Welcome to Crosswinds Toastmasters


Crosswinds Toastmasters is a fun, supportive atmosphere to develop and practice your public speaking, listening, and leadership skills. Each week there are chances to give prepared and impromptu speeches as well as receive feedback from fellow members on ways to improve.

Guests are always welcome, so please stop by and visit us!

Meet Our Members

The Crosswinds Lineup (Updated: 7/2020)

Present Members

Charlie Harris, Club President and Sergeant-At-Arms
Charlie has been a member of Crosswinds since 2015 and serves a dual role as VP Public Relations and as VP of Membership. Already a very capable speaker, his goal is to sustain, hone, and perfect his speaking skills in various different environments.

Charlie also works at Emerson - Fisher Controls. He enjoys traveling, film, geography, cars, learning new languages, biking, and podcasts.  

Melissa Niesen, ACS, VP Education & Treasurer
Melissa has been a member of Crosswinds Toastmasters since the club started working towards its charter, which it earned in 2003. She loves seeing new members grow and become more confident in their speaking abilities.
Melissa is employed as an engineer with Emerson Process Management - Fisher Controls.
In her free time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, preferably outdoors, hiking, sailing, camping, walking, biking, running, weightlifting, and volunteering.

Teresa Hutchens, VP Membership
I work in Project Management at Emerson. I’ve been in this position for 6 years. I joined Toastmasters at the suggestion of my manager to gain more confidence in speaking. Short term, I want to learn to respond to unexpected topics in meetings and long term, I know Toastmasters will aid in my career growth.

Outside of work, I love anything artistic: Sewing, crocheting, painting, glass fusing, all crafts! I enjoy walking with my husband and our three mini-dachshunds. I enjoy books although these days its mostly Audible books since I don’t have the time to read.

Jade McCoy, VP Public Relations & Secretary
I have always dreamed of being part of Toastmasters International even when I was still in the Philippines. I am a firm believer in the power of communication in building relationships and influencing others. For this reason, I took up BA Communication Arts in college and was a passionate member of our Debate Club. The ability to communicate well has opened doors for me to teach for 12 years and has given me an opportunity to serve others. 

When I arrived in Marshalltown to get married in 2016, one of my priorities was to find a local club that is aligned with my passions and values. 2 years later, I learned about a local Toastmasters Club called Crosswinds. I visited the club and was inspired not only by the passion of the members but also the welcoming atmosphere that greeted me every meeting. I finally decided to officially join in June and have enjoyed it immensely. Every Crosswinds meeting provides a venue to practice not only our individual communication and leadership skills but also our ability to bring value to each other. It has taught me not only to speak but to listen, not only to write a speech but to communicate my values, & not only to evaluate others but to know how to affirm & encourage them.   

Alice Chen, 

Alice has been a member of Crosswinds since 2017 and currently serves as VP Education. She enjoys the dynamics and fun that Toastmasters brings, and has become more comfortable and skillful speaking in front of people. She would like to recommend Toastmasters to anyone who enjoys laughing and learning!
Alice was an accountant, a project coordinator, and now a homemaker. She enjoys reading and family time, preferably outdoors. 

Bill Backoff, ATMB, CL
-Member of Crosswinds Toastmasters since July, 2002. I have served as club Sergeant at Arms, Secretary, President, and assistant VP Membership.
-I served two terms as Toastmasters Area 51 Governor, and was also Assistant Area 51 Governor.
-Retired from Union Pacific Railroad as a freight train conductor in 2015 after nearly 41 years of service.
-I was a City Councilman for the city of Marshalltown from January, 2007 to July 2010.
-My wife, Tammy, and I keep busy raising our two teen age daughters. I am currently a Green Mountain-Garwin School Board member, an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer, and active in our church.

I thoroughly enjoy being a member of Crosswinds Toastmasters.
Toastmasters is, in my opinion, the BEST way to improve Communication and Leadership skills. The club provides a VERY supportive and positive atmosphere.

Past Members:

Abigail Pelzer  

Abigail Pelzer is the publisher of the Marshalltown Times-Republican and six weekly newspapers in Tama/Grundy counties. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked at newspapers across the state of Iowa and has been an active volunteer in those communities.  

She currently serves on the Vision Marshalltown Board of Directors and volunteers at the Iowa Veterans Home. Her off the job interests include reading, yoga, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Pelzer joined Crosswinds Toastmasters to further develop leadership and speaking skills. 

Andi Acton 

Carrie Klinge, 

I have been a member of Toastmasters since November 2015.  Toastmasters has helped me become comfortable in front of an audience whether that audience is one or many people.  I have enjoyed honing my speaking skills and being in a group that has the same goals.

I work at Emerson Process Management Fisher Controls.  I enjoy being a mom and wife, playing and watching sports, reading, and knitting/crocheting.

