Gary King was an Air Force brat in every sense of the phrase. Three weeks after he was born at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California, the family moved to another base and he lived in five different states and two different countries before his 12th birthday.

Oddly enough, King’s life in New Mexico — a state with three Air Force bases — had nothing to do with the military branch. King, a Santa Fe resident, came to the Land of Enchantment after his parents up and his mom saw a flyer to work at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque in 1968. He is now retired from the state and spends free time as a driver for both Uber and Lyft.

King, CC, CL, eventually found Toastmasters and will serve District 23 this year as the Division A Director. He oversees a division that covers New Mexico north of Interstate 40, with members working to extend its reach into southern Colorado. His plans are to, “Delegate, delegate, delegate and help other people’s dreams come true.”

He is a member of Santa Fe’s Oh Piñon Toastmasters.

What was it that kept you coming back to meetings?

The friendship and everything getting started correctly. We had a good rapport with everyone in the club.

How are you using your Toastmasters skills outside of the organization?

Every single day. I’m actually shy. With Toastmasters, I’ve been able to crack out of that shell. I go to an orphanage once a month in Mexico, visit a local prison once a week and do a mission with elderly people at a place called Pacifica. In each place, I have to speak, and I have to emote and draw them into the story line. Everything about Toastmasters helps you do that.

What was the light-switch moment where you realized what you did in Toastmasters had a tangible effect on what you did outside of Toastmasters?

That started very early on. I was working for the state. It was almost immediate when I found Toastmasters helped me communicate with the people in my own work group. What I did throughout my tenure with the Environment Department was basically art — drawing, business cards, the website, everything in between. You had to be as personable with people as possible (to figure out what they wanted conceptually), Toastmasters helped so much in the conversations I could have, in just easing my mind and being more myself and less skittish. It allowed me to open up.

If you could go back in time and see yourself attending that first meeting, what would you tell yourself?

Stick to the manuals, absolutely. Fill them out and get them done. Make sure you come prepared every single time.

What would you like to do with this office in the coming year?

Just to continue what we’ve been doing. Grow the clubs, make sure everybody is welcome at every meeting. The clubs run themselves in a professional manner, but it’s fun. You want to give people the tools to accelerate. What they want out of it is what we want to give them. I want to support the area directors and club presidents.