Annette R. Martinez, Vice President - Human Resources
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Companies
Annette R. Martinez - Keynote Speaker
Annette R. Martinez is Vice President – Human Resources for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Companies. Her role as Vice President includes companywide oversight and administration of Human Resources operations, strategic planning, budgeting, and succession.
She has 30 years of experience with State Farm.
Annette joined State Farm® in 1988 and has served in a variety of leadership positions across the country including Health Underwriting, Life/Health, Human Resources, Fire Underwriting, and Auto Claims. She assumed her current position in 2013.
Annette received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Northern Colorado. She earned the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation in 1995 and the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation in 1996, and her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) in 2010.
Annette currently serves as a liaison on the Corporate Advisory Board for UnidosUS. She serves on the Bloomington-Normal Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) Advisory Council and is also an MCLP instructor. She previously served as chair for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival Society Board of Directors, secretary for OSF St. Joseph Medical Center Board of Directors, member of the Bloomington John M. Scott Commission. She is a Founding member of the Women’s Giving initiative (Women Empowered) for St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington, IL.
Annette became a National Hispana Leadership Fellow in 2002, was a panel member for the 2009 United States Hispanic Leadership Institute conference, and was featured as one of the top five female executives of 2009 by LATINA Style magazine. She was also recognized as one of the 2010 Hispanic Business Magazine’s top 20 Women of Excellence and the 2013 Central Illinois – Top Women in Leadership.
Ellen Hite, CBSC
Inside Your Head Coaching & Consulting, LLC
Ellen Hite - Trainer, President
As a business coach and management consultant, Ellen specializes in thought leadership and conflict resolution. She cultivates awareness through creative neuro-management. Using brain-based success narratives, she assists clients in discovering strategies for sustainable impact. By understanding and leveraging their motivational drivers, clients change business conversations and organizational cultures.
Ellen has a degree in Organizational Leadership, is certified in Brain-based success coaching and Conversational Intelligence through the International Coaches Federation, Benchmark Communications and The Academies, Inc. You can learn more about her at
Ellen is the President of The Greater Decatur Toastmasters in the Decatur, IL surrounding area. She was an insurance executive for 12 years before becoming a coach/consultant in 2010. She is married, has three grown children and 4 grandchildren.
“Believing in people and in what they do is imperative not only as a coach, but simply as a human being.”
Jimmy Kline - Trainer, VP Education
Jimmy joined Toastmasters in March of 2015. He has served in the roles of Sergeant at Arms, Treasurer, and Vice President of Education at State Farm SpeakEasy. He is one speech away from completing his CC and enjoys contests, both participating and assisting with a role.
He graduated from the University of Florida in 2014 and then moved to Bloomington to work in State Farm’s Life/Health Actuarial Department. Besides Toastmasters, he enjoys bowling, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, tennis, and soccer (but only as goalie).
Sally Zuhn - Trainer, VP of Membership
Sally Zuhn joined her first Toastmasters club, Sunrise Speakers, in 1981. She has also been a member of Four Seasons Toastmasters. Currently she is a member of Thursday Noon Talkers and Delightful Greeters. She earned her DTM in 2012. She has served as a VP of Membership 4 times and is currently VP of Membership for Thursday Noon Talkers. She has also served as an Area Governor. On a personal note she just became a grandmother for the first time and plans to introduce her grandson to Toastmasters as soon as he can talk.
Chris Boyk - Trainer, VP of Membership
Christopher Boyk has been in toastmasters since May of 2013. He is currently a Vice President of Membership of three clubs that cumulatively have a total of over thirteen new members this year and hopes to add more everyday. He is a Distinguished Toastmaster, Pathways Guide, Pathways Ambassador and on the social media committee for the district. He is here to help lead a discussion on the role of Vice President of Membership, what works, what does not, how to improve the clubs and make friends with of Vice Present of Memberships throughout the district.
Shannon Tsuyuki - Trainer, VP Public Relations
Shannon Tsuyuki started her Toastmaster’s journey in February of 2017 as a member of Club 2134378, Tech It Easy. She joined Toastmasters with the goal of becoming more comfortable speaking in front of an audience, because through some sort of sick irony she could easily carry a lead role in a musical but had a bad habit of failing to function during presentations. She is currently 2 speeches away from her CC and loving every minute of it. Her CL is a little slower going, but also a source of joy. She was delighted to compete in her club’s Area-level Humorous Speech Contest and honored to receive 2nd place.
