Early Bird Speakers Leadership Team 2020-2021


The Early Bird Speakers Leadership Team Elections will be taking place at the Early Bird Speakers meeting on Thursday 28th May 2020.

On this day, you will be voting for who you want to see in next year’s leadership team.

Voting will take place electronically that morning. Starting at 6.45 am email ballots will be sent to any member who has entered the Zoom meeting room. Cast your vote through the link in the email before the start of the meeting at 7.10 am. The results will be announced at the end of the meeting.

Voting is open to all full members of Early Bird Speakers. Please arrive on time to cast your vote. 


Ahead of the elections, please take a look below at the following profiles and videos of the candidates running for the different roles.

Thank you and all the best at the upcoming club elections.


Niels, Neil and Mark

EBS Electoral Committee 2020


Paul M

I live in Richmond with my wife Nadine and daughters Elisa and Leonora age six and four, and manage a global trading team at a major bank.  I grew up in the US, went to high school in Italy, university in Germany, and have lived in London the last thirteen years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere.  I expected to move somewhere new every three years until my fourth year in London…  I was incredulous, and am still adjusting to the idea of staying put, but I like it here and see the benefits of stability.

I try to balance my life, working hard, spending time with family, eating healthily, prioritising sleep and exercise.  Before Covid, I spent a lot of time on airplanes and was always seeking out new cultural and culinary experiences.  Spicy please!  I feel very satisfied with that stage of my life and am surprised how it looks in retrospect.

Working from home the last two months has brought tremendous stress relief, more family time, and a focus on what truly matters.  Balance in the future will be different as you can’t unsee something once it’s been revealed.  I’ve been attending EBS for over eighteen months and am hugely grateful for the friends I’ve made and the support it provides for members to self-actualise.  This is something truly special that I would like to contribute more to and am making a central part of my life.



Richard F

A Toastmaster since 2010, and EBS member since 2019, I am passionate about community and personal growth – two vital ingredients in the vibrancy, engagement and quality of public speaking at our wonderful club. 

Having studied in some detail the running of EBS under Niels Footman’s presidency, I applied the principles and practices I observed to my current role as President of Covent Garden Speakers. As a number of EBS visitors to CGS have been kind enough to testify, the effect has been dramatic. 

So solid and honed are the foundations at EBS, I would not, if elected President, look to stray from them. I see the whole function of the Leadership Team as being to support and nurture each member, helping to make their experience here the best it can possibly be. 

Much of this is down to an eye for detail. I would ensure that each member of the team understands the minutiae of what they are doing. I would enable a healthy flow of communication between the team and members, and I would encourage people’s creativity – not only in speeches and roles, but also in innovative extra-curricular projects such as Steven and Maud’s book club, or the club Oscars.

These elements all help to nurture a strong sense of community. And that is at the heart of everything.

Professionally, as a trainer I look to inspire the people I work with. Inspired people get fired up and achieve extraordinary things.

Be inspired. Be fired up. And please vote for me.


Vice President of Education

Christopher B

Hello all! I’ve been with the club for just over a year now and have really enjoyed getting to know everyone and experiencing the full range of speeches from members. Both the energy and learnings over that time have been immeasurable. I’d love to give something back to the club and get more involved, and have therefore put myself forward for the role of VPE. I want to spend the role as VPE getting to you know all better, and working with you to continue building up invaluable skills, while simultaneously working on those myself.


Vice President of Membership

Alex D

During a period of my life where I felt unchallenged I decided that it was time to start challenging myself. A close friend then recommended Toastmasters as a great avenue for pushing yourself whilst also incorporating a healthy dose of self-development. I took him up on this challenge and went to one of the many Toastmaster clubs in London. I think it is fair to say I wasn’t hooked after this visit. It was a small club which was incredibly encouraging but it didn’t quite check my “feeling fully challenged” dream. Eventually I was coaxed into going back to the club and this time there was a guest speaker who delivered a truly epic speech. I remember thinking “I absolutely do not want to follow that”. But I did. And it was a truly… underwhelming speech. I spoke with the epic speaker afterwards and was drawn to EBS. Where I have the same heart pounding feeling every week.

So what is the morale of this story? Well there are two things; Toastmasters is a terrific club and I don’t think there are many people who couldn’t do with a boost in their confidence and public speaking skills, but also, avoid my near mistake, if the shoe doesn’t fit that doesn’t mean you won’t still benefit from shoes! It is worth finding the perfect club for you, and just as I was drawn in by that speech two years ago, I’d very much like to draw our members in the future!  

