Member Highlight

Jeff Coyne – March

Jeff has been a Toastmaster since February 2012, quickly got involved becoming the Publication Chair for the District 13 Fall 2012 Conference, and serving as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Westinghouse Toastmasters Club. He also served as VP Education at Westinghouse and is currently the Treasurer of the Zelienople Club, Area 11 Director, Logistics Manager for District 13, and a Club Coach for the VA Club in Oakland.

Jeff is two speeches away from his ACB, and is diligently working towards his DTM. In his free time, Jeff enjoys rowing on a corporate team at the Three Rivers Rowing Club boathouse on Washington’s Landing (he started rowing in college at CMU), volunteers as an operator at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (his great-grandfather was an operator for Pittsburgh Railways in Oakland), and plays baseball in an adult baseball league (he last played baseball when he was nine years old!).

Jeff’s greatest joy in being a Toastmaster is watching other members grow and become better speakers and leaders. Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you for your Toastmaster PRIDE.

Heather Sotomayor – February

Heather Sotomayor (SO – TOE – MAY- OR) has been a Toastmaster since April 2011. Her name is phonetically spelled because ever since Sonia Sotomayor became well known, everyone likes to pronounce the name differently.

She has held multiple club officer roles within the BNY Mellon Club and The Next Step club.  She is currently a club coach for Culturally Speaking, president at Pitt Public Health, and the Area 34 Director.  Heather has shown total dedication to the Toastmasters program and is a believer that it can help change lives.  She dove right in to her area director role. The Pitt Public Health club was a struggling club in her area, and she and the dedicated members are working to revitalize the membership base.

Heather has a big heart and is more than willing to help people in need.  This is evident in hearing her speeches regarding nature and bees. This was also evident when she was president of BNY Mellon, where her main concern was always about the members. Heather knows that Moments of Truth is a critical tool that every Toastmasters club should use.  You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you are. Congratulations, Heather!

Michael Leonard – January

Michael has been a Toastmaster since 2014, and during that time has been a club president, club treasurer, and area director. Michael has chaired a district conference and has been the registration chair of another conference. He has also given presentations at TLI for club treasurer and vice president of membership (1/7/17 TLI). Michael believes that when you think you are at the top of your game is when things get dangerous. You should always be looking to improve your skills.

Michael is a member of L3 Leadership and a vice president of the National Aviary volunteer council. He earned his PMP certification (Project Management Professional) in 2015. Michael takes every opportunity he can to improve himself. He currently has his CC and ALB. He has completed 9 advanced speeches, but has bounced around manuals and has yet to complete one manual in full.

Michael credits Toastmasters with giving him skills that give him a leg up on most people in his field (Information Technology). Many IT professionals do not like to interact with people, but Michael enjoys it, and Toastmasters has made him much better at it. Michael joined because of a former supervisor’s suggestion. Little did he know that Toastmasters would light a passion in him to give back to others and help others achieve the confidence he has gained because of Toastmasters.

Michael had the chance to attend the Toastmasters International conference in DC in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it; he encourages everyone to get to one. There are so many connections you can make at a Toastmasters convention, and everyone treats you like family.

Other things Michael enjoys include traveling, scuba diving, nature, sports and entertainment. He and his wife have been to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, The Bahamas, Las Vegas, Costa Rica, California, Florida, and Maui to name a few. Many places he travels to include scuba diving where he is able to satisfy some of his love for nature with marine wildlife. Michael also plays in several softball and ice hockey leagues. He also loves to be entertained and attends many sporting events in Pittsburgh and follows the teams around the country. On average, he attends four concerts per year, as well as several musicals in Pittsburgh’s cultural district.

Erica Stevens – December15369791_10154110244861623_1244083852_o

Erica is a bike-riding, German-speaking, cat- and microscope-loving, list-obsessed Materials Engineering PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. Erica has a problem: she joins every organization she can get her hands on because she constantly seeks self-improvement. Over time, most have slipped through her fingers like sand; Toastmasters is part of the sand-pile left in her palm.

Erica’s father was a Toastmaster, and once won the District Humorous Speech Contest with a story about trying to engineer a riding mower to also be a leaf blower. After being inspired by her father, Erica decided to join Oakland Toastmasters in the summer of 2013. More than three years later, Erica has been VP PR, President, and VP PR (round 2) for the Oakland Club. She has won and lost speech contests through the division level. She has earned her CC and ALB designations. She is a club coach for the Pitt Public Health club.

She has collected a veritable laundry list of accomplishments, but she still has the same goals and attitude: have fun, constantly aim for improvement, and always try to help others. One of the most significant lessons she has learned from Toastmasters is the value of a sincere smile. Being genuinely happy to see your audience can make them genuinely happy to listen to you.

