Summer 2020 TLI: Coming Together Virtually, Working Together in Reality!

By Lisa Fairchild

District 57 Summer 2020 TLIs are now behind us! 590 of our club leaders (61.5% of our club leaders) participated in a first: a Virtual Toastmaster Leadership Institute.

All TLIs require a team of volunteers to make it happen and deliver training to those who have stepped up to being officers in their clubs. The two Summer 2020 TLIs were no exception…except that they happened in 2020. As we all know and live daily, it is anything but business as usual.  This year has taught and continues to teach us to expect the unexpected. It has forced us to do things differently, take on challenges valiantly and to grow in these opportunities, however unconventional and uncomfortable they may be. They’ve shown us how resilient we can be.

As the District 57 TLI Dean, I had a front row seat to witness Toastmasters, the organization and Toastmasters, the members, doing one of the things I believe makes us the best deal in town. We individually and collectively have goals. We walk through the unknown, are willing to make mistakes and be imperfect in service of being better—better speakers, leaders, and communicators.

I applaud the 590 club officers who attended the two virtual TLIs on July 18 and August 15. While you didn’t have to drive to an event, you did have to navigate in and out of four zoom sessions and sit in front of a monitor for 5 hours. Not an easy ask, but one that is in service of your club.

I am grateful to the team of 60+ dedicated Toastmasters who worked behind the scenes to make it happen. It takes a village and what an incredible group of villagers they were! We had 15 Officer Trainers, 5 Extended Learning Trainers with a team of 8 who added depth to the programs as panel members. These folks put together training materials and created content that allow club officers to lead and be successful in the challenges unique to this time.

Supporting the training team were 11 Tech Hosts, 6 Co-Hosts and 9 Room Monitors that worked the back end of the zoom room.  The ‘tech team’ attended hours of training, practice sessions and coordinated with the trainers so that those on the other side of the monitor could have the best possible ‘member experience’.

For the first time ever, the 9 Division Directors and their Area Directors met with their club officers to share ideas and to make themselves available as a resource and support to the clubs they serve.

And finally, the TLI Core team, the brains that created the vision, tweaked processes over and over, and met for countless hours to pull off the virtual TLIs:  George Marshall, District 57’s Program Quality Director (and my boss for the year), the Tech Team of David Dai, Wing Lok and Pauline Russell; Ed Cullen heading communications; Dennis Dawson the Education and Curriculum chair and Bill Holsey who stepped in to help us out for August.

What a learning experience, both personally and professionally! It was an absolute honor to work with this team, all 60+ of them. Each came with their unique gifts and talents and collectively joined forces, working as teams and sub-teams to pull off an extraordinary event. I saw and experienced in action what I believe will get us through the challenges of 2020: collaboration and a generosity of spirit that acknowledges and behaves in a collective voice that says “we’re in this together”.

Guess what…we get to do it all over again in the Winter! It will again take a village of problem solvers, creative minds and giving spirits. I am officially extending an invitation to anyone who is interested and especially those who want to make TLIs even better: Join me on the Winter TLI Team!

Though we’re months away, we’re planning now. If you’re interested, please contact me at