Welcome, Milt Toby: Incoming ASJA President

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer and chair of ASJA’s Marketing Committee.

It might surprise some to learn that Milt Toby, ASJA’s incoming president who will take office July 1, considers himself an introvert.  And while his ninth book, Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing’s Most Famous Cold Case will be published in July, writing is not his first career. In fact, it’s his “fifth or sixth,” he says. Prior professional forays include serving as a criminal defense attorney representing Death Row inmates in his home state of Kentucky.

Toby began writing in 1972 after earning an undergraduate degree in agriculture. However, he soon realized there weren’t many employment opportunities in his chosen profession, so he took stock of his situation. “I liked show horses,” he says, explaining he grew up around the majestic animal in central Kentucky. He contacted 12 newspapers to inquire whether they needed an equine expert who lacked serious writing credits. Much to his delight, a newspaper in South Carolina took the bit. “They decided it was easier to train someone how to write rather than teach a writer about horses.”

Milt worked there for a year, then returned to his native Kentucky, where he wrote for various horse-related publications, penning books along the way. As a result, he began “looking for a supportive (writers) organization and blundered across ASJA on the internet. I thought it might make a good fit.”

Soon after joining, Toby learned of ASJA’s contracts committee, which has since evolved into the Contracts and Conflicts Committee. He thought his legal background might be useful to the group, so he decided to lend a hand. He was soon asked to chair the committee, a post he held for several years. Toby was then invited to join ASJA’s Board of Directors. Two years ago, he answered the call to run for the organization’s vice-president office, his most recent position.

“A lot of my agreeing to be Vice-President is due to [outgoing ASJA President] Sherry Paprocki. We worked great together. I have been very happy to serve as her second-in-command,” he says.

While ASJA has afforded him the opportunity to meet “some great people,” he admits to wanting to expand his networking skills. While he intends on meeting as many members and attendees as possible at ASJA’s upcoming conference in New York, he also encourages people to introduce themselves to him. “I am excited about this opportunity,” he says.

As ASJA President, Toby has definite goals in mind. Among them is making sure ASJA remains relevant to writers of all genres. “We are a generalist organization, comprised of freelancers who write about a variety of topics. We compete with organizations that cater to niches and need to figure out how to appeal to” all types of writers, regardless of their focus.  

He also wants to keep the organization moving forward as a member-oriented group. Along with conferences in New York and other cities and various regional gatherings, “we have a strong catalogue of virtual networking programs. We also help writers facing unexpected hardship through grants from WEAF [Writer’s Emergency Assistance Fund] and a strong advocacy program aimed at protecting the First Amendment.” ASJA will continue to collaborate with Kellen, the management company with whom the organization has partnered, to ensure the success of these various efforts.

Along with ASJA’s 70th anniversary fundraising campaign, Toby is also looking forward to “a major technology update that will expand ASJA’s educational reach far beyond our current programs.”

Meanwhile, the mild-mannered Southern gentleman who will soon assume ASJA’s presidency has an unpredictable side. “Ask me about being detained and asked to leave two foreign countries.”

Meet Milt and fellow writers, editors and industry VIPS at ASJA’s 70th anniversary gala  on Thursday, May 17. More networking opportunities can be found at Navigate. Motivate. Captivate., ASJA’s annual New York conference Friday and Saturday, May 18-19. And mark your calendar for the Client Connections lottery May 2-7. You must be registered for the conference to enter the lottery.