Leah Cox, ACB, ALB, DTM
10 years have come and gone since joining Crosswinds Toastmasters. Where has the time gone? My core beliefs remain growth, confidence and maturity as gained in Toastmasters is invaluable in the business world, regardless of your position, be it manual laborer or management. You may ask why I joined. It was for the growth potential in my career. The listening and evaluating has been more beneficial to me. Yes, my speaking skills are more honed now, but the ability to see and hear the nuances are invaluable. What have I accomplished as a Toastmaster? In Crosswinds have held most club offices at least once and was more effective in some while failing miserably in others. But the point is, I tried and learned. At the Area, Division and District levels I have held the Area 51 and Division C Governor (now Director), the District Secretary, Administration Manager, Assistant to the District Director and the District Chief Judge and others. What was learned in these positions? In part-I gained how to organize; my work, life, home, and career. What did I gain? What was already mentioned as well business contacts and friendships.

Dierdre Taylor

I joined Toastmasters about 2 years ago to improve my speaking skills and to become more familiar with speaking in public.   Also felt it was a good tool to have for further advancement in the company. 

I work in the Fisher Nuclear Unit in the Parts business.  I have been in this role for 4 ½ years and have been with Fisher Controls for 17 ½ years.

My hobbies include but not limited to cross stitch, reading, coloring, hiking the mountains of Washington State, spending time with my family, biking, and walking.

Zach Ray, Co-Club President
Zach joined Crosswinds Toastmasters in June of 2016 after hearing the excitement for the group that fellow coworkers had. He looks to continue to improve his public speaking ability and to challenge his listening/evaluating skills.

Also a part of Emerson Process Management, Zach works as Customer Service Supervisor at Governor Road. He is active in local rec sports and also enjoys struggling with his guitar or watching the latest movie.

Come to a meeting and enjoy a lively exciting hour of relaxed comradery, learning how to manage more effectively and improved speaking skills. We meet each Tuesday at noon at the Emerson Innovation Center, Sorocaba room, Marshalltown, IA. The meetings are over before 1 PM for those who need to return to work. Bring your lunch if you like! 

Alissa Prusha  

Alex Anderson 

Curtis Conrad, VP of Education

Curtis was a member of Crosswinds as the club’s VP of Education.  As an inexperienced public speaker, he joined Crosswinds in order to become more comfortable speaking in front of people and to build skills applicable to environments both professional and otherwise.

George Trent

Long-Time Member, currently resides at the Iowa Veterans Home

Sarah Rebecca Harding-Kohn-(Mattingly) 
US Navy Veteran, Mother of 3(manager), Volunteer for Conservation, Big thinker, Proud Iowan. 

I joined TM FEB16, after a 6 year break. I realized what was missing in my life was a club that
focused on self improvement,so rejoined TM knowing it would propel my self improvement to a new level. It already has opened doors, and allowed me to grow under the guidance of a team willing to help.

I am an introverted person, so TM has been a great experience to help me learn how to communicate more effectively, so I have to do it less. 

Chrissy Bjorklund, VP Education

Adin Mann
Toastmasters is helping me speak with more confidence by practice and feedback in an environment where members listen for details and overall impact.  The feedback is supportive and focused on changes that feel possible.  I look forward to the feedback, knowing that there will be changes that I can work on.  Members are taking my monotone, minimal body language, and nervous pacing as where I am and helping me add some inflection in my voice and some natural body language.  I have done less to improve that nervous pacing.

The best part is the fun at the meetings.  On days when I just want to sit in my cube, eat lunch and get some work done, my Toastmasters colleagues get me out and smiling by the time that I leave the meeting.

David Arnold
David was a member of Crosswinds from September 2010 to July 2016. He has held the position of Crosswinds President and Vice President of Membership.

He says: “I joined Toastmasters because I wanted to practice honing arguments and quick thinking on a regular basis. I like public speaking and wanted to have a place to communicate and be understood.
Crosswinds Toastmasters has provided me an opportunity to improve my metaphors and word pictures useful to help communicate with others.”

David is interested in the relationship of politics, religion, and human nature. Many of his speeches attempt to explore these topics but he also talks about stories from his life.

Tyler Peschong 

I have been a part of the Toastmaster’s Crosswinds Group for two months.  I have always been able to talk, but I joined the group to help develop my ability to speak. Working at State Farm Insurance, I am constantly communicating with current and future customers.  Outside of work, one of my biggest passions is to help the next generation find a path toward success.  I believe speaking allows me to do that.

When not working, I enjoy time with my fiancĂ© and family. I play a wide variety of sports that help me stay active and energized. I also officiate basketball at the high school and college level that keeps me active in the winter time and helps to develop my “conflict resolution skills.”  

Clyde Eisenbeis, DTM

Clyde has been a member of Toastmasters since 1980 ... Eastwinds, Prairie Winds, Turtle Mountain Winds, and Crosswinds.

He likes Toastmasters because it attracts enthusiastic people, is fun, and is entertaining.

Toastmasters is well known for improving speaking skills. Less well know are the exceptional "working with people skills " and "conflict resolution skills".

Cyndi Barber

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