Brown Family Scholarship Winner

As her final duty as Chair of the Scholarship Committee, Meg Solera introduced the latest Brown Family Scholarship winner, Justin Gunn. The scholarship was established with funds contributed a long time Rotarian and the father of current Rotarian Judge Craig Brown and benefits students from the Emily K Center.

Justin Gunn has been attending the Pioneer Scholars program (for elementary grade students) and then the Scholars to College program (for high school students) at the Emily K Center since he was in the third grade. He is a graduate of Jordan HS, and will be attending Williams College in Mass. and plans to study Political Science. Williams is always listed as a top five liberal arts college nationally. From left to right in the photo are Judge Brown, Adam Eigenrauch, Ex. Dir. of the Emily K Center, Rotarian Kim Suarez (Development Dir at the Durham Nativity School) and incoming Rotary scholarship liaison to the Emily K Center, Camille Wilson, Emily K Center Associate Director of College Readiness, Justin Gunn, Robin Gunn (mother of recipient),  and Meg Solera.

Adam gave an update of the current fundraising campaign at the Emily K Center and there plans for expansion. Camille updated us on the work of prior Brown Family recipients. Of those who have graduated, one teaches in Texas and is working on her Master’s in Education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, another is a science lab technician, and a third works in Durham at a law office. The rest are on schedule to graduate from college and are doing well. The scholarship has definitely made an impact on the lives of these students and their future career opportunities.

Congratulations to Justin, the dedicated professionals at the Emily K Center, the Scholarship Committee and all those who contributed to this successful program.

New Class of Innovation Fellows 2018

Christopher Gergen on the right introduced the fourth class of Innovation Fellows to the Club.

As a reminder, As a reminder, the Fellowship was proposed and organized by Mr. Gergen and is meant to provide an exceptional leadership development experience for emerging innovators in our community who are striving to make measurable, sustainable and scalable impacts in their respective fields.  It is also an opportunity to emphasize the concept of “inclusive innovation” – welcoming leaders from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods into the Rotary community and the broader Durham leadership network.

New Rotarians and Innovation Fellows Cecilia Polanko, Tobias Rose and Camryn Smith are flanked by President Brady Surles and the left and Mr. Gergen on the right.

New Member: Camryn Smith

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Camryn Smith who was sponsored by Christopher Gergen.

Camryn is the Executive Director for Communities In Partnership, founded in Wake County and now having programs in Durham, Mecklenburg, Forsyth and Pitt Counties.

Communities In Partnership provides direct services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, adults with brain injuries, and adults with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders.

The Communities In Partnership Team is made up of experienced therapists, job coaches, case managers, and other professionals. Camryn is married to Ernest Smith and lives in Durham.

New Member: Tobias Rose

Please welcome and introduce yourself to new member Tobias Rose who was sponsored by Christopher Gergen.

Tobias is the Principal/Owner of Kompleks Creative, located in Downtown Durham, on Parrish Street.  When founding Kompleks Creative, Tobias’ goal was to create a designer-friendly environment that pushed creative limits and brought edgy concepts into otherwise-conservative environments.

At the same time, he wanted to develop a strategic component that would help clients meet their business objectives. As a student at North Carolina Central University, Tobias started Kompleks Creative (formerly known as The Praktis) in his dorm room. He later graduated with a Bachelor’s in Art with a concentration in Visual Communications, and has since served on the Board of Visitors for the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 2012, Tobias received the NCCU Forty Under 40 Award for contributions tothe arts and entrepreneurship. Tobias grew up in Kannapolis North Carolina, and is currently engaged to be married to Chantal Winston.

New Member: Cecilia Polanco – Innovation Fellow

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Ceci Polanco, one of this years class of Innovation Fellows.

At 25, Cecilia Polanco owns and manages So Good Pupusas, a social justice food truck serving Salvadoran pupusas, and their partner non-profit Pupusas for Education, which awards college scholarships for undocumented students.

Born in California to Salvadoran immigrant parents, and raised in Durham, Polanco was the second student to graduate from Durham’s Northern High School as a UNC Chapel Hill Morehead-Cain Scholar in twenty years.

As a recipient in the first class of Global Gap Year Fellowship, Cecilia took a gap year between high school and college to volunteer and travel abroad as a global citizen. Her passions lie within access to higher education, business as a force for good, and advancing racial equity.

Since graduating Carolina in 2016, Cecilia has been a HPJ Fellow with the social justice consulting firm Frontline Solutions, a Smith Fellow for the Southern Foodways Alliance, and a Fellow with the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation.

She is on the board of the Helius Foundation (small business consulting for need-based and entrepreneurs of color), NC SLI (high school honors and college prep program for Latinx youth), the Gap Year Association (national gap year accreditation organization) and serves on the City of Durham Women’s Commission.

Recently she was recognized as a Local Food Hero by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and also works as a facilitator on their Committee on Racial Equity in food systems team.

She hopes to one day open a second truck or restaurant as a platform for community culinary entrepreneurs to start their businesses, and to return to school to obtain a Masters in Business Administration or Education.

Program Report: Sean Wilson – Fullsteam Brewery and the Three C’s

One of the many things that I have come to love about Durham since moving here three years ago is its craft beer tradition! So, I found myself really looking forward to this presentation. Introduced by Rory Gillis, Sean Lilly Wilson, Chief Executive Optimist of Fullsteam did not disappoint.

There are several key dates in his life and business. Sean moved to Durham in 1992 and will celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary this October 23rd. On August 13, 2005 the State of North Carolina “popped the cap” on the alcohol content of beer; raising the legal limit from 6 to 15% after a surprisingly long three year battle that he waged with the state. June 6, 2006 Sean’s wife donated a kidney after Sean became very ill. He is doing fine now. Finally, in 2010 they launched Fullsteam after finding a downtown location that could fit a forklift and hopefully would attract patrons even on a Tuesday night!

The four C’s that govern the business are Craft, Community, Commerce and Competition. Fullsteam’s Craft is North Carolina focused as it strives to build the Southern Farm Economy by using locally grown and foraged ingredients. As their local purchases approach a half a million dollars, they continue to look for more unique ingredients; including some that people may not have heard of. (I only knew of paw-paws in a children’s song.) The first beer that they brewed was a Southern Basil Farmhouse brew. It was an R&D project that turned into a big summer hit.

Community is the choice of Durham as a place of business. Sean Lilly Wilson, loves Durham because of its warm, diverse, welcoming nature. He feels that their location is the front door to Durham. My introduction to Fullsteam came two years ago when a group of us attended “Beer and Hymns” on a Sunday night.

Commerce comes with Fullsteam’s support of the farm and agricultural economy. They support farmers who raise grains for their brews and they support others who process grains to make key ingredients like malt. In addition Fullsteam pays foragers who supply them with things like fresh persimmons. In each case they strive to pay a fair market price. One family who supplies foraged persimmons to them say that it is their “Christmas Money.”

Competition is an increasing factor each year in business. When they started up in 2010 they were unique in what they were doing. Now there are others who are entering the market and they are not so odd any more. They selected an area that would encourage traffic to their location but was still an unusual location for a beverage and food business. That is rapidly changing. So, Sean and his people are conscious of the fact that they can’t stand still. They are doing R&D on new offerings and are looking at ways to stay unique in a  “beautiful – stupid” way. To illustrate his concept of balancing beautiful and stupid, Sean encouraged us all to put August 26th on our calendars for the .262 Marathon – a run that goes just one one-hundredth of a marathon. We might even see a red gorilla!

Submitted by Doug Butler