In the spirit of Toastmasters, Shannon continues to be a lifelong learner. She graduated from Bradley University’s Electrical Engineering department with a minor in creative writing and has plans for graduate level study in engineering.
Her gratitude for the opportunity to be part of STEM from a young age compels her to pursue volunteering at outreach programs, such as FIRST Robotics. She started as a student in the middle school level, known as Lego League. Now she has had the opportunity to coach her own team and has served as a research project judge for 2 years in a row. This year she’s excited to be involved in the high school level as a mentor for team 1736: Robot Casserole.
Mary Lee Buffo
Mary Lee Buffo - Trainer, Treasurer
Mary Lee Buffo joined Toastmasters in 1991, early during her State Farm® career. She served in a variety of roles as a member of the Windjammers club. She joined the Talk of the South club in 2016 and served as treasurer and currently as Sergeant-At-Arms. She says the following about her Toastmasters experience: "Toastmasters provides me a tremendous opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, learn a new art and practice speaking at work and home." Please welcome Mary Lee Buffo!
Meliss - Trainer, Secretary
Meliss has presented multiple club growth presentations for TLI, and also the roles of Secretary, Vice President Public Relations, and Sergeant at Arms. She currently serves as the Secretary for the DTM Advanced club, and is Immediate Past President of the Riverfront club. She has also served in the roles of Treasurer, and Sergeant At Arms. She has earned her ACB, ALB and is currently working towards her ACS and ALS.
Helen Haynes - Trainer, Secretary
From the moment, she saw the word “Toastmasters” on a tiny sign in a lobby she knew she wanted to be a Toastmaster.
She joined toastmasters in 2011 and realized she had found a group of people that inspire and encourage her, she has surrounded herself with them and it has improved her quality of life.
She is continuously learning by filing roles, reading the manuals, volunteering, attending conferences/contests, asking questions and making friends.
She has held the offices of Vice President Membership, Vice President Public Relations, Club Newsletter Editor/Publisher, and Club President. She currently holds the offices of Secretary and Vice President of Education.
Helens’ goal is to earn her “Distinguished Toastmasters” designation while continuing to grow as a person and a leader in Toastmasters.
Jim Dickson - Trainer, Sergeant-at-Arms
Jim joined Toastmasters in 1982 In Pierre, South Dakota. Jim has held the position of Sergeant at Arms for several clubs in the past. Currently, Jim is Sergeant at Arms for the “DTM Advanced”, and Stephenson Toastmaster clubs. He was the 2016 to 2017 District 54 Logistics Manager (formally the District Sergeant at Arms).
Jim believes that the Sergeant at Arms is responsible for the first impression a guest receives when he/she visits a club for the first time. The Sergeant at Arms must work with the Vice President of Membership and the Vice President of Public Relations to promote the club to all guest.
Bonnie Tippey - Finding the Why
Bonnie has been a member of Toastmasters for almost 18 years. She has served in every club officer role except Sergeant at Arms. In addition, Bonnie has served in numerous roles within District 54. She achieved her Distinguished Toastmaster designation in 2006. She is currently serving as the Division D Director. She is a member of the Strategic Planning committee and a past District Governor. Bonnie is a coach for a Division D club and an active personal coach and mentor. She is committed to helping all Toastmasters become the best they can be not just in Toastmasters but in the world as well.
Bonnie’s favorite quote is by Mahatma Gandhi:
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
She hopes to help you see what changes you want in the world as well as how to make them.
Maryann Reichelt - All about Pathways
Distinguished Toastmaster Maryann Reichelt is the Chief Club Ambassador for District 54. She and her team of Club Ambassadors have been bringing the Pathways message to all the clubs within District 54.
She is enthused about the rollout of Pathways and the enhanced communication and leadership paths it brings to all members.
Jason Heissler - How to find new members to the club
Jason Heissler, DTM, has enjoyed being a Toastmaster for more than two decades. He’s been an active member over this time serving his clubs and the District in many leadership capacities. This year he is staying busy by serving as President of Sunrise Speakers, Immediate Past President of Delightful Greeters Advanced, the District 54 Leadership Path Coordinator and a Pathways Guide.