Otto “Bud” H Nissen – November

In the group picture, Bud is pictured at bottom center displaying his award.

Otto “Bud” Nissen has valiantly battled his way through life after a tragic accident 25 years ago left him a quadriplegic. Everyone who knows Bud marvels at his ability to stay positive and focused on what he CAN do – not what he can’t do. This now includes earning his Toastmasters “Competent Communicator” Award after two years of painstaking efforts. Bud was invited to participate in Elk County Toastmasters based in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania by Ms. Dale Fox, the current President of the local club.

“Bud astonished me from the first moment I met him sunning himself on a back-street alley. Listening to his story, I recognized his inspirational qualities and invited him to “get out of Dodge” and share his experiences through Toastmasters”, explained Ms. Fox, who became Bud’s mentor and best friend.

During his journey, Bud taught his club how to make many accommodations that enabled him to share his life experiences as well as his “never give up” attitude. He wowed the organization with numerous speeches and demonstrations, including how he learned to eat again and painting beautiful watercolors without the use of his fingers. Toastmasters is now part of Bud’s life, and he is currently pursuing his Advanced Communicator status. As the new Vice-President of Education, he constantly encourages members to achieve their goals. It is very hard indeed to say NO to Bud!

“Bud Nissen embodies the mission of Toastmasters which entails the provision of a mutually supportive environment whereby members drive each other to increase personal confidence while becoming effective communicators and leaders. We consider Bud to be our Chief Inspiration Officer!”, shared Jeff Yetzer, Vice-President of Public Relations.

Bud and Dale are available to share their knowledge of how to accommodate individuals with disabilities in a Toastmasters club setting. Please contact them through for more information.


Josué Batista/Anthony Roscoe – October

Past District Director, Josué Batista, and current Division Director D, Anthony Roscoe, are our October Member of the Month. Josué was recognized by the Jefferson Awards Foundation and HM Health Solutions for his outstanding community service as a member of the executive team of District 13 Toastmasters.


Every year, Highmark Health enterprise employees volunteer thousands of hours of their time to help make our organization’s commitment to improving the communities we serve a reality. The Jefferson Awards for Public Service recognize employees for their volunteer work. The Jefferson Award is one of America’s highest honors and is considered the “Nobel Prize” for public service. 
Every quarter, HM Health Solutions Health recognizes employees with the prestigious Diamond Award in appreciation for their dedication to HMHS’ Mission, Vision, and Values and their Commitment to Excellence. Tony Roscoe and Josué Batista received the Second Quarter 2016 Diamond Award after developing a proposal to charter the first Toastmaster’s Club for HM Health Solutions.

Katina Hunter – September

Katina originally hails from Erie, PA. She went to school at Penn State University for Public Relations. She currently lives in North Sewickley with her husband and two sons. She enjoys cycling, scrapbooking, volunteering for 4-H, and eating chocolate (not in that order.)
 Katina Hunter Finalist Photo
Fun Facts:
  • Gave a persuasive speech in college as to why people shouldn’t eat at Hooters.
  • Did theater in high school but never landed a major role.
  • Met her husband at a rodeo.
  • Used to ride & show horses.
  • Has traveled to Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Greece, and Switzerland with an upcoming trip to England, Greece (again) and Denmark
  • Has tried on two different occasions to make the Toastmasters Magazine in Traveling Toastmasters… still trying.
  • Cannot be trusted around chocolate (seriously… don’t do it – it’ll be gone.)
  • Going on tour with two other finalists from Region 7 (Aaron Beverly and Elliot Eddie) this spring!!!
  • Loves speech-writing and evaluating just as much, if not more, than actually speaking 🙂

 Amy Gamble – August

Amy Gamble, M.A. hadScreen Shot 2016-08-12 at 10.15.08 PM the honor of representing the U.S.A. at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. She became Marshall County’s first Olympian when she competed with the U.S.A. Women’s Handball Team. Earlier, the U.S.A. Women’s team was crowned as champions of the Pan American Games.

She was an All-American High School Basketball player from John Marshall High School and went on to play college basketball at the University of Tennessee and the University of Arizona. In 2004, Amy was inducted in the O.V.A.C. Hall of Fame.

In 2014, Amy began speaking publicly about her journey with bipolar disorder. She teamed up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Wheeling (NAMI) to raise awareness in the community on mental illness. Through her talks and presentations Amy brings mental illness out of the shadows and gives hope to her audiences that recovery is possible.

Amy joined West Liberty Toastmaster’s to improve her speaking skills and learn from other club members. She is hoping Toastmaster’s will help her reach her goal of becoming a National Speaker.
To contact Amy for speaking engagements you can reach her by phone at 304-281-4494 or email at

Nominate a fellow Toastmaster by sending an email to: