s favorite roles at a meeting are Toastmasters and Table-Topics Master. Jay saw himself improve drastically with responses to table-topics questions. Jay noticed he doesn’t ramble on and on anymore, trying to have the perfect landing, which doesn’t happen most of the time.

Jay has learned two important aspects: active listening and being spontaneous. As well as learning to offer feedback in a diplomatic fashion and engaging the audience. Jay has asked himself why he’s such a fan of Toastmasters and why he continues to be a member. Jay stated the answer is simple. “I see the need to keep the saw sharpened, as Stephen Covey mentions in his bestseller, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I tend to feel rusty when I have not gotten my monthly dose of Toastmasters. I also find Toastmasters to be an avenue for me to be creative and working on engaging humor that can lift other members up.”


Christy Meng

In 2018, Christy Meng was looking to improve her public speaking skill and decided to join Toastmasters. Christy’s life before joining Toastmasters was quieted and muted through joining Toastmasters Christy was able to learn how to speak up and let her voice be heard.  Belonging to Toastmasters helped Christy build her confidence of speaking up publicly.

Christy belongs to two clubs which are Toast of the Town and Advanced Articulators of Andover. Currently, these clubs are meeting virtually. Christy is working on three different Pathways: Dynamic Leadership, Persuasive Influence and Visionary Communications. Throughout Christy’s Toastmasters journey she has taken the club coach role. As a club coach Christy was able to help a declining club thrive again. One of Christy’s accomplishments is coming in 3rd place in the District’s International Speech Contest in 2020. Christy also earned District 31’s Triple Crown Award twice.

The recently spiked Asian Hate Crime awakened Christy that speaking up and unmuting the so-called Model Minority is much needed and often language is the biggest obstacle. As a bonus, while gathering interest, Christy realized there are people who want to sharpen their mandarin skills on the other hand. Christy hopes this club can benefit people with Toastmaster principles in general while improving their bilingual skills. Christy hosted the English-Mandarin Bilingual club demo meeting on February 15th that had a great attendance. They also received overwhelming positive feedback through a post-demo survey. The mission of this new virtual English-Mandarin Bilingual club is to help both English speakers improve Mandarin and Mandarin speakers improve English to communicate effectively in both languages. Do you speak or are you learning Mandarin? Help charter the first bilingual club of District 31! If you speak both languages or know people who do, share your interest, and help us spread the word by sharing the email: mandarin@district31.org.


Dr. Sherri Raftery, DTM, PDG

Dr. Sherri Raftery, DTM joined Toastmasters in 2005 after seeing an ad on TV. “I was watching my local cable station – and saw an ad ‘Would you like to conquer your fear of Public Speaking’… I called Marlene Westerman, Vice President of Membership, originally thinking this would help my performance skills surprisingly my leadership skills emerged.”

Since joining Sherri has held every club officer role, she’s currently the VP of Education for Metrowest Toastmasters Club.  She also enjoys presenting at Club Officer Trainings, perhaps we’ll be able to have Sherri present at a future TLI.

Sherri has earned 4 DTMS, 2007 Area Governor of the Year, 2007-2008 Excellence in Marketing, 2008-2009 Excellence in Education & Training, 2009-2010 Distinguished District Governor with the theme “Take Center Stage”, 2009-2010 Excellence in Leadership and in 2016 Toastmaster of the Year.

Fun Fact: “When I served as the 2008-2009 Lt Gov of Ed & Training, I started the TRIPLE CROWN Award for D31 and am pleased to see it continues now as a Pathways Award.”

According to Sherri, her “life has improved since joining Toastmasters. I am a professor, teach public speaking and communication courses at North Shore Community College and Fisher Colleges.” Most recently Sherri completed her doctorate in Education Leadership in Higher Education Ed.D.

“I wanted to thank fellow Toastmasters for allowing me to come to your clubs and practice my dissertation defense “Foster Youth Mentorship Programs in Higher Education” – I appreciated the feedback and support from members. I was also honored to have TMs attend my Dissertation Defense on Monday November 29, 2021, on ZOOM. My hope is to increase foster youth’s access, retention, graduation rates in college, instead of them becoming incarcerated.”

Sherri is a resident of East Boston, lives near the Tall Ship (with an oyster bar) which features three custom mahogany bars, built around the grand mast surrounded by the city skyline and Boston harbor.

It’s clear that Sherri has accomplished a lot and has so much to offer our current and future Toasties. Thank you, Sherri, for all you’ve done in support of District 31 and for starting the Triple Crown Award (now the Pathfinder Award).

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