Vandana Dake is Rotarian-of-the-Year

Although word was out at the annual party at Watts Grocery earlier in June, outgoing President Arthur Rogers made it official at the June 25 meeting: Vandana Dake is Rotarian-of-the-year.

Whatever the club initiative or undertaking, “you’ll see Vandana’s fingerprints all over them, ” Rogers said before presenting her with a silver tray engraved with recognition that she is exhibiting “humanitarian” and “visionary” qualities through extensive service as a Rotarian in projects around the world and around the corner. Dake has devoted her energies, time and talent on behalf of the Peace and Ambassadorial scholarship programs, the Youth Exchange, international humanitarian projects in Venezuela and India, the UK Friendship Exchange, the Open World Russian Exchange, and the GSE Team from France. She has also been active planning projects in Guinea-Bissau and Neal Middle School and helping with the Progressive Dinner. On top of these efforts across the year, she became a Paul Harris Fellow +2. “She is just an amazing inspiration,” Rogers said as attendees gave our honoree a well-deserved standing ovation.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby.

Program Report: Bob Ingram – On the State of RTP and the World

Bob Ingram, the esteemed former GlaxoSmithKline executive and current chairman of the Research Triangle Foundation, laid out some serious – and seriously daunting – challenges facing both Research Triangle Park and the entire nation.

In a rather sobering address, he laid out what the park would have to do to continue to attract innovative companies to our area – and the jobs and economic stimulus that comes with them.

“[RTP] was and is a great place, he said, “but it needs to be updated.”

Much of the new plan focuses on improving quality of life, including improving transportation and adding “a more urban node within the park, with a Starbucks, restaurants, retail.”

The hope is that will help lure smaller companies that could be on the verge of exploding. Bob said that’s the only way RTP will keep up with the Joneses in Boston, Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

“They have major tenants you’ve never heard of, but which will be big,” he said.

“That’s what we’ve got to do.”

He added that such improvements will help retain existing companies. “We want to make the park more attractive for the people who are already there and thank them for their loyalty.” [Read more…]

2012 Community Service Award – Brenda Brodie

The motto for Rotary is “Service Above Self.” The Downtown Rotary Club reserves its highest honor and award to a Non-Rotarian by recognizing one citizen each year that exemplifies this motto.

This year, Dieter Mauch, the Chair of the committee that selects the annual winner, presented the Downtown Durham Rotary Community Service Award to Brenda Barrowclough Brodie.

Ms. Brodie earned the honor for her work in founding SEEDS along with Annice Kenan in 1994 with a mission show people how to care for the earth, themselves and each other through garden based programs in inner city neighborhoods.

The full press release with all the details is available at this link.

While SEEDS is an important program it is only one of many things Ms. Brodie has been involved in. She served on the Board of Trustees of North Carolina Central University for 6 years including a term as Secretary.  She was on the Board of the American Dance Festival for 19 years and President in 1988. She served on the Board of the Durham Arts Council for 14 years and held various offices including President. She is still active with the SarahP. Duke Gardens.

With the Community Service Award, Ms. Brodie was also inducted into the Paul Harris Society and a $1,000 contribution is being  made in her name to the Rotary Foundation.

I first met Brenda casually at a Duke event back in the late 80’s and only found out later that she was married to Keith Brodie, the President of Duke. Frankly I was a little surprised about the connection because she is so unassuming, approachable and even humble, certainly not what I had expected of the president of a prestigious university.  Many years later I got to know her better when I moved to Forest Hillsand became a neighbor. But our most common bond was through another neighbor who became a close mutual friend.

This was a much better vantage point to observe the kindness and unselfishness of both Brenda and Keith and explains why she has quietly worked behind the scenes at SEEDS to help so many people.

I didn’t know before she was nominated for this award that her father had been a Rotarian for 50 years, but it is certainly no surprise because she so exemplifies Service Above Self.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Chicago Tickets Still Available

Tickets are still available but going fast for the Club’s evening at the Durham Performing Arts Center for a performance of Chicago with Christie Brinkley. All the details are here on the calendar for Wednesday August 1. Join the party and help raise money for the Durham Rotary Scholarship fund. 

Paul Harris Fellow: Courtney James

Foundation Chair Andy Barada inducted Rotarian Courtney James into the Paul Harris Society at the club meeting on June 18th. Courtney is a local Realtor and founder of Urban Durham Realty which is rapidly becoming Durham’s premier homegrown residential real estate brokerage firm. Courtney is a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Her husband Luke and their three daughters live in Forest Hills just a bike ride away from her offices in Downtown Durham.

Rotarians become Paul Harris Fellows when their contributions to the Rotary Foundation reach $1,000.

Program Report: Bill Kalkhof and DDI

Rotarian Steed Rollins introduced fellow Rotarian Bill Kalkhof, President of Downtown Durham Inc. for a report on developments in our Downtown.

I’ve reported at least two other presentations Bill has given to the Club and each time I’ve been faced with the same dilemma. Bill delivers so much information in such a rapid fire style that there is no way to capture more than the essence of it in 400 words. So this time I’m not going to even try. Instead I’d like to share a few impressions that may bring some perspective especially for newer residents of Durham and members of the club.

First, I have never heard Bill speak when he didn’t acknowledge that I was on the original board of DDI if he knew I was in the audience even though it has been at least 15 years since I’ve had an active role in the organization. Effective leaders instinctively do a lot of that kind of stuff and Bill is great at it. [Read more…]