Annual Awards

Visit the Event Calendar for more details about annual awards events

This award is the highest honor District 3 Toastmasters can bestow upon a non-Toastmaster. It recognizes individuals within our communities who have demonstrated outstanding communication & leadership skills. Any member or club in good standing can nominate someone for this award.


This award is to be presented by District 3 Annually.


The recipient must:
  • Not be a Toastmaster
  • Reside within District 3 boundaries
  • Agree, in advance, to attend the award ceremony to receive the award and speak at the awards presentation
  • Have made a significant contribution to the communities within District 3, through his/her communication and leadership skills
  • Not have previously received this award
  • In addition, the Selection Committee should select a recipient whose stature and contributions facilitate the efforts of District 3 to generate publicity in the community for Toastmasters and promote Toastmasters attendance at the Spring Conference


  • Submit nominations now through February 28, 2022.
  • Tell the story in a Who, What, Where,
Questions cheerfully answered, contact at
Nominate here: before March 1st, 2023.

Past Communication and Leadership Award Recipients

Spring 2022Pat Griffen, Executive Director of Against Abuse, Inc.
Spring 2021Debbie Nez-Manuel AZ Democratic National Committee Woman
Spring 2018Jody McPhearson Three C’s Youth Project
Fall 2017Dr. Gerard Van Belle
Fall 2016Jessica Cox
Spring 2015Courtney Klein, Co-Founder & CEO of SEED SPOT
Fall 2014Kristi Tedesco, KVOA News Anchor/Reporter
Spring 2014Sharon Bates, Anthony Bates Foundation
Fall 2013Dr. Ron Barnes
Spring 2013Dr. David Beyda, Medical Director, Medical Mercy
Fall 2012Dr. Lynn Olslen, Educator and Community Organizer and Facilitator
Spring 2012Scott Jacobson, Leadership & Community Developer
Fall 2011Helen Handler, Nazi concentration camp survivor
Spring 2011Rosie Romero, Radio Personality
Fall 2010Jason Schechterle, Phoenix Firefighter and community activist
Spring 2010PJ Dixon, Motivational and Inspirational speaker
Fall 2009Lew Reese, Radio Personality & community servant
Spring 2009Brenda Combs, Educator and community activist
Fall 2008Pat McMahon, Television & Radio personality
Spring 2008Bill Pepicello, PhD, President, University of Phoenix
Spring 2007Betty Fairfax, Educator and Philanthropist
Spring 2006Linda Cobb, “Queen of Clean”
Fall 2005Bob Walkup, Mayor of Tucson and his wife Beth Walkup
Spring 2005Dan Davis – KTVK Channel 3
Spring 2004Jane Robertson – 2004 Arizona Teacher of the Year
Spring 2003Laura Lawless – Miss Arizona 2002
Fall 2001Robert A. Khan – Firefighter & Spokesman
Spring 2001Marshall Trimble – Arizona Historian and Storyteller
Spring 2000Kathleen Mitchell – Community Leader
Spring 1999Jana Bommersbach – News Commentator
Spring 1998Jerry Traylor – Motivator
Spring 1997Dr. Jack Copeland – Heart Transplant Surgeon
Spring 1996Sheriff Joe Arpaio – Maricopa County Sheriff
Spring 1993Kent Dana – News Anchorman
Fall 1992Linda Turley – News Anchor
Spring 1991James H. Click – Chairman of Board, Interwest Bank
Fall 1990Michael Dixon – Radio Talk Show Host
Fall 1989Idelia B. Riggs – Educator
Fall 1988Jerry Foster – Helicopter News Reporter
Fall 1987Sister Mary Kathleen Clark – Community Leader
Fall 1986Joy E. Marx
Fall 1985Sandra L. Tarlen – Ashes to Life – Burn Support Group
Fall 1984Larry Nielsen
Fall 1983Joseph Black – Corporate Leader
Fall 1982Ken Coy – News reporter and volunteer
Fall 1981Joel M. Weldon – Professional Speaker
Fall 1980Mary Jo West – Television Reporter
Fall 1979Jesse Owens – 1936 Gold Medal Olympian & Humanitarian
Fall 1978Lori Cox – High School Student Activist

Being named an Outstanding Toastmaster of the Year honors members who embody the Toastmasters core values: Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence. A committee reviews and selects Outstanding Area, Division, and District Toastmasters

Outstanding Toastmaster of the Year (OTMOTY)

Being named the Outstanding Toastmaster of the Year (OTMOTY) means that you have taken full advantage of the educational and service opportunities offered through the Toastmasters program. Every District 3 Toastmaster should complete and submit an application, not only for the chance to win the award, but also as a means of measuring their personal performance within the Toastmasters program.

