A H I S T O R Y
Business Associates, better known as DBA Toastmasters, is one of the oldest and most active Toastmasters clubs
in Hawaii history. DBA Toastmasters was originally founded on April 1,
1956. At that time, the club was called YBA Toastmasters, which stood for Young
Buddhist Association. The club was known as YBA Toastmasters for over thirty
In 1987, YBA Toastmasters and Tamarind Park Toastmasters
began meeting together. Tamarind Park Toastmasters was named after the location
where the club met, Tamarind Park. At that time, both clubs each had about 6-8
members. After meeting for a few months, the clubs decided to merge and keep
the older charter of YBA (1956).
When the clubs merged, the members agreed that
they needed a new name for the club. Several names were considered until future
club president Nelson Nakagawa proposed Downtown Business Associates, or DBA
Toastmasters. This new name stuck, and it continued the abbreviated name
tradition of the original YBA. The new name also was a more accurate
representation of the clubs members at the time, who met in Downtown Honolulu
at the American Savings Bank building.
In 1997, computer science professor and DBA member
Richard Halverson created the DBA Toastmasters website at https://dbatoastmasters.com.
As VP of Education, Richard realized how much work it was to schedule weekly
meetings. At the time, all
scheduling was done manually and over the phone. This provided the
motivation to automate meeting scheduling. The website also pioneered a unique scheduling and notification system,
that automatically creates meeting agendas three weeks in advance and
auto-assigns members to the various meeting roles.
the time, the club was struggling to attract new members, but the website proved to be a major game changer. DBA
Toastmasters began attracting guests to its weekly meetings on a regular basis,
a tradition that continues to this day. When the website launched in 1997, one
member commented, "But not everyone has email."
Notable members of DBA Toastmasters include:
Wendy 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 was originally with
Tamarind Park 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 has competed
in a number of District 49 speech contests.
Annabel Chotzen 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 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, and went on to become
well known throughout District 49.
Former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue was also a
members 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 the club
has achieved this esteemed status.
In 2020, DBA Toastmasters 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.
DBA Toastmasters continues to meet in Downtown
Honolulu every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00pm. The current meeting location
details and weekly agenda can be found on our website at https://dbatoastmasters.com.
If you have not had the pleasure of visiting our
wonderful club, please join us!