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Members’ voices are their strength

Members’ voices are their strength
Viviana Ardila passes the gavel to Gary Monji who succeeds her aspresident of the Burbank Toastmasters Club 1320. (photo by BarbaraMassey)
(Courtesy of Barbara Massey)

It’s Toastmasters’ philosophy that to become a strong leader, one must be an effective communicator. So members practice organizing their thoughts and presenting them to a supportive audience during their meetings, gaining feedback and confidence.

Members take that experience with them to use in their personal lives, occupations or philanthropic endeavors.

Outgoing President Viviana Ardila recently handed off the gavel to Gary Monji, who will lead Burbank Toastmasters Club 1320 this year.

Monji told his fellow members that the nonprofit organization has been helping people hone their speaking abilities since 1924.


“Toastmasters has helped thousands of people worldwide who are looking to develop speaking and leadership skills, win that job interview or ignite their careers,” he said. “During Viviana’s tenure, the Burbank club became President’s Distinguished and inducted 24 new members. I have big shoes to fill and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Monji is an optometrist in Burbank. He is a graduate of the Southern California College of Optometry and has been in practice since 1989.

Ardila is the Community Resources Coordinator with the city of Burbank. She provides outreach to five focus neighborhoods in the city through an award-winning program called Connect with Your Community. She is taking the office of Vice-President of Education this coming year with Toastmasters.

Other officers are Vice-President of Membership Ric Duran, Vice-President of Public Relations Barbara Massey, Secretary Janet Beflin, Treasurer Darren Robinson and Sergeant-of -Arms Mike Finizio.


The Burbank Toastmasters Club meets at noon every Wednesday at the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, 200 W. Magnolia Blvd. Guests are always welcome. For more information, visit

Scouts scrub their way to camp

Burbank Boy Scout Troop 210 is having a fundraising car wash from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the Elks Lodge at 2232 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank. The cost is $5 per car or $7 per truck/SUV/van.

The Scouts are raising funds to cover summer-camp costs, said Scoutmaster Bill O’Leary.

YMCA director of philanthropy named

Former board member and past board chair Yvette Herrera is joining the staff of the Burbank Community YMCA as Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement. Herrera, a resident of Burbank for more than 20 years, is the founder of HT Group, a boutique consulting firm that provided strategic marketing to nonprofit organizations and businesses for the past 10 years.

Herrera is giving up her consulting practice to work for a community agency whose mission she strongly believes in, she said.

“I believe that the Y, its mission, solid reputation and extensive reach is uniquely situated to mobilize community caring, activism and ownership,” she said. “We can create new partnerships with people and organizations who believe, like I do, that the YMCA can help make Burbank an even better place to live, work and raise our children.”


The Y’s Chief Executive Officer, JC Holt, expressed his perspective on hiring Herrera as a “terrific result to an extensive search”.

“We attracted qualified candidates from as far away as New York,” he said. “I could not be happier with the outcome. Yvette’s skill set, organization knowledge and longtime community engagement in Burbank make this a perfect fit for the Burbank Y.”

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at