February 1, 2008

Sabor at Voces Latinas

How a Latino leadership and speech club became President’s Distinguished and cultivated a culture of success

By Laura De Anda
and Arturo Yanez

Sabor. It’s a Spanish word meaning flavor, a certain something, something.

At Voces Latinas, a Toastmasters International club, you’ll find sabor at every club event. Members and guests add sabor to club speech contests and events. And the synergy and camaraderie at club events extends beyond the meetings.

What started as a vision for Kristopher Zuniga and Susan Orosco to form a Latino Toastmasters club that would guide its membership to enhance their public speaking and leadership skills has blossomed into a thriving President’s Distinguished club which has several Toastmasters district officers as members. The transformation has been incredible.

Just two years ago, the club met in a small conference room in a bank building in Little Tokyo. The club now meets at the NEW Connect Business Growth Center in L.A., which is able to accommodate the growing membership. Also, club members participate and place at area and district contests (Carlos Guerra, Jaime Herrera, David Allan Cruz and Ms. Orosco). Both veteran and newer members work together to take their speaking and leadership skills to the next level.

So what makes Voces Lat-inas so special? It’s all in the S-A-B-O-R, baby!

SIGNIFICANT: Club members see their communication and leadership skills improve in the club to produce significant results outside of the club. Several members are passionate about community and social causes, are members of other nonprofit organizations and they bring that passion to Voces Latinas.

ACCOMPLISHED: Voces Latinas is proud to have numerous members who are already accomplished in their own right and bring their higher standards of success to the club. Recent member, Maria Marin, author, talk show host and motivational speaker, has made public speaking a large portion of her career. Founder and current member, Susan Orosco, is a published author, with her book, “Seven Powers All Latinos Have Upon Which to Build an Empire.” Club events are often inspirational and moving. Audience members can typically expect to hear speechs which appeal to the higher self, inspiring club members to greatness.

BOLD: Members grow through stretching their comfort zone. Fear-busting is encouraged, in a gentle way. Newer members are invited to participate in speech contests and are coached to victory. And the club is not afraid to showcase its members’ speeches or evaluations in cyberspace. For some, it may be uncomfortable watching themselves at first but through this learning exp-erienhce, members grow as speakers. Thanks to club officer Aniceris Cancel, some of these speeches may be found on www.youtube.com/voces latinasTM

OPEN-MINDED: Voces Latinas fosters a spirit of openness. Club members don’’t shy away from controversial subjects, nor do they judge beliefs different from their own. Speeches from the far conservative right to the liberal-leaning left and in between are the norm. Club meetings are friendly and open, and as an open community club, all races, all religions are welcomed.

RESOLUTE: Club members are firm in purpose, beliefs and the club’s mission. In addition to providing a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, Voces Latinas seeks to produce outstanding speakers and leaders in the Latino community; coach members to succeed in their personal and professional lives; and empower members to realize their dreams.

All these factors and more have contributed to the club’s achieving Select Distinguished status in June 2006, and President’s Distinguished status in May 2007, five years after Voces Latinas was chartered. With the help of its membership and club leadership, Voces Latinas will continue to be President’s Distinguished and boast about its members’ accomplishments and personal victories for years to come.

Laura De Anda is president of Voces Latinas Toastmasters. Arturo Yanez, principal of FSY Architects, is the immediate past club president. The club’s website is www.voceslatinasclub.org

Return to the Frontpage