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About DBA Toastmasters

Downtown Business Associates, better known as DBA Toastmasters, is one of the oldest and most active Toastmasters clubs in Hawaii history. Founded on April 1, 1956, DBA Toastmasters was originally called YBA Toastmasters, which stood for Young Buddhist Association. The club remained YBA Toastmasters for over thirty years.

In 1987, YBA Toastmasters started meeting with Tamarind Park Toastmasters, which derived its name from the location where the club met, Tamarind Park. At that time, both clubs each had about six to eight members. After meeting together for a few months, the two clubs decided to combine forces and continue as one club under the older charter of YBA (1956).

When the clubs merged, the members agreed that they should rename their club. They considered several possibilities until Nelson Nakagawa, who would later serve as a club president, proposed Downtown Business Associates Toastmasters—the current name of the club.  The name more accurately reflected the club's membership at the time, which consisted of professionals who met in Downtown Honolulu at the American Savings Bank building.  In continuing YBA's tradition of abbreviating the club's name, members frequently refer to the club as DBA Toastmasters. 

In 1997, computer science professor and DBA member Richard Halverson created the original DBA Toastmasters website. As VP of Education, Richard realized how much work it took to schedule weekly meetings manually and over the phone. Provided with the motivation to automate this time-consuming process, Richard pioneered a unique scheduling and notification system that  creates meeting agendas three weeks in advance and auto-assigns members to the various meeting roles.  

At the time, the club had struggled to attract new members, but the website proved to be a major game changer. Guests began to attend weekly meetings on a regular basis, a tradition that continues to this day. Funny enough, when the website launched in 1997, one member commented, "But not everyone has email."


Notable members of DBA Toastmasters include:

  • Wendie McAllaster and Leslie Kurisaki, who are the club's longest serving active members who date back to the mid-1980s. Wendy is the only remaining active member from YBA Toastmasters, and Leslie originally started as a member with the Tamarind Park Toastmasters before the clubs merged.

  • Richard Sullivan (since 1994) and James Donnelly, both of whom have served as DBA President twice.

  • Member and former club president Wen He, who has competed in a number of District 49 speech contests.

  • Annabel Chotzen, who was Hawaii Toastmaster of the Year in 1993 and coached Willie Jones to the World Championship of Public Speaking in 1998. Today, she is a professional public speaker.

  • Norman Hirohata-Goto, who was a longtime member of YBA and later DBA Toastmasters. Norman joined Toastmasters when he was a UH student because he wanted to improve his speaking and his pidgin accent; he went on to become well known throughout District 49.

  • Former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue, who was also a member of DBA Toastmasters. He joined the club just prior to his being named Police Chief to improve his public speaking skills.

In 2006, DBA Toastmasters celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a celebration at the exclusive Bayer Estate. The event included many members from the past and present, including several original YBA members.


For DBA's 60th Anniversary in 2016, the club held a celebration at the Ward Buca di Beppo that featured awards, prizes, and Mad Lib Table Topics.


For the 2019 Holiday Party, the club hosted a White Elephant Table Topics meeting, where members all brought random items from their home and wrapped them as gifts, which the unsuspecting recipient opened and had to explain why it was the best gift they had ever received.

In the 2019-2020 club year, DBA Toastmasters achieved the highest recognition in Toastmasters for the fourth year in a row, President's Distinguished Club. It is the seventh time in the past nine years that the club has achieved this esteemed status.

In 2020, Jamie Madriaga updated the DBA Toastmasters' website.  This same year, District 49 held its inaugural "Best Club Website" contest and deemed DBA Toastmasters' site the winner.

In 2020, DBA Toastmasters also began meeting virtually for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The club did not miss a single meeting and continues to meet weekly. Since going virtual, DBA Toastmasters has hosted guests from around the world, from as far afield as Bangladesh, Ireland, Germany, Nepal, and Thailand.

Today, DBA Toastmasters is a diverse club of business professionals who support and encourage each other on their journey to become better public speakers and leaders. It has been the meeting place of many lifelong friends, and where many excellent speeches have been shared.



Kaitlyn Condon, PM3

VP of Education

VP of Membership

James Donnelly, LD5


Pat Gomes


Anne-Kathrin Elisabeth Zehnle
Catherine Madriaga

Christopher Haig

Daniel Taylor

Eileen Zorc
Harvey Rackmil, ACB

Hiroko Manuszewski 
James Smith, MS2

Jamie Madriaga, IP2
John Holman, EC1

Jordan Nakayama, DL1

Joshua Strickler

Judy Esaki

Katie Stula

Karesse Sato
Leslie Kurisaki, CTM
Rebecca M. Weatherford, CC
Richard Sullivan, ACB

Robin Stueber

Rylen Ochiai

Tatiana Quezada, MS3
Tina Y. Bae, DL3

Wen He, ACS, CL, PI2

Wendie McAllaster, ATMB


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