Academy for Public Speaking – President & Founder

Academy for Public Speaking Founder and President Kathleen Petrone, Distinguished Toastmaster

Kathleen Petrone, Distinguished Toastmaster

I created the Academy for Public Speaking in 2010 to empower children to become confident, effective communicators and leaders.

The most important lesson we teach is your voice is a powerful tool you can use to change the world.

I have always been a huge fan of the educational process whether I’m inspiring others or learning something myself. It is a shame public speaking skills are not taught or more heavily emphasized in school. After all when it comes to successful communication, confidence is key!

“You give one of the best gifts in our kids’ lives! To be able to speak in front of many people with confidence, pride, strong leadership, and a positive attitude. What an inspiration you give to our children – to be able to express their thoughts and feelings without any fear.”   (Natalya Abramovich, Parent)

Public & Private School Educator for 11 Years, 1997-2008

4th Grade Classroom Teacher

7th & 8th Grade Reading Specialist

3rd-5th Grade Special Day Class (SDC) Teacher

6th-8th Grade SDC Teacher & Resource Specialist

Teaching Credentials & Degrees

Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Emphasis, 1997

Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, Pre-K – 8th, 1997

Master’s Degree in Reading Education, 2000

Reading Specialist Credential, Pre-K – 12th, 2003

Crosscultural, Language, & Academic Development Certificate, 2003

Education Specialist Credential, Pre-K – 12th, 2004


Confidence is Key! 12 Amazing Ways Public Speaking Empowers Your Child, 2014

Public Speaking: From Painful to Powerful, 2014

Rise & Shine! Making the Most of Life’s Opportunities, 2014

Imagine Wisdom Education, Contributing Author, 2014

Next Level Speaking – Excelsior Toastmasters, Contributing Author, 2014

Community Service

Judge, Miss Carlsbad Scholarship Pageant, 2016

Public Speaking Seminar, Miss Poway Pageant Contestants, 2015-2017

Public Speaking Contest Chair, North South Foundation, 2014-2017

Presenter, Allied Gardens Optimist Club, 2015

Judge, Lions Club Student Speakers Contest, 2014-2015

Public Speaking Seminar, Project Concern International, 2014-2015

Speech & Debate Judge, Torrey Pines High School, 2014

Presenter, Girl Scouts of America, 2014

Special Guest Speaker, Altrusa International, 2013

Public Speaking Seminar, Teen Volunteers in Action, 2012

Speechmasters Program Instructor, Carmel Creek Elementary, 2010-2011

Carmel Valley Youth Leadership Program Instructor & Coordinator, 2010

Toastmasters District & Club Officer Roles

Area 24 Governor – Carmel Valley, 2010-2011

Former President of Hi-Fi Speakers in Carmel Valley, 2010

Former Vice President Membership of Hi-Fi Speakers in Carmel Valley, 2009

Toastmasters Awards & Achievements

Distinguished Toastmaster Award, Fall 2011

Toastmasters Leadership & Communication Expo Seminar Presenter – Discovering & Living Your Soul Purpose, Summer 2013 & Fall 2014

Toastmasters District 5 Blog Talk Radio Guest – 7 Insanely Successful Keynotes, Summer 2013

Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2014, Area 24 – 3rd Place

Torrey Pines Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2014 – 2nd Place

Excelsior Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2014, 3rd Place

Torrey Pines Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest Fall 2013 – 2nd Place

Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2013, Area 24 – 2nd Place

Torrey Pines Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2013 – 2nd Place

Excelsior Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2013 – 2nd Place

Toastmasters Tall Tales Contest Fall 2012, Area 24 – 2nd Place

Torrey Pines Toastmasters Tall Tales Speech Contest Fall 2012 – 1st Place

Excelsior Toastmasters Tall Tales Speech Contest Fall 2012 – 1st Place

Southern Division International Speech Contest Spring 2012 – 2nd Place

Toastmasters International Speech Contest Spring 2012, Area 9 – 1st Place

Torrey Pines Toastmasters International Speech Contest 2012 – 1st Place

Excelsior Toastmasters International Speech Contest 2012 – 3rd Place

Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest Fall 2011, Area 24 – 1st Place

Torrey Pines Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest Fall 2011 – 1st Place

Excelsior Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest Fall 2011 – 2nd Place

Toastmasters Evaluation Contest Spring 2010, Area 24 – 2nd Place

Hi-Fi Speakers Toastmasters Evaluation Contest Spring 2010 – 1st Place

International Speech Contest Spring 2010, Area 24 – Contestant

Jim Tucker – Courses & Summer Camp

Academy for Public Speaking Instructor Jim Tucker, Distinguished Toastmaster

Jim Tucker, Distinguished Toastmaster

I am passionate about speaking. It changed my life. I was the quiet and reserved person who preferred to listen rather than speak. I soon discovered that strategy is ineffective in a job where selling myself and my ideas is essential for success.