Jason has seen many members come and go over the years. This turnstile of people is to be expected in Toastmasters…and for that matter, in life. At the Winter 2018 TLI South, Jason will lead a discussion about how to keep an inflow of members going in your club.
Shannon Tobin & Jenny Klosterman - How to write an effective Speech
Shannon Tobin: As a journalist, I enjoyed extraordinary opportunities writing for a plethora of publications, honing my story telling skills. Two years ago I decided to tap into my skillset even further and embarked on my public speaking journey. Toastmasters provides the ideal setting to do just that. I feel empowered strengthening my public speaking skills in a safe, supportive fun environment. Last year I did just that, completing 10 speeches and earning my Competent Communicator designation. I was elected Vice President, Education for Talk of the South in June, and most recently I was voted our club Toastmaster of the Year. This is my second year presenting the Power Point “Enhanced Speech Writing” I wrote for TLI- I love guiding others and helping people learn new skills. Toastmasters rocks!
Jenny Klosterman: I have been a member of Toastmasters since 2013 and joined Toastmasters Talk of the South in 2015. I sincerely appreciate encouragement and honest feedback from fellow members; it helps me grow into a more confident speaker and leader. Years ago, I would have never used the words 'confident speaker and leader' to describe myself. Toastmasters gives me an opportunity to learn, practice, grow, and thrive. As current President of Talk of the South, I encourage every member to step outside their comfort zone. By challenging ourselves we grow as individuals and strengthen our club.
Zayd Jawad - How to evaluate like a Pro
Super-Survivor. Super-positive. Super-caring. Diagnosed to not live past 15 years old.
Zayd believes that the ability to effectively communicate holds the keys to personal and professional success. Going through life with a rare disease, at a fun size of 4’ 11’’, while Zayd rarely dunked in P.E., he has used this belief to speak with a presence far beyond his size. After inspiring thousands on a MovNat Natural Movement Fitness video in 2016, Zayd has served as a Professional Speaker for nearly two years, sharing his story with diverse audiences such as at Parkland College’s Honor’s Convocation, The University of Minnesota's WORLD Rare Disease Treatment Fair, Champaign Central High School, Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and more.
Formerly a Student Leader at Parkland College’s Office of Student Life, Zayd used his passion for communication to pioneer the first ever Positivity in The Workplace Training.
Zayd is an avid member of his Toastmasters Club, The Toast of Champaign, recently being selected as the Vice President of Public Relations and serving as the Pattern Speaker for District 54’s Evaluation Contest.
Zayd holds an Associates in Science from Parkland College, is a Certified Professional Coach by the Fowler International Academy of Professional Coaching and is currently studying Communications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to lay the foundation for a career as a Communications Consultant to empower leaders all around the world.
Jerry Evans - Pushing Beyond Your Leadership Limits! What’s Your Personal Everest?
Jerry Evans is a self-proclaimed “addict” for public speaking. He has an affliction and an affinity to speak as often as he can. It first began more than 9 years ago when he walked into his first Toastmaster meeting already having some background in public speaking. He knew he wanted to get better and become a better speaker/presenter, better leader and Toastmasters could him do it and gain more confidence and competence speaking in front of groups of people. He contracted the “TMV” speaking virus and has been gladly trying to infect other people to “pass it” on to others and spread it to as many people as possible!
He is a passionate and energetic speaker, business owner, entrepreneur, CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) and CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer) of The Awards Company that he started in 2005 after a successful corporate sales management career of 20+ years. He was named Toastmaster of the Year twice (2010& 2011), Area Governor of the year (2011) and earned his Distinguished Toastmaster in 2011. As club extension chair (3 Tours) he helped to start and build more than 80+ clubs. He aspires to inspire and impact people’s lives to empower them to live their best lives. He is most proud of the two black belt degrees he has earned; one in success and the other in failure!
Daniel Fishbein - How to conduct a club speech contest
A member of Toastmasters for 8 years in California and Illinois, Daniel has achieved his ACS and ALB. He is currently the VP of Education for The Greater Decatur Chamber Toastmasters Club and the Area 40 Director. His contest experience includes competing in Club, Area and Division Contest and as a Contest Chair, judge, timer and Contestmaster for Club, Area and Division contest.