Fran Okeson of Staten Island, New York Achieves Toastmasters Top Level 15 Times

Toastmasters International recently announced that Fran Okeson has achieved the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster for the 15th time.
By: Anna Banks, Public Relations Officer, District 83
Fran Okeson, DTM   Staten Island NY
Fran Okeson, DTM Staten Island NY
Oct. 23, 2011 - PRLog -- Toastmasters International recently announced that Fran Okeson has achieved the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster for the 15th time.  Okeson, a resident of Staten Island, NY is one of a small cadre of dedicated Toastmasters members who have achieved multiple DTM designations.   Fewer than 12,000 of Toastmaster's 4 million past and present members have achieved the elite DTM status.

“Toastmasters is a safe environment where members can achieve specified goals as set forth by the Organization with the mentorship of the other members of the club,” said Fran Okeson.  “People join for many reasons (job advancement, meeting new people, learning new skills, and challenging themselves to stretch their minds.) There is a camaraderie and support mechanism that is hard to find in other organizations.”

“Becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster is the highest achievement in public speaking,” said Lisa Pantano, Toastmasters District 83 Governor for metropolitan New Jersey, Staten Island, and Rockland County. “It requires mastery of both communications and leadership skills.”

In order to achieve Distinguished Toastmaster status, a Toastmasters member must present more than 40 speeches evaluated by other members and perform several different types of leadership positions.  Fran Okeson’s leadership roles included:

•   Served as a club Officer in all six clubs in Area 13
•   Chairs the semi-annual club officer trainings
•   Served as Area Governor nine times, including this year (Districts 46 and 83)
•   Served as Division Governor one time (District 46)
•   Served as the District 46 CTM (Competent Toastmaster) Mentor
•   Serves as the District 83 “High Performance Leadership” Advisor
•   Serves as the District 83 CC (Competent Communicator) Coordinator
•   Served as the District 46 Public Relations Officer (before District 46 split into two smaller Districts)
•   Served as the District 46 Newsletter Editor
•   Served twice as the District 46 Secretary
•   Served as the District 46 Lt. Governor Education & Training
•   Served as the District 46 Governor (2001-2002)
•   Served in several District 46 & 83 conference roles, including: Speech Contest Chief Judge, Education Chair, Toastmasters Information Chair, and “Fun Night” Chair
•   Presented Workshops at several District 46 and Region 7 Conferences
•   Served as an Official Judge and/or Timer at District 46 and Region 7 Conferences
•   Chair of the No Limits Toastmasters “Speaker’s Bureau”
•   Producer and Host of the No Limits Club's "Toastmasters in the Community", a public access cable TV Show
•   Chartered thirty-six new clubs in District 46 & 83, including the first Toastmasters club in Nigeria
•   Sponsored more than 800 (eight hundred) new Toastmasters, including (13) thirteen this year

Anna D. Banks, Public Relations Officer for Toastmasters District 83 asked Fran, “What is the value you receive for achieving DTM so many times?”

“Toastmasters has many challenges.  I like challenges,” said Okeson.  “I have found over the years that when I set my mind to do something, I have to form a plan.  No one can become a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) without the support of other people. This is the way the goals are laid out by the Organization.  I happen to be a very active Toastmaster and I believe in the program.  Deadlines must be met, goals must be achieved.  There’s an old saying that you get to Carnegie Hall with practice, practice, practice.  To earn a DTM, I feel you have to Plan, Plan, and Plan!   Set your sights on the DTM medallion and keep a list of everything you do to reach that goal.  Then enlist your friends so they can join you as you all reach the top together. “

Toastmasters International President, Michael Notaro DTM and District 83 Governor, Lisa Pantano DTM presented Fran Okeson with a special DTM Medallion to recognize the achievement.  Fran Okeson joined Toastmasters in October 1988 and belongs to the six clubs in Area 13 on Staten Island, New York.

Mrs. Okeson has served in every club officer position during her tenure in the Toastmasters organization.  This DTM was given to the Smedley’s Speakers Advanced club of which she is the founding president.  The club meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 7PM in the main conference room at the south site of Staten Island University Hospital (375 Seguine Avenue, Prince’s Bay.)   Ken Raftery, DTM is the club’s VP Membership.

About District 83

District 83 includes 150 clubs in Metropolitan New Jersey, Staten Island, NY, and Rockland County, New York. For more information, please visit the District 83 website at

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About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit
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