Fortunately, a supervisor introduced me to his Toastmasters club. This club provided weekly meetings where I was able to gain the speaking and leadership training needed to overcome my speaking anxiety. I have since gained an appreciation of the importance of effective communication in personal and professional environments.

I am one of many who wishes they could have pursued this training at an earlier age. Today, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to assist others in doing just that.

Public Speaking Experience & Achievements

Contestant in the Final Level of the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking – 2002, 2003, 2004

Keynote Speaker, Toastmasters Districts 3, 4, 5, 9, 12 and 52 Conferences

Keynote Speaker, MV-90 Software Conferences and Itron Conferences

Presenter, Toastmasters Leadership Institute and Leadership & Communication Expo

Speaking & Media Coaching Training Team, San Diego Chargers Girls

Distinguished Toastmaster Award, Former Area 9 Governor & Club President

Judge, Optimist and Golden Gavel Speech Contests


Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Graduate & Graduate Assistant

Stand-Up Comedian

Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering, Certificate in Commercial Design


SDG&E Energy Speaker Corps, Conducted Public Speaking Workshops

Past Chairman, SDG&E Young Engineers Club and IEEE Power Engineering Society

Senior Electrical & Registered Professional Engineer, California

Former Partner & Engineering Manager

Community Service

Past Junior Achievement Advisor, Past Member Rotary & Kiwanis Clubs

Past Board Member, Our Center of Self Esteem, Elementary Institute of Science, and San Diego Engineering Society

Past President, San Diego Council of Black Engineers & Scientists

Past Chairman, San Diego Coalition of Black Organizations

Announcer, Annual Mother Goose Parade


Published Author, The Heart of a Mother and The Heart of the Holidays Book Series

Contributing Author, Confidence is Key! 12 Amazing Ways Public Speaking Empowers Your Child

Published Cartoonist

Norman Nomura – Courses & Summer Camp

Academy for Public Speaking Instructor Norman Nomura

Norman Nomura, Distinguished Toastmaster

I spent my early years trying not to stand out and was more intent just trying to fit in. I was quiet and reserved. It may have been cultural, but it was evident my lack of communication skill would not serve me well in my adult life. In college I was content sitting in a lab by myself staring into a microscope. It wasn’t until I entered the working world that I realized my lack of communication skills was hindering my advancement.

After joining the Toastmasters organization, I was able to come out of my shell and learn the communication skills that changed my life. A friend encouraged me to enter speech contests. Over the years, through the contest venue, I’ve become a better public speaker and found some success in contests. The main benefit was the skills learned gave me confidence that not only improved my communication from a stage, but more importantly, improved my communication on a personal level with family, friends, and colleagues.

Today, I am happy to say I’ve “found my voice.” The power of public speaking allows me to not only communicate with others, but to better voice the passions that live inside me. To me, this is the true value of learning this life-changing skill. Not only can you change your life, but you are able to change the lives of others through your words. I appreciate this opportunity to teach this valuable life skill to the young people of America.

Toastmasters Achievements & Awards

Distinguished Toastmaster Award, 2011

World Championship of Public Speaking Semifinalist, 2011

District 5 International Speech Contest, 2007 – 1st

Region 12 International Speech Contest 2007 – 3rd

District 5 Humorous Speech Contest 2007 – 1st

District 5 International Speech Contest 2008 – 2nd

District 5 International Speech Contest 2009 – 3rd

District 5 Humorous Speech Contest 2010 – 1st

District 5 International Speech Contest 2011 – 1st

District 5 Humorous Speech Contest 2012 – 3rd

District 5 Evaluation Contest – 2012 Finalist

District 5 International Speech Contest 2013 -2nd

District 5 International Speech Contest 2015 – 2nd

District 5 International Speech Contest 2016 – 3rd

Leadership & Community Service

Presenter Toastmasters Leadership Institute 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015

Presenter Leadership and Communication Expo, 2013

Toastmasters Area 23 Governor, 2003

Toastmasters District 5 Membership Chair

Past President, Poway/Black Mountain Toastmasters

Past President, Excelsior Toastmasters

Past President, Felicita Humor Toastmasters

Past VP Membership, Professional Women’s Toastmasters

On Stage

Improv Performer:

Off the Cuff – Patio Playhouse Escondido

Funny Things Improv – Broadway Theater Vista


Golden Idol 2015 – 1st Place


Mother Goose Parade – El Cajon

4th of July Parade – Oceanside


Entrepreneur, Consultant & Speech Coach


BS Biological Science – UCI 1976

MS Biological Science – CSCLB 1980

Jessica Arredondo – Level 1 & Advanced Courses

Teen Speaking Skills Instructor Jessica Arredondo

Jessica Arredondo

From a young age, I valued academics and furthering my education. Whether it was participating in spelling bees or playing an instrument, there were many things to learn.

It wasn’t until college that I finally found my voice and the difference using it could make in the world. I didn’t realize I had so much to say until I finally started really using my voice.

While at San Diego State University, I had many opportunities to succeed as a public speaker and a leader. Through community outreach programs I spoke to college students about challenges related to public health. During my senior year I was asked to speak to 3,000 students to share my experiences and inspire them to make the most of their college years.

