Club leadership

Club leadership

The Düsseldorf Toastmasters leadership team is elected every year. Being a club member can be a lot of fun and also help develop valuable leadership skills.

Club year 2023/2024


Ivan Polak, President

Ivan has professional background in marketing and project management, and works for a global company with the European head office in Düsseldorf. He comes originally from Slovakia and has studied and worked in multiple countries across Europe. Ivan joined Toastmasters in Prague in 2013, where he also held several leadership roles in the club. After his move to Düsseldorf, Ivan has re-discovered the world of Toastmasters and the development opportunities that the organization offers. Presentations at work, client meetings, assertive negotiations, all of which can get improved at Toastmasters, while getting to know wonderful people in the club.


Gladys Anne Just, Immediate Past President

Gladys worked for many years as an intensive care nurse in a hospital. A few years ago, she repositioned herself professionally and now works in the sales department of a company for hygiene concepts and benefits from her practical knowledge. Holding interesting lectures and training courses for customers is now part of her job, and for this, among other things, she looks forward to the inspiration and constructive exchange at the Düsseldorf Toastmasters. She particularly appreciates the broad personal, professional and cultural background of the members.


Björn Schulz, Vice President Education

Björn studied computer science and marketing and is working on a product information system for a large retail group. In his spare time he loves to produce music in his mixing & mastering studio. At a communication seminar in July 2018 he got the tip to visit the Toastmasters which he followed. At the Toastmasters he appreciates the versatile environment and the atmosphere in which members grow as speakers and also in their personality. Since July 2019, he has taken over responsibility for the education program.


Andrea Schmitz, Vice President Mentoring

Andrea is a mechanical engineer working in international mechanical and plant engineering. Her work has taken her to America and Asia. She also enjoys traveling in her private life and getting to know other countries and cultures. At the Düsseldorf Toastmasters, Andrea repeatedly experiences how people overcome their fear of speaking, how they gain self-confidence and how they become excellent speakers. At the same time, she appreciates the high level of the experienced speakers, who are role models and sources of inspiration for her. All of this has led her to volunteer with the club. “It gives me pleasure and also makes me proud to see how our members develop their potential.”



Dr. Gaby Schilling, Vice President Membership

As a chemist, Gaby has gained many years of leadership experience in a large international company. Having achieved a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she is currently self-employed as trainer and coach, primarily supporting young scientists who are planning to start a career outside academic research. Her wish to deliver more inspiring speeches has motivated her to join Toastmasters. She enjoys the opportunity to try out something new in an atmosphere of appreciation and to support others in reaching their targets.


Dr. Suzana Cerina, VP Big Club Ambassador

Suzana will introduce herself here soon.



Malte W. Wilkes, Vice President Special Projects

Malte is honorary president of the BDU “Bundesverband Deutscher Unternehmensberater”, author of several books as well as columnist and commentator. Malte has experience – also in TV and radio – from more than 1000 public stage talks as speaker, talk-participant and moderator. His areas of interest are inspiration & innovation, change & growth. His core topics are persuasion techniques in leadership, transformation, advertising but also therapy processes. Malte joined Toastmasters in 2013 to optimize his “5-minute speeches” and to experiment with different speaking techniques. He has reached the highest level as a speaker at Toastmasters with the ACG (Advanced Communicator Gold). His credo: “My speeches and presentations should persuade, not inform.”


José Lozano, Vice President Digital

José has lived and worked in several European cities, including Madrid, London, Berlin, Munich and currently Düsseldorf. He studied fine arts and specialised in communication design. He worked for years as an art director in several large advertising companies and is currently a UX designer in an IT consultancy. He joined the Düsseldorf Toastmasters in 2019 and has been a new member of the Presidium for Digital Affairs since the end of 2022. What he particularly appreciates about Toastmasters is the atmosphere in the club, the continuing education character and the personal growth that comes with it.


Christine Sommerfeldt, Vice President Community Management

Christine is a self employed photographer with her own studio in Düsseldorf. She is specialized in business photograhy and executive portraits. When she joined Toastmasters in 2013, she was looking for a way to help her clients to have a more confident appearance in front of the camera and in their photos. As a photographer, she speaks publically about body language and presence as well as about the importance of having excellent photo material.


Thorben Berndt, Sergeant At Arms

Thorben is studying nutritional sciences and became aware of Toastmasters in Düsseldorf at the end of 2022 through a tip from a friend. Since then, he has been enthusiastic about the growth opportunities Toastmasters offers him and is happy about the opportunity to contribute to club life as a “seargent at arms”. He used to avoid the limelight and public speaking as much as possible, but today he is convinced and happy that both will still play a major role in his life. Therefore, he appreciates most the uplifting and constructive interaction at Toastmasters. In his free time, Thorben plays drums in two bands.


Dr. Maik Adelt, Treasurer

Maik is a department manager in the internal audit group of a Dax Company. He regularly faces the challenge – in German and English – to convince employees, colleagues not only in content, but also emotionally. Toastmasters helps him develop these skills. The German and English club evenings give him the opportunity for rhetorical experimentation. He appreciates the friendly, motivating and constructive feedback from the other club members.



Dr. Claribel von Bockelmann, Vice President easySPEAK 1

Claribel is a scientist born in Venezuela. After getting her PhD in the USA, she relocated to Germany where she works as Product manager for an international wholesale company. In August 2018 she joined the Duesseldorfer Toastmasters with the objective to improve her public speaking skills. From the Duesseldorfer Toastmasters she especially enjoys the diversity of the members and the numerous possibilities to learn and to network.



Sadayappan Murugesan, Vice President easySPEAK 2

Sadayappan is a Computer Science Engineer by profession and works as a Senior Manager implementing software products for retailers in Europe/Asia Pacific. He is an avid lover of the Toastmasters movement and has been a member of Toastmasters clubs in 3 countries. Saday has been living in Düsseldorf, Germany with his family since moving to Germany in 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction books. Saday appreciates the welcoming nature of the Düsseldorf Toasmasters club and considers it a perfect platform to improve communication and leadership skills. In addition, the club is an ideal place for him to work on his German language skills.