Club Secretary’s Role (Officer Blog Series)

*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve..

My name is Salam Alchi, Club Secretary for San Diego Toastmasters 7. I rejoined Toastmasters in 2018 after a 9 year hiatus and immediately became immersed in the process of my growth as a speaker, leader, and most importantly, as an active listener.

After a few short months of membership, I was presented the opportunity to take the Secretary role for SDTM 7. I was nervous and reluctant to take the role, however after the helping hand of the previous secretary, Corinna Koehler, I found the courage to take the role.

The secretary role by nature is a supportive role. For Toastmasters, it allows club officers to communicate effectively and clearly while having faith the contents of discussion are captured. When I do my job of taking notes, updating sheets, welcoming members, and taking executive meeting minutes, the operations of the club can flow with ease. This role in a nutshell, is a functional record keeper which is a gateway teacher “behind the scenes” of our beloved organization. 

After 4 months of serving, I can say I am absolutely glad that I did for these three reasons:

1. Service:
Being one of 6 leaders in the club, it is a privilege and an honor to be of service to such an outstanding organization. 
2. Accountability:
Being a club officer deepened my responsibility to the club. Though attending is not a “requirement,” I no longer have an easy scapegoat to miss a meeting. Outside of the connections I built organically through participation, the leadership makes sure I have the tools necessary to be a positive contribution to the club. 
3. Attention: 
We are here to grow, evolve, learn, and execute those skills in an emotionally safe space. In order to do so, it is important to actively listen while participating in the meeting. Showing up is great, but the benefits are decimated when mentally checked out. In my role I must provide an accurate ledger for participants, guests, and attendees for each meeting. This includes last minute changes and cancellations. I have learned this process warms up my attentive skills to be a more attuned and active listener while participating in the meeting. 

I look forward to fulfilling the term through the end of the year. 🙂 

About Salam Alchi:

Salam was born in Baghdad in 1988 and immigrated to the US in 1993.  His passion in life is to study and understand the nature of our existence, both individually and collectively. When ready, he will apply what he has learned for the betterment of his family, peers, and environment.

“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” – Hermes Trismegistus

Club President’s Role (Officer Blog Series)

This is the first post of the Officer Role Blog series.  Each week, an officer of our club will write about the specifics of their role.  We are starting with the Club President and let me warn you ahead of time that this post will entertain you as it is written by none other than one of our most humorous members!

My name is Shadi Abudayyeh and I’m the Club President of San Diego Toastmaster’s 7 (even though for the past few years being a president has gone a bit out of style).  


You might be wondering what a president in a Toastmaster’s club actually does?  Well, according to the official Toastmaster’s job description:

“The club president is the chief executive officer of this club and is responsible for fulfilling the mission of this club. The president presides at meetings of this club and the club executive committee, appoints all committees, and has general supervision of the operation of this club. The president shall be an ex officio member of all committees of this club except the club nominating committee and shall serve as one of this club’s representatives on the area and district councils. The president shall transmit to this club for its approval or disapproval all ideas and plans proposed by the area and district councils which may affect this club or its individual members; and shall take no action binding upon this club without either specific prior authorization or subsequent ratification by this club.”

So that’s totally clear now, and you know exactly what a club President does, right???  If that above description doesn’t shed much light into what the role actually entails, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  When it first came to my attention that my name had been mentioned as a possible president for the club, I read that above description trying to find out more information and didn’t get any real additional information.  So with that in mind, here are some basic information of what the club president actually does for a Toastmaster’s club:
  • THE PRESIDENT DOES EVERYTHING:  No, this is just a joke, the role of the president actually doesn’t have as much weekly responsibilities as some of the other executive committee roles.  What the president does have to do is a little bit of everything.  If I’m at a meeting and I notice that a member with an assigned role isn’t present, I look for a potential replacement, or I can put myself in the role.  If the agenda or guests’ names needed to be written on the whiteboard and no one else is writing it, well guess who writes it down with their sloppy penmanship?  And if someone has a question about a role, or needs a form, or just needs help with something, the president should be taking it upon themselves to help out wherever they can. Additionally, the president acts as a “Base Camp Manager” for the Pathways Program, and can help access and approve Pathway experiences. 
  • They represent the club outside of meetings:
    The president represents the club in a variety of circumstances, whether it’s receiving an award on behalf of the club, giving awards on behalf of member’s achievements, or receiving more awards on behalf of the club (what can I say, the club does well).  The president is also supposed to vote on the behalf of the club on various referendums, and schedules and chairs the club executive committee meetings.  I hope that paragraph was as exciting for you to read as it was for me to write.
  • They lead the club by example:
    It is the duty of the president to make sure that all the members in the club are happy and are achieving the goals they set for themselves, while realistically balancing the responsibilities for the club.  If there’s something that can be improved on in a meeting, it’s my undertaking to make sure those progressions happen.  If a member (or a guest) has an issue with something that is going on, I need to first listen to the issue, understand it’s significance, and then try to resolve where necessary.  If someone needs help, I reach out and make sure they get the help they need, whether it’s from me or someone else.  Even though talking to new people isn’t my favorite thing to do, I always try to greet and talk to every guest at our meetings.  
When I was first asked to consider being the club president, I wasn’t overly interested in the position, and didn’t understand why I should be selected when we have so many wonderful members of the club. I was told by Sam Hepburn, one of our past club Presidents, that being the president takes a special type of disposition; you have to constantly perform at a high level, understand what the club and its members need, and always help out even when no one is watching.  I’ve tried to take that to heart, and put the interest of our club’s members above my own.  Even though I joined Toastmasters to improve on my speaking, I haven’t given a speech since July of 2018.  I try to attend every meeting I can (even though there’s a few places I’d prefer to be on Thursday evening than on my couch watching football while drinking a beer).  And if after any meeting I don’t personally put away 30 chairs and three tables, I know I’ve been talking too much and not working enough.    
I would highly encourage anyone interested in learning more about the role of the club President (or any of the other executive committee roles) to please talk to me, and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.  I wholeheartedly believe the old adage that our club is only as good as our members and if you would like to be a part of the executive committee, I would highly encourage you to do so! 
Pres SDTM7

About Shadi:
Shadi joined San Diego Toastmasters 7 in August 2015, and ever since then the rest of the club members have been trying to think of ways to get him to leave (unsuccessfully, to their detriment, so far). Shadi served as the President for two terms in 2018 – 2019.
In his occupation as a business analyst, he was recommended from his place of work (some stagecoach company called Wells Fargo) to join Toastmasters because he has a tendency to ramble and isn’t an accomplished speaker.  Both of those points are still true, but now he’s just a bit more loquacious (also to the rest of the club’s detriment).
When Shadi isn’t at Toastmasters he can mostly be found at home with his wonderful girlfriend and silly dog (separate entities of course), at a brewery debating his three favorite “B words” (burritos, baseball, beer) or planning his next vacation (maybe Portugal).  Shadi welcomes and encourages you to come visit San Diego Toastmasters 7 and see how it can help improve your life in ways you didn’t anticipate.