Now I take pride in helping young children find their voices before they get to college. Although I’m thankful I discovered my voice when I did, how much more beneficial would it have been to learn to confidently express myself earlier in life? Having the confidence to speak in front of others is an invaluable skill for achieving success and happiness.

Educator, Narrator & Tour Guide at SeaWorld, San Diego

Peer Health Educator & Speaker, San Diego State University

Academic Tutor & Resident Advisor, San Diego State University

Dean’s List, San Diego State University

Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society

Certified Academic Tutor – Varsity Tutors, San Diego

Science Summer Camp Counselor – Blue Sky Meadow

Hanrui Zhang – Courses & Summer Camp

Academy for Public Speaking Instructor Hanrui Zhang

Hanrui Zhang

I can relive my tragic, first ever public speaking experience like it was yesterday. It was a mandatory graduation style speech in 6th grade, and I had my notes on an index card with a pen. As I looked down at my note card when I found my place in front of the class, my notes had smeared illegibly from my sweaty, nervous 6th grader hands, and I felt exposed with the eyes of my entire class on me.

Thankfully, the Academy for Public Speaking gave me a proper and mature way to convey my ideas and express my feelings. It immersed me in an environment in which everyone else was just as enthusiastic about speaking as I was. The skills I learned from the Academy for Public Speaking allowed me to compete in Speech and Debate and Mock Trial events in high school, as well as many extracurricular oratorical competitions with great success.

As a Business Administration major at the University of San Francisco, my public speaking skills have continued to be an important aspect of my life as a professional. I am a coach at the Speaking Center at USF. I coach students around campus who need help with speech brainstorming, writing, and delivery. Additionally, I present an hour long Visual Aids Workshop in which I describe how to effectively use visual aids for any style of presentation.

I am incredibly thankful for the knowledge and opportunities that Kathleen Petrone and the Academy for Public Speaking have provided me with. I can’t wait to keep expanding upon my skills in the future and helping others improve their skills as well.

Public Speaking Experience

Speaking Center Coach, University of San Francisco, 2017

Debate Course Teacher & Coach, Academy for Public Speaking, 2016

Summer Camp Assistant, Academy for Public Speaking, 2015

Guest Speaker & Graduation Judge, Academy for Public Speaking, 2012-16

Masters Level Graduate, Academy for Public Speaking, 2011

Pre-Trial Attorney for Mock Trial, Torrey Pines High School, 2015-16

Lincoln Douglas Debater, Torrey Pines High School, 2012-15

Public Speaking Achievements

Optimist Club Oratorical Contest District Champion & $2,500 Scholarship Recipient, 2014

Optimist Club Oratorical Club & Zone Contests, 1st & 2nd, 2011-14

Lions Club Student Speaker Contest – 1st Place, 2014 & 2015

Lions Club Student Speaker Contest – 2nd Place, 2013


University of San Francisco, Business Administration Major

Jeff Mason – Level 1 & Advanced Courses

Academy for Public Speaking Instructor Jeff Mason

Jeff Mason

During high school, a teacher offered to help me with college applications. “Good grades aren’t enough,” he told me. “To get into the Ivy League schools or Stanford, you need more.” He encouraged me, among other things, to enter a speech contest, and he taught me how to write and deliver a speech.

I will never know what part, if any, winning speech contests played in my being admitted to Stanford, but I know that what I learned from that experience has positively influenced and enhanced my life. It helped me in high school, college, law school, as a lawyer for more than 30 years, and as a teacher.

I am, therefore, pleased to help young students gain the many benefits of learning how to speak confidently to adults, in front of classmates, and before whatever audience they may find themselves.

Teacher, Grades K-8th, San Diego City Schools

English & World History Teacher, 7th Grade, Thurgood Marshall Middle School

English, Social Science, & California Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials

Board of Trustees – Francis Parker School, 10 Years, President for 3 Terms

Lions Club Speech Contests, 1st Place Winner – Club, District & Regional Levels

Hilmer Oehlman Jr. Award for Oral Advocacy

Marion Rice Kirkwood Moot Court Competition Oral Advocacy– 1st Place

Stanford University & Stanford Law School Graduate

Lawyer – State & Federal Courts at all Levels, including the Supreme Court

United States Army – Judge Advocate Officer and Military Judge

Masters Class, Private Courses & Coaching

Academy for Public Speaking Founder and President Kathleen Petrone, Distinguished Toastmaster

Kathleen Petrone, Distinguished Toastmaster

Academy for Public Speaking President & Founder Kathleen Petrone offers personal coaching sessions for children and adults and teaches the masters class and private courses.

“I love helping children and adults who have mastered the basics take their public speaking skills and confidence to the next level to achieve their goals! At the advanced and masters levels, students have so much fun expressing themselves and unleashing their creativity.”

Kathleen also offers private coaching sessions to help children and adults prepare for presentations, pageants, interviews, and speech contests.

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