We welcomed in our new leadership team for 2017-2018 last week! Congratulations to:
President – Andrea Regan
VP of Ed – Thaddeus Gray
VP of Membership – John Schultz
VP of PR – Craig Karvala
Treasurer – Arun Menon
Secretary – Larry Josephson
Sergeant at Arms – Amanda Gray
And to the past leadership team – thank you for your service!
Our next meeting is July 5th- come on out and join us! We would love to see you.


Read all about our November news in our Newletter below.

newsletter-dec-page0001October has been a blur! Read all about our news in the November Newsletter below.


We had an exciting month of September 2016! Read all about it in our October Newsletter.




On September 15, 2016, past and current toastmasters celebrated Thad Gray, the founder of Lincoln-Way Toastmasters, for helping and encouraging so many other people to be their best and grow and learn in their communication and leadership skills. There were two fantastic speeches from two award winning toastmasters. All alumni took the opportunity to speak during Table Topics about how Thad had inspired them.

We’ve had a fantastic August with our contest winners and Icebreaker speech! Read and enjoy our September issue of our newsletter.

Newsletter - Sept.

We had a fantastic September 1st, 2016, meeting – with three fantastic speeches! We also had two new members sign up. Congratulations to Mark Avignone for reaching his goal of completing his CC manual! This is a big accomplishment. Also, congratulations to Chris Boyk for receiving Best Table Topics Speaker for the evening. Come on out to our September 15th meeting where we will be celebrating our Alumni Night! Everyone is welcome.


Great job by all our L-W contestants at the Area Contest on August 27th! Here were the places:

Area 60 Results:

Tall Tales:
1st Place: Michael Scampini
3rd Place: Craig Karvala

2nd Place: Michael Scampini

Area 61 Results:
Tall Tales:
1st Place: Garrett Gray


It was a funny and tall tale night Thursday, August 18, 2016! Congratulations to the Humorous contest tied 1st place winners – Michael Scampini and Scott McMillan! AND to the Tall Tales contest winners – Garrett Gray, Michael Stamping and Craig Karvala who placed in this respective order. Come out August 27th and watch them compete at the next level in the Area contest at New Life Church in New Lenox.


We’ve had an amazing July welcoming in three new members and seeing two fantastic icebreakers! Enjoy our August newsletter.

Newletter-TM-AugHappy 4th of July!  Enjoy our July Newsletter.

file-page1It’s been an eventful weekend for Lincoln-Way Toastmasters. Congratulations to Laurie Rusnak for getting 2nd place in the International Contest at the Division level and Renee’ Perry for getting 2nd place in the Evaluation contest! Michael Scampini won 1st place in the Evaluation contest for New Lenox Toastmasters and Mike Mecozzi won 1st place also for New Lenox Toastmasters! I guess if Lincoln-Way had to lose to a club, New Lenox would be the best one to lose to. Jobs well done by all!



Another successful round of contests for Lincoln-Way Toastmasters on March 5, 2016! Winning 1st place in the International Contest for Area is Laurie Rusnak and winning 1st place for the Evaluations Contest is Renee’ Perry. Michael Scampini placed 1st in the Evaluations Contest and 2nd place in the International Contest for Area 61. A fantastic job done by all!

Come out and support these members on April 9th in Watseka at the beautiful Watseka Theater for the District contest.


Renee' Perry & Laurie Rusnak
Renee’ Perry & Laurie Rusnak
Michael Scampini

Speaking in front of a group is a common fear. Have you ever felt extremely self-conscious, or so tongue tied that your ability to communicate with others is ineffective and sometimes embarrassing. No need to fear! You can improve your speaking skills with Toastmasters.

Toastmasters is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to help members overcome the fear of public speaking. In the process of becoming a better speaker, the individual also develops leadership skills.

Three years ago, Garrett Gray, a Professional Engineer joined Toastmasters to improve his communication skills.  Garrett admits “Engineers and polished speaking skills typically don’t mix! An Engineer’s language of choice is numbers.  Social skills, such as speaking with people, can need major improvement.” Garrett realized that being an ineffective communicator is bad for business.  Garrett says “It is eye opening when a client cannot understand engineering recommendations.  I realized the best way to effectively communicate my recommendations is to use universal language that all can understand.”

Once Garrett joined Toastmasters, his transformation from typical engineer to polished speaker began.  He certainly proved that this past month. Garrett entered three Toastmasters’ contests. He finished 1st place in two of them and 2nd place in the other.

Garrett finished 1st in District 30’s (Chicagoland) Evaluation Contest. In this competition, the contestants have to evaluate another speaker’s speech. As an evaluator, one becomes a speech coach. One has to listen to the speech, observe what the speaker did well and where the speaker could improve. Then, in five minutes time, the evaluator must put together and deliver his own speech which is a critique of the original speaker’s speech. In the evaluation, one must be tactful, yet insightful of the original speaker’s strong and weak areas.

Garrett also finished 1st place in District 54 (Northern Illinois excluding Chicagoland) Humorous Speech Contest. In this competition, the contestant must give a speech which has a meaningful point, but contains a lot of clean humor. Knowing how to get an audience to laugh is a very important attribute to being a polished speaker.