Kollier D

I am %, an artist and creative entrepreneur, with bundles of experience operating social hotspots in London. Originally from Sierra Leone, I moved to the UK as a child and grew up in South London. I am passionate about art and design, and social issues such as migration, regeneration and working with African and Caribbean communities.

Since discovering EBS in October, I am proud of my 100% attendance record and believe I am well equipped to take on this role.  As a member I have learnt a lot about the club through attending and speaking regularly at meetings. As VP Membership, I would work hard to recommend the club to potential new members. I would also look to maintain good relationships with existing members, and encourage them to develop and meet their goals. EBS is a community organisation, and as I have a plethora of experience of working with the wider community, I believe my involvement would be of great benefit in making new and existing members feel welcome and comfortable.

Over the past few months I have seen the club shift from physical meetings at the Freemasons Hall to zoom meetings.  The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the flow of new and existing members. I would aim to find creative and practical solutions to meet the club’s targets. My extensive background in hospitality setting up cafes, clubs and gallery spaces has developed my people skills, and I want to use my social and interpersonal expertise to make EBS even more successful and fun!

Keep the Faith %


Vice President of Public Relations

Carole S

My life has been revolutionised with one-word “Toastmaster”
For the past 3 years, I have read more books than I ever thought I could read,
For the past 3 years, I have been transported on an amazing self-development journey,
For the past 3 years, I have met wonderful fellows Toastmasters who encourage me and bring the best out of me.
I have spent the last 3 years praising Toastmaster and I stand before you for the position of Vice President Public Relations because my ultimate aim is to continue to broadcast the benefit of Toastmaster, the benefit of our Club, and most importantly how others can benefit from joining our Toastmast family.

Maud C

Maud is very grateful for everything she is learning from EBS members and thought the best way she could give back was by using her PR skills for the club.
Maud has dedicated a lot of time to learning Marketing and PR over the past couple of years and has become a good graphic designer, able to accurately reflect an organisation or a club and to create genuine and enticing marketing.
Maud always creates custom, using her creativity and intuition, never from a template. The best way to convey this was to create a website. 
A marketing plan for the next year is included in it. 


The website is video based and works amazing when accessed on a desktop or laptop.
The mobile version does not support video so the site looks a bit less fun when accessed from a phone.


Catalina R

I work as a Regulation and Public Affairs specialist at Zenobe Energy. Prior to Zenobe, I  was part of Ofgem’s assurance team. I also worked as a regulatory analyst for an energy supplier. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in energy law and regulation.   

I am familiar with Pathways, Basecamp and Easyspeak and keen to share with other EBS members.


Robert B

I would welcome the opportunity to be a key member of the leadership team to make a positive contribution to the club, support others and as an individual to develop my leaderships skills. 

I feel that I have a lot of experience to offer the Early Bird Speakers club in the role of Secretary, bringing many years of operational management and governance from professional positions I have held. I currently hold a Trustee board position, chair a company board as well as having senior responsibilities across finance, human resources, legal and operations, which require attributes that I feel are transferable to this role.

Roles outside of the club require me to listen to others, allow empathy and understanding, and provide practical advice and solutions within a professional and family context. With my calm manner these are attributes that I can bring to the Secretary role to support the club. 

I see the role of Secretary as an important part of the leadership team and an opportunity to support and develop the club in the future. I believe that I can draw on my well-rounded experience to fulfil the Secretary role and would look forward to working with the wider leadership team.



Jess Y

Hello fellow EBSers.  If you’re thinking £££ requires a steady hand at the tiller and a bit of spunk to keep those dues due notices lively and engaging this is the brief I will bring.  With a 15-year background in operational and strategic HR, honesty and integrity is in my DNA (my husband remarked the other day I may have a bit too much integrity!  Is this even possible?!).  KPMG trusted me enough to let me manage a $150K budget within their HR team and over the years I’ve had responsibility for managing various contractors and suppliers, processing invoices and payments on time.  I love a good spreadsheet and am keen to give something back to the club that allows me to experiment and hone my craft of public speaking.

Sergeant at Arms

Robert B

I would welcome the opportunity to be a key member of the leadership team to make a positive contribution to the club, support others and as an individual to develop my leaderships skills.  

