Meet Our Members
Disclaimer: Not all members have chosen to be included on this page.
Catherine Magruder is the author of When Henry Met Santa Claus, a children’s Christmas storybook. A Toastmaster since 1990, she is a charter member of StoryMasters. From 2001 to 2019, Catherine volunteered as a public speaking instructor and coach for Tree Musketeers, which promotes youth environmental activism. She is the owner of Catherine’s Creative Communication Company, where she shares the gift of empowering and educational workshops with children ages 11 to 17. Storytelling has been the key to her success.
A co-Sponsor of StoryMasters, Hiba Hamdan believes in the power of well-crafted stories that entertain us, teach us, and inspire us. Having learned the storytelling techniques from her wonderful mentors, she keeps on using this knowledge to enhance her presentations, and to help other professionals create compelling speeches. After a 20-year career in the Airlines and Telecommunication industries, Hiba currently works on a part-time basis at TV Santa Barbara as the Director of Media Programming. In 2018, Hiba initiated a series of short TV interviews with senior community members, which she named “Wisdom of our City”. Hiba speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish.
Jill Vanderweit joined Toastmasters in 2003 and belong to two other clubs: NTL Advanced in Maryland and Talk for Change in DC. For 20+ years, her day job was managing association and government conventions. Any income left over, after food and rent, went to supporting her night job as an actor. Since retirement, she continues to act and writes theatre grants. Her most notable accomplishments during the pandemic are: 1) coordinating District 36’s first virtual Toastmasters Leadership Institute; 2) sewing masks for friends and family; and 3) converting her carport into a personal Tiki Bar.
Kathy Falco helps guide women through conversations with their doctors. Her focus on the gaps in communication arose from her nearly two decades of work as a nurse. What she teaches today on communication is not from her nursing education but from the voices of the patients she was honored to serve. Wanting to elevate these voices led Kathy to study storytelling with renowned storyteller, Barbara H. Clark, and public speaking through Toastmasters International. Kathy believes by teaching women how to self-advocate her passion for all to live their healthiest life may be realized.
Lin Van Gelder
Lin Van Gelder joined Toastmasters while working at Boeing in the satellite division. She fell in love with storytelling, and when her friend and mentor Hiba Hamdan invited her to become a charter member of a new group, Lin was excited to join. StoryMasters was born! Lin is married and they are servants to their pet cats. Being retired, they would often travel, which makes a storyteller of anyone, Lin believes. Lin truly loves to hear the stories told by the amazing and highly-skilled members of StoryMasters. For fun, Lin plays ukulele, and writes stories and poetry.
Margaret Mitchell is an avid student, teacher and hearer of personal storytelling. She is a charter member of StoryMasters and is entering her third year of study in the Tell Me A Story workshop conducted by esteemed storyteller Barbara H. Clark. Margaret enjoys sharing her stories with audiences of all ages and sizes and is always eager to both teach and learn about this ancient art. She is retired from the City of Compton, where she served as Emergency Services Coordinator and Special Assistant to the City Manager.
Born and raised in Japan, Miyo Yamauchi brings a unique perspective and sense of humor to storytelling. Her insatiable curiosity about life, people and the world leads her on many adventures and results in stories that delight her audience. She regularly performs at the Fanatic Salon Theater, other spoken word events, and the StoryMasters club. During the day, she works as a computer programmer for UCLA, writing narratives for computers to perform.
“Club Mama” Tina Tomiyama co-founded StoryMasters in 2011 with her friend Hiba Hamdan. For seven or eight years the club met monthly in her living room. While working at Mattel in 2001, Tina joined the company Toastmasters club. (“I was shamed into it,” she says, “by watching a shy staffer with little English bravely get up and give a speech.”) Tina appreciates how Toastmasters helped her become a better workshop trainer, but once she heard the spellbinding storyteller Barbara H. Clark speak, Tina was hooked on storytelling. A retired graphic designer, Tina studies with Barbara H. Clark and others. While she has spoken at several professional venues, she confesses, “Listening to stories is far more enjoyable than telling them. My fellow storytellers are my window to the world.”
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