Garrett finished runner-up in District 54 Table Topics Contest. In this competition, the contestant is posed a challenging question which he/she must answer immediately. The speaker must be able “to think on his/her feet” and speak extemporaneously. In two minutes time, the speaker must state a position and elaborate on his/her position. In the course of doing this, humor and wit are quite helpful.


Of his accomplishments, Garrett says “The key is in the journey not the destination.  I like to compete. But win, lose, or draw, it’s the speaking skills I’ve developed through Toastmasters that will always stay with me.”


What’s Garrett’s next challenge? Toastmasters International Speech Contest begins late winter and to August 2016. Toastmasters from all over the world enter these contests. In this competition, the contestant has to give a 5 to 7 minute speech on any subject. Most speeches are inspirational/motivational. The eventual winner of this competition is deemed the ‘Best Speaker in the World.’  Entering any competitions mentioned in this article is totally voluntary.  But don’t be surprised if Garrett will be at it again.


Garrett is a member of four Toastmasters’ clubs. The two local clubs are Lincoln-Way and New Lenox Toastmasters. Garrett says “Anybody can be a better speaker. If you want to be a better, more polished speaker, my advice: Join a Toastmasters.  Work Toastmasters time tested program. Practice those skills. You will get the tools to be that better speaker with guidance from experienced mentors who were once just like you. You can improve your speaking skills with Toastmasters!”


To find out more about Toastmasters, please go to the provided link: http://lincolnwaytoastmasters.com or call Thad Gray at 708-769-7506.

Toastmasters meetings are free and open to the public. Guests are always welcomed. If a person decides to join Toastmasters, there is a nominal cost for training materials and membership fees. Toastmasters is a non-profit organization and has been in existence for over 90 years. Toastmasters has helped millions of people to become polished speakers and capable leaders.


Article submitted by Thad Gray, Lincoln-Way & New Lenox Toastmasters

Garrett Gray 1st Eval District 30


We had so much fun at December 3, 2015, meeting – plus, so much speaking growth. Andrea Regan completed her ice breaker and did a fantastic job of telling us about herself and Leo, a member to be, was our table topic best speaker of the night – Tom Belka was our table topic best speaker for our last meeting. Job well done by all our members!


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Fabulous job by Garrett Gray on November 13 and 14, 2015, for the Division F Contests. He was 2nd place in Table Topics Contest and 1st place in Humorous Contest! It was not only a fun evening, but it was exciting to see Garrett do such a fine job of speaking.

Garrett Gray - 1st place
Garrett Gray – 1st place


Congratulations to Garrett Gray for receiving 1st place in the Evaluations Contest for District 30 on November 7th. You can see Garrett on November 13 and 14 for the Division F Contest for both the Humorous Contest and the Table Topics Contest at the Marriott Hotel in Normal, Illinois. See the link below for the schedule – non-toastmaster members are also welcome:


Garrett Gray 1st Eval District 30

Lincoln-Way Toastmasters hit a grand slam Saturday, October 3rd, at the Area Contests in Plainfield! Garrett Gray and Renee’ Perry won 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Humorous Contest. Garrett Gray and Tom Belka won 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Table Topics Contest. Chris Boyk, one of our members, was a contestant for a different club and won 1st place in the Humorous Contest and 3rd place in the Table Topics contest in a different area. All areas will come together for the Division Contest on October 24th at New Life Church at 500 Gougar Road in New Lenox, Illinois. Come on out and support your toastmaster members and also enjoy a lot of laughs! You can’t get better entertainment anywhere else. Bring your family.




Our Table Topics Best Speaker of the night on October 1st was Andrea Regan. Andrea has only been a Toastmaster for a few weeks. Coming in a close 2nd was Mark Avignone. Job well done.




Another fun Humorous Contest was held on Thursday, October 1st. We had four speakers compete – which has to be some kind of record. Our four speakers were Michael Scampini, Garrett Gray, Renee’ Perry and Chris Boyk. Moving on to the Area Contest on Saturday will be the 1st and 2nd place winners, respectively, Renee’ Perry and Garrett Gray. All speakers did a fantastic job!




Congratulations to our Table Topics contest winners these last three meetings… Thaddeus Gray won last Thursday’s contest with a very thoughtful, deep question by Garrett Gray. The winner before last meeting was Michael Scampini and the winner before that meeting was Chris Boyk!



Job well done Lincoln-Way Toastmasters!

Our table topics contest is September 17, 2015 – hope to see many of you competing.


Quinton James and Mark Avignone
Quinton James and Mark Avignone
Jim Katula and Renee' Perry
Jim Katula and Renee’ Perry

It was an exciting Toastmaster meeting February 19th. A BIG congratulations to our contest winners who will be heading to the Area Contest on March 14th. For the Evaluation contest, Mark Avignone received 1st place and Quinton James received 2nd place. For the International contest, Renee’ Perry received 1st place and Jim Katula received 2nd place. We heard some spot-on evaluations and inspirational speeches. Another thank you to all who came out to support the contestants on one of the coldest days of the year.