OTMOTY Award Recipients:

2021-2022Barbara Schumacher, DTM
2020-2021Nancy Duckett, DTM
2019-2020Hallie Adams , DTM
2018-2019Kristin Gramando , DTM
2017-2018Jim Eng, DTM
2016-2017Jeannie Enders
2015-2016Bettie Covington
2014-2015Marcia Roberts
2013-2014Lisa Corwin, DTM
2012-2013Patti Boyce, DTM
2011-2012Nancy Goins, DTM
2010-2011Jeff Morud, DTM
2009-2010Al Gramando, DTM
2008-2009Rose Beeson, DTM
2007-2008Lynne Brasher, DTM
2006-2007Mukund Moorthy, DTM
2005-2006Roberta O’Connell, DTM
2004-2005Don Griffith, DTM
2003-2004Brenda Bird, DTM
2002-2003Art Nieto, DTM
2001-2002Trish Blackwelder, ATM-B/CL
2000-2001Mike Kaml, ATM-S/CL
1999-2000Nancy Starr, DTM
1998-1999Doris Koressel, ATMB
1997-1998Janette Gann, DTM
1996-1997Beryl Burke, ATM
1995-1996Bill Bristol, DTM
1994-1995Robert Wagner, DTM
1993-1994Steve Broe, ATM-B
1992-1993Elizabeth Bebo, DTM
1991-1992Kathy Collins, DTM
1990-1991Avi Shalom, ATM
1989Patricia Berardi, ATM-S
1988Rita Kane, ATM
1987William Chambers, ATM
1986Mary E. Fleming, DTM
1985Glenn Pike, DTM
1984Margie J. Nieto, DTM
1983Bob Erickson, DTM
1982Tom Bintliff, DTM
1981Deane Erickson, DTM
1980Len Baker
1979Paul Wiggs
1978William D. Hamilton, DTM
1977Bob Pultz
1976Gerson Mosbacher
1975Juris Kursulis, DTM
1974Daniel J. Mahoney
1973Joel H. Weldon
1972Gerard Baronnat
1971No Award
1970Ken Skinner
1969Ray Pruzzo

Each year, all Area Directors in good standing and completing their term of service are eligible. Congratulations to these past Area Directors recognized for their leadership and service contributions to the District. To submit someone for this award (even yourself), fill out an application form to be reviewed by the committee, and announced at our annual awards celebration.

2022Angel LarenaA1
2021Amanda CudaS5
2020Sara MayerV5
2019Kristy HopperC4
2018Nancy DuckettA1
2017Mike GiardinaS6
2016Brittany RandallN6
2015Joan McCarrellS2
2014Eddie DavisS3
2013Sharon WalkerC5
2012Sara BonfigY2
2011Jim EngS4
2010Ric WattierG2
2009Mike MurY2
2008Kenna ThomasG2
2007Evelyn Hughes
2006Colleen mooreY6
2005Shelly DudleyC3
2004Mick FettyY4
2003Laurie DoeingC5
2002Chris Vicencio
2001Cyndi NewburnC5
2000Art Nieto
1998DeeAnn MichaelP1
1997Connie MendozzaG3
1996Kelli McDoulette
1995Caroleen HitchensN1
1994Liz BeboM2
1993Terri Sparks
1992Evelyn Yanagihashi
1991Bill BrooksE2
1990Nancy Walker
1989Joan Newman
1988Clarice Lendriet
1987Roger SimpsonM1
1986Karen LandkamerD3
1985Jim DavisArea 1
1984Barbara RogersArea 9
1983Tim YoungArea 19
1982John Cash
1981Jan McKenzieArea 5
1980Mary Margaret DockendorffArea 9

Each year, all Division Directors in good standing and completing their term of service are eligible. Congratulations to these past Division Directors recognized for their leadership and service contributions to the District. To submit someone for this award (even yourself), fill out an application form to be reviewed by the committee, and announced at annual awards celebration.

