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.

As a shy child who never raised my hand or volunteered to speak in class, I feel very passionate about empowering children with the gift of confidence and effective communication skills. The most important lesson we teach is your voice is a powerful tool you can use to change the world.

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)

Prior to founding the Academy for Public Speaking I was a classroom teacher for 11 years. I taught 4th grade for 3 years, served as a middle school reading specialist for 1 year, and served as a special day class teacher and resource specialist for students in 3rd-8th grade for 7 years.

As the author of Confidence is Key! 12 Amazing Ways Public Speaking Empowers Your Child, I especially enjoy helping shy students benefit from gaining confidence and effective communication skills.

Jim Tucker

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.

Elise Fanney

Elise Williams

I remember being terrified of giving speeches. I used to dread every speech in school! I would worry the whole week before a presentation, and I wouldn’t even be able to eat on the day of my speech.

When I was in college one speech teacher changed my life.  She helped me push through my fear of public speaking by creating “baby steps” for me to become more comfortable. With a lot of exposure and practice, I grew to enjoy public speaking.  I would still get nervous, but I was able to manage my anxiety much more effectively. I found I really loved being able to speak in front of others, especially about issues I cared about.

With a desire to help others with speech anxiety, I earned a degree in communication with an emphasis in speech anxiety and interpersonal communication. Now I teach public speaking and communication courses at MiraCosta College and Saddleback College. I love helping my college students feel more confident speaking in front of others.

Being able to give a speech and speak confidently are skills my college students wish they would have learned and practiced earlier in life.  I love helping younger children develop these skills too so they can reap all the positive rewards!

Kasey MacNair

Kasey MacNair

Public speaking has given me the opportunity to connect with others in a fun, engaging, and unique way. It has provided me with the tools to be conversational in a variety of settings.

I am passionate about sharing this experience with others through public speaking to find their voices, share their stories, and obtain new skills. As an active member of Toastmasters, I fine-tune my own capabilities while staying current on communication trends and best practices.

One of my greatest joys is watching students gain the confidence needed to deliver a speech, speak up in class, and participate in casual conversations with ease. Watching students transform from being too nervous to speak to being excited to speak is one of the greatest gifts.

Norman Nomura

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 young people.

Jessica Arredondo

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.

Jeff Mason

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.