Thaddeus Gray, Founder of Lincoln-Way Toastmasters
Thaddeus Gray, Founder of Lincoln-Way Toastmasters

In the past, I have written articles about Toastmaster members that have received a trophy or plaque in their advancement of their communication and leadership skills. In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to write about someone who gives without asking “what’s in it for me”. So this time this article is being written about a Toastmaster who hasn’t received any trophies or plaques recently and deserves recognition for his dedication, commitment and constant support in helping others by making a difference in their lives and giving them the foundation for effective communication and leadership skills. He is the founder of Lincoln-Way Toastmasters and Frankfort resident, Thaddeus Gray.

Thad founded Lincoln-Way Toastmasters in September of 2001.  He receives no monetary compensation, but obviously this group compensates him in other ways since I have not known him to skip one meeting. What really impresses me is Thad’s ability to encourage through slight nudges and pushes, encouraging you to reach a potential that you dream of but that he sees possible. Because of Thad there are many more competent communicators and leaders walking around. He has paved the way for Toastmaster members to grow and accomplish more than they thought possible.


Hayward Suggs
Hayward Suggs

Hayward Suggs, a Frankfort resident and member of Lincoln-Way Toastmasters, was awarded with Toastmaster of the Year for Area 60 recently. This award recognizes one toastmaster member whose educational accomplishments, club service, dedication and enthusiasm are exceptional; and Hayward exemplifies all four of these criteria. Andrew Weissmann, VP Education for Logistically Speaking Toastmaster Bolingbrook stated “I look for someone who is committed, approachable and who is working towards a goal which personifies Hayward”.

Garrett Gray and his wife, Mandy, at the District 30 Conference Contests.
Garrett Gray and his wife, Mandy, at the District 30 Conference Contests.

Garrett Gray competed on Saturday, November 15, 2014, in District 30 Fall Conference, Evaluation and Humorous Speech Contests. Garrett finished in 2nd Place in the Evaluation Contest and competed very well in the Humorous Speech Contest. Garrett has had a phenomenal 2014. In April, in District 54, he finished 1st Place in the Evaluation Contest. Last week, in District 54 Tall Tales Contest, he finished 3rd Place. This weekend, in District 30 Fall Contests, he was a finalist in the Humorous Speech Contest and finished 2nd in the Evaluation Contest. The number of contests that he has qualified for to be among the best in a District speaks for itself. We are anxious to see what 2015 will hold for Garrett!


Mike Timmons and Garret Gray both 3rd place finishers at the District 54 Fall Conference
Mike Timmons and Garret Gray both 3rd place finishers at the District 54 Fall Conference

A fantastic job done by Mike Timmons and Garrett Gray at the District 54 Fall Conferences on November 7th and 8th, 2014. Both received 3rd place overall for the Humorous Contest and Tall Tales Contest respectively.


Pictured left to right Jim Katula, (3rd Place, Humorous Speech), Mike Timmons (1st Place, Humorous Speech) and Garrett Gray (1st Place, Tall Tales).
Pictured left to right Jim Katula, (3rd Place, Humorous Speech), Mike Timmons (1st Place, Humorous Speech) and Garrett Gray (1st Place, Tall Tales).

A funny and exciting Division contest was held on October 18th. Congratulations to all three, they represented themselves and our club superbly. Mike Timmons and Garrett Gray will advance to District 54 Championships on Nov. 7th and 8th.Come out to the Holiday Inn in Bolingbrook Nov. 7th and 8th to watch them compete.




District 2014 contest


Another fun afternoon was experienced on September 18th, 2014, as Garrett Gray took home first place for the Humorous Speech contest, Jim Katula took second place for the Tall Tales Speech contest and Mike Timmons took first place for Area 61 Humorous Speech contest. The next round of contests will be on October 18th at R.R. Donnelly in Bolingbrook, Illinois, at 12 p.m. We would love to see you cheering on our fellow toastmasters and having laughs in the process!



Contestants-Jim-Garrett-Steve 09-18-2014



On Thursday, September 18,2014, the air was filled with laughter as we conducted our Humorous Speech and Tall Tales contests. Three of our members will represent Lincoln-Way Toastmasters at the upcoming District 54, Area 60 Tall Tales and Humorous Speech Contests: Jim Katula (Humorous Speech), Garrett Gray (Tall Tales) and Steve Sierra (Tall Tales).

Plan on coming out to cheer on our fellow members at the Area 60 Contest this coming Saturday, September 27, at 12 Noon, The contest will be conducted at Caterpillar Inc, 2200 Channahon Road (Route 6), Joliet, IL 60436.

Directions from Lincoln-Way Area:

  • Take I-80  West
  • Exit at Larkin Ave. (exit #130)
  • Turn South off ramp onto Larkin Ave
  • Continue South to stoplight at Route 6
  • Turn right to the next stoplight where you will make a left turn
  • This is the main entrance to the plant

There is a visitor parking lot beside the flagpole at front of building.