2021Alicia HillsOcotillo Divsion

2021Max PrasadOcotillo Divsion
2020Edwin WestonTonto Division
2019David HopperCatalina Division
2018Angelica DelgadoZuni Division
2017Shelley GabrielTonto Division
2016 Joan McCarrellMohave Division
2015Eddie DavisZuni Division
2014Jan ByrdSaguaro Division
2013Kristin GramandoPicacho Division
2012Ann PrettymanRio Division
2011Nancy GoinsYavapai Division
2010Hallie AdamsCholla Division
2009Pete KarculiasSonoran Division
2008Cynthia KerfordGila Division
2007Al GramandoGila Division
2006Mukund MoorthyRio Division
2005Trish BlackwelderCholla Division
2004Laurie DoeingCholla Division
2003Brenda BirdCholla Division
2002Cyndi NewburnGila Division
2001Don GriffithCholla Division
2000Dixie HumphreysCholla Division
1999Not Awarded
1998DeeAnn MichaelPaiute Division
1997Warren ApgerGila Division
1996Liz Bebo Verde Division
1995Nancy StarrMetro Division
1994Lois PanserioWestern Division
1993Grace JohnsonMetro Division
1992Bill BrooksEastern Division
1991Allen CanfieldApache Division
1990Michael Mastrovito
1989Mike Herskovits
1988Dave Metcalf
1987David HillerMetro Division
1986Bonnie HydeMetro Division
1985Jim StavernSouthern Division
1984Mike DiCerboMetro Division
1983Suzanne LennonMetro Division
1982Ernie HughesMetro Division

In recognition of those who have shown excellent dedication to the Youth Leadership program.

The Betty Gillis Youth Leadership Award was established in honor of Betty Gillis following her death (1995) in recognition of her work through Youth Leadership with the Youth of Tucson.

Betty was a longtime member of District 3. She joined the Eyeopeners in Tucson in 1976 and Catalina club in 1990. During the 1980’s, Betty was an Area and Division Governor and achieved her Distinguished Toastmaster award.

She and her husband, Bob (a past Division Governor), were very active in youth leadership and helped influence many other Toastmasters to get involved with the Youth Leadership Toastmasters Program. Bob and Betty were always present at District 3 Conferences, even as their health began to decline.

In recognition of those who have shown excellent dedication to the Youth Leadership program:

2021 – 2022Mitch Blocker and Mary Irwin
2020 – 2021Edwin Weston
2019 – 2020Lucinda McNeil
2018 – 2019Jeannie Enders
2017 – 2018Neena Murickan
2014 – 2015Mary Lee Madison
2013 – 2014Patty Boyce, DTM
2012 – 2013Floyd Parks
2011 – 2012JD Austin, DTM
2010 – 2011Mike Zakis, DTM
2009 – 2010Liz Shaw, DTM
2008 – 2009Mukund Moorthy, DTM
2005 – 2006Bobbie O’Connell, DTM
2004 – 2005Michael DiCerbo, DTM
2001 – 2002Caroleen Hitchens, DTM
2000 – 2001Leonard Knight, DTM
1999 – 2000Stan Walters, DTM
1998 – 1999Caroleen Hitchens, DTM
1997 – 1998Paul Knutson, ATM
1996 – 1997Robert Wagner, DTM
1995 – 1996Mike DiCerbo, DTM
1994 – 1995Liz Bebo, DTM

Each year at the discretion of the District Governor, a deserving Arizona Toastmaster is presented the Russ Backus Award. The recurring award is presented to recognize members for their continual service to District 3 and to the Toastmasters program.

Russ Backus Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Each year at the discretion of the District Governor, a deserving Arizona Toastmaster is presented the Russ Backus Award. The recurring award is presented to recognize members for their continual service to District 3 and to the Toastmasters program. Learn more about the history of the Russ Backus Award.

2021-2022Trish Blackwelder
2020-2021Lynne Brasher
2019-2020Kristy Hopper
2018-2019Hallie Adams
2017-2018Tim Noble, DTM and Ellen Flanary, DTM
2016-2017Bill Bristol, DTM
2015-2016Bobbie O’Connell, DTM
2014-2015Emi Bauer, DTM
2013-2014Tim Swearingen, DTM, PID
2012-2013Jeff Morud, DTM
2011-2012Toni Leiboff, DTM
2010-2011Jim Davis, DTM
2009-2010Mike Kaml, DTM
2008-2009 Laurie Carr, DTM
2007-2008Rick Saxton, ATM
2006-2007Glenn Barber, DTM
2005-2006P.J. Glauz, DTM
2004-2005Steve Broe, DTM; Marcia Golombik, DTM (in memoriam)
2003-2004Judy Norris, DTM
2003-2003Jodie Kay Petra, DTM
2001-2002Nancy Starr, DTM
2000-2001Dee Dees, DTM
1999-2000Lee Wagner, DTM
1998-1999Juris Kursulis, DTM
1997-1998Art Nieto, DTM
1996-1997Mike DiCerbo, DTM
1995-1996Jo Ellis, DTM & Lee Ellis, DTM
1994-1995Bob Gillis, DTM
1993-1994Glenn Pike, DTM
1992-1993Oscar Herford, DTM
1991-1992George Barnett, ATM
1990-1991Russ Backus, DTM

Established in 2004, the Art Nieto Club Excellence Award recognizes an active member dedicated to raising the standard of excellence in District clubs.

The 2004 Spring Conference saw the inauguration of a new award—the Art Nieto Award for Club Excellence.  DG Joe De Rico suggested we should not wait until people were gone to recognize their contributions to District 3 Toastmasters and noted that Past International Director and 3 time District 3 Director, Art Nieto, a 30-year member of District 3, has been Club Extension Chair for more than twenty of those years. Joe went on to say that Art was demonstrating exemplary service to Clubs, particularly new Clubs. The DG said this award would be a namesake to the legacy gift of Art Nieto.

The purpose of this award is to recognize a Toastmaster who contributes exceptional service to the Clubs of the District. While Club officers serve their Clubs as part of their position descriptions within the Club, this award aims to recognize someone beyond the Club level who goes beyond the call of duty in service to Clubs.

2021 – 2022Nancy Starr-Cassidy
2020 – 2021Bettie Covington
2019 – 2020Michael Holian
2018 – 2019Trish Blackwelder
2017 – 2018Prince Leftridge, II, DTM
2016 – 2017Eddie Davis
2015 – 2016Kristin Gramando
2014 – 2015Nancy Goins
2013 – 2014Jim Davis, DTM
2012 – 2013Bill Bristol, DTM
2011 – 2012Laurie Doeing, DTM
2010 – 2011Tim Swearingen, DTM and Sally Goodwin, DTM
2009 – 2010Melissa Jones
2008 – 2009Susan Ball, DTM
2007 – 2008Kathy Shoemaker, DTM
2006 – 2007Mukund Moorthy, DTM
2005 – 2006Shelly Dudley, DTM
2004 – 2005Michael Desiderio, CTM
2003 – 2004Jeff Morud, DTM

The Juris Kursulis Sprit Award is bestowed at each District 3 conference upon the person who demonstrates unusual enthusiasm, dedication, and caring for District 3 and its members. The award is in the name of Past District Governor Juris Kursulis, DTM.

The Juris Kursulis Sprit Award is bestowed at each District 3 conference upon the person who demonstrates unusual enthusiasm, dedication, and caring for District 3 and its members. The award is in the name of Past District Governor Juris Kursulis, DTM.

Juris and his wife, Betty, were regular attendees of District 3 conferences for over 30 years. Juris always sported his vest from the 1981 International Convention hosted in Phoenix, and continued to festoon the vest with memorabilia, ribbons, pins, and awards. In 2004, when Juris knew that he had not much longer to contribute to the District, he asked International Director Nancy Starr-Cassidy to take possession of his beloved vest with the promise that it would be used to do something “good for the District.” What better way to honor Juris than to honor those who continue the tradition of caring and giving?

The award is presented at the Hall of Fame Luncheon at each District conference. The winner must be present to receive the award and to earn the right to wear the Vest!
Juris Kursulis

About Juris Kursulis

Juris came to America as a teenaged immigrant, escaping war in his homeland of Latvia. He became a U.S. citizen and joined the Air Force, where he met his bride, Betty, and her two amazing daughters in New Mexico. The family moved to Arizona where Juris went to work for Motorola. He became a member of Voice of Motorola Toastmasters (now Voice of Many), where he remained a member the rest of his life. In 1995, Juris helped form the Leaders Plus club, where he also remained an active member until his passing in 2005.

Juris was a man “bigger than life”–passionate about family, service to the nation, and Toastmasters. He was an outspoken, active member of the Past District Directors Committee and was always willing to challenge leaders

to ensure they were doing the right things for the right reasons. In later years, as he needed a cane to assist with his walking, he was known to wave the cane to add emphasis to an important point.

Unknown to many, this bear of a man was truly a gentle giant,always ready to share a quiet word of encouragement to leaders as they made difficult decisions or took other actions that showed their growth as Juris’s Vesta leader, and was a friend to many. He held us to a higher standard, and for that we were grateful.