I feel that I have a lot of experience to offer the Early Bird Speakers club in the role of the Sergeant at Arms, bringing many years of practice in facilities and operational management from professional positions I have held. My hands-on approach and practical nature would be useful attributes to this role and am capable of proactively planning, as well as being responsive to changing circumstances.

Roles outside of the club require me to listen to others, allow empathy and understanding, and provide practical advice and solutions within a professional and family context. With my calm manner these are attributes that I can bring to the Sergeant at Arms role to support the club.  

I see the role of Sergeant of Arms as a contact point for all members and an opportunity to support and develop the club in the future. I believe that I can draw on my well-rounded experience to fulfil the Sergeant at Arms role and would look forward to working with the wider leadership team.

Vice President of Mentoring

Gemma S

Starting off on the path of public speaking definitely gets the heart racing at times. Even a bit further down the road a fresh perspective is invaluable if we want to continue to improve. 

Having been a Toastmasters newbie twice  – once when I first became a Toastmaster back in 2011 and again at the end of 2018 after a five-year break – I know what a difference it makes having someone to turn to when taking (or retaking) those nervous first steps. This is why as VP Mentoring I would be committed to making sure that all Early Birds have the support they need to take them to the next level, wherever they are on their journey, as well as making sure that mentors have everything that they need to be able to provide that support.

Having been both a mentee and a mentor at one time or another I also understand the importance of getting the right match for both sides. If you elect me I promise to combine my zeal for matchmaking with the commitment of Goldilocks checking out porridge to ensure that each and every Toastmaster has what they need to get where they want to go in public speaking. 

Richard S

It’s not the role of the VP Mentoring to be a mentor, but rather to encourage members to seek out another member from whom they can learn a new skill that they admire, whether that be structuring a speech, telling stories or stage presence.
It’s not necessary that the mentor be a more longstanding member, just that they have something that another member wants more of.
It’s the role of the VP Mentoring to encourage members to approach one another – mentoring can be a single conversation or an ongoing development.
When I was previously VP Mentoring, I introduced ‘5-Minute Mentoring’ within meetings with pairs of members engaged in a very structured brief set of questions, and I believe that this is possible to make this framework available for remote face to face contact.

Steven T

I want to build on the work done by Josh and previous mentoring VPs, and play my part in creating a mentoring framework that’s even more central to our progress as communicators

Learning and self-improvement are part of my DNA, and my paid work and voluntary work has involved training, mentoring and similar support work over the years. When I was VP Membership here at Early Birds, I loved using this experience to encourage members – and VP Mentoring would be the perfect place for me to be. 

If elected:

  • I see my role as facilitating and encouraging our mentoring arrangements
  • effective mentoring arrangements flex to suit the individuals involved, so a range of methods will always be possible – but one idea I’d like to put into the mix is mini mentoring mastermind groups. These would be small groups meeting regularly to discuss their goals, progress, roadblocks and to practice speeches and get feedback and support from each other
  • I will be contacting each and every one of you to ensure mentoring is working for you!

Do contact me if there’s anything you want to discuss before the vote

Vote for Steven, and let’s make mentoring even greater!

Vice President of Events

Armando E

I studied architecture at the Universidad Central of Venezuela and received a Diploma with honours in 2001. Later that year I co-founded and ran Elias & Cerutti Associate Architects Ltd, an architectural practice developing mainly residential projects.

I moved to London in 2002 to study in the Design Research Lab from the Architectural Association School of Architecture where I successfully received a Master’s Degree in Architecture.

I have over 18 years professional multidisciplinary design experience in leading international Architectural firms such as Foster and Partners, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Murphy Jahn, ARUP and Woods Bagot. During those years I was involved in high – profile projects around the globe ranging from product design to large complex architecture developments.

In 2012 I co-founded Craft Design, a dynamic architecture and construction firm specialised in the development of top-end residential and commercial properties.

I have excellent organisational and project management skills, always seeking for challenging roles in buzzing environment, where my existing skills could add value from the outset. Inspired by real challenges, I am a team player that can inject enthusiasm and humour whilst focusing on outstanding results.

Technology Officer

Mark S

Coming from a hands-on technical background, I possess the know-how to keep Early Bird Speakers existing tech in check and support the evolution of EBS into a cutting edge digital club.