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Toastmasters International (TI) is a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. Through its thousands of member clubs, Toastmasters International offers a program of communication and leadership projects designed to help men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening, and thinking.
The organization grew out of a single club, Smedley Club Number 1, which would become the first Toastmasters club. It was founded by Ralph C. Smedley on October 22, 1924, at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, United States. Toastmasters International was incorporated under California law on December 19, 1932. Throughout its history, Toastmasters has served over four million people, and today the organization serves over 230,000 members in 92 countries, through its over 11,500 member clubs.Its Executive Director from 1975 through 2004 was Terrence McCann, Olympic Gold Medal Wrestler. Educational Program A Toastmasters club adopts a "learn-by-doing" philosophy, wherein each member learns at a pace suitable to his or her developmental needs. The Toastmasters program is divided into two separate tracks, Communication and Leadership, with members progressing along each track by presenting speeches and taking on roles within their club, district, and Toastmasters International itself. Toastmasters has grown from being an English-only organization to one that develops communication skills in several languages. There are now clubs in many languages, including Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Tamil, among others. The basic manual (the Competent Communication manual described below) can be purchased in Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, German, Japanese and Spanish as well as in English. Distinguished Toastmaster Toastmasters awards a special title, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), to members who have achieved both the Advanced Communication Gold and Advanced Leader Silver awards. This is Toastmasters' highest award. Some dedicated Toastmasters members have achieved multiple DTM designations. Members who have earned their DTM are usually honored and presented with a medal at a district or regional conference following their achievement. The DTM or Distinguished Toastmaster title is not necessarily the end of the journey for most Toastmasters. Many Toastmasters will reenter the program and repeat it at least once more. Every iteration through the program affords the individual additional experience in either the chosen direction or a totally new direction at their discretion.