About the Vest

In 1981, Phoenix served as the host District for the International Convention at the Phoenix Convention Center. The host committee volunteers received vests made of blue denim, embroidered with the conference theme and date. Juris served on the host conference committee, and wore his Vest at every conference thereafter.

Past Award Recipients

Spring 2022Barbara Schumacher
Spring 2021Wendy Durfee
Spring 2019Don Griffith
Spring 2018Sandee Brogan
Fall 2017Laurie & Lou Rangel
Spring 2017Michelle Zalak
Fall 2016Jim Davis
Spring 2016Connie Weiss
Fall 2015Eddie Davis
Spring 2015Jennifer Sarracino
Fall 2014Ryck Klecak
Spring 2014Glenn Barber
Fall 2013Debby Waugh
Spring 2013Lynne Brasher
Fall 2012Scott Holly
Spring 2012Nancy Goins
Fall 2011Maggie Sherwood
Spring 2011Diane Travers Shipman
Fall 2010Kristin Gramando
Spring 2010Jeannie Enders
Fall 2009Marc Dratch
Spring 2009Mike Kaml
Fall 2008Emi Bauer
Spring 2008Susan Ball
Fall 2007Judy Norris
Spring 2007Steve Broe

Mike DiCerbo Excellence in Mentoring Award commemorates the service and dedication of District 3’s longest serving Youth Leadership Chair. Mike DiCerbo served as the Youth Leadership Chair for over 25 years and once estimated that he had mentored and coached over 10,000 students in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area.

2021-2022Jim Davis
2020-2021Nancy Starr-Cassidy
2019-2020Tim Swearingen
2018-2019Curtis Henson
2017-2018Hallie Adams
PosthumouslyNancy Goins

District Service Awards

This set of awards recognizes the outstanding service of district leaders.

Each year, all Committee Chairmen in good standing and completing their term of service are eligible. Congratulations to these past Committee Chairman recognized for their leadership and service contributions to the District.

2019-2020Nancy Duckett, DTMClub Extension

2021-2022Wendy Durfee, DTMConference
2018-2019Randy Cazarez, DTMDCP Chair
2017-2018Stephanie HoffmanTLI Chair
2016-2017Not Awarded
2015-2016Madalyn LockhartContest Manager
2014-2015Bob MyersClub Extension
2013Malcolm HighDues Renewals
2012Emi BauerClub Extension
2011Jeannie EndersTLI Facilities
2010Cherie Baxley-GoresFall & Spring Conference
2009Lynne BrasherFall Conference
2008Not Awarded
2007Nova HallSpring Conference
2006Dwayne RobertsParliamentarian
2005June Van ValkenburgClub Coach
2005Laura SmithResource Room
2004Laurie DoeingHPL
2003Kathy ShoemakerRegistrar
2002Not Awarded
2001Brian CavanaughNewsletter
2000Rick SaxtonAudio-Visual
1999Dwayne RobertsParliamentarian
1998Stefan PetraSergeant at Arms
1998Judy NorrisTLI
1997Debbie KattelmanSergeant at Arms
1996Stefen & Jodie Kay PetraTLI
1995Dorris KoresselTelephone Referral
1994Geff WilsonClub Rescue
1993Nancy StarrDatabase & Judges
1992Sylvia HerschSergeant at Arms
1991Mike DiCerboAdministrative Assistant
1991Art NietoClub Extension
1991Joanne SchlosserTraining
1991Bonnie Cline MarcusRoadrunner Editor
1990Not Awarded
1989Art Nieto
1988Joan Makin
1987Not Awarded
1986Not Awarded
1985Not Awarded
1984Art NietoClub Extension
1984Jeff MorudRoadrunner Editor
1982Mike DiCerbo
1982John Cash
2022Xin Yin, DTM
2018Kristy Hopper, DTM
2018Martha Brock-Leftridge, DTM
2017Jim Davis, Becky Van Fleet, Diane Travers Shipman
2016Not Awarded
2015Mike Jenson, Jeannie Enders, Lynne Brasher, Trish Blackwelder
2014Julia Sayre, Ryck Klecak, Jennifer Saracino, Jeannie Enders
2013Al Gramando, Jim Eng, Debby Waugh, Glenn Barber
2012Tim Swearingen, Jeff Gores, Lynne Brasher, Deanna Dannison
2016Enid Moore-Cranshaw
2013Jim Davis