Passing the Torch to a New Rotary Foundation Chair

This new Rotary Year begins with new Foundation Leadership. Dallas Stallings recognized the service of Andy Esser as the outgoing Foundation Chair at our Monday meeting.  Andy served three plus years informing our club of the important work of The Rotary Foundation and the Polio Plus programs sponsored by Rotary International.  During the time of his service our club continued to see growth in both of these areas of service. We thank Andy for his faithful service  in this important area of work of the Durham Rotary Club.

At the same time Kay and Wade Grisham, both past presidents were introduced as the new co-chairs of the Foundation Committee.

President Todd Taylor with Kay and Wade Gresham

New Member: Blair Overman

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Blair Overman. Blair was sponsored and inducted by Erik Benson. Below is a little information Blair shared about herself.

Blair Overman’s professional experience centers around community-based organizational development and management. She currently serves as the Program Manager for a new national diversity & inclusion youth initiative with US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport of sailing. Durham is her chosen home and she hails from the Coast of NC, but loves to travel and has lived all over the world.

2019 Year End Celebration

A goodly crowd of Rotarians gathered at the Bull Park for the end-of-year late-afternoon meeting. Meatballs (three types), plus hummus and pita bread and a salad provided an ample repast.

There being no talk, the program consisted of a series of presentations: awards and expressions of appreciation. President Brady Searles began with a series of announcements.

First, Elisabeth Wiener was mentioned again as the Rotary Rookie of the year and then plaudits went to exceptional Sergeant at Arms Caleb Baker, who managed that function almost single handedly all year.

And last but not least, there were exceptionally unruly cheers and whoops for much-loved Executive Secretary Sharon Lassiter.

Team of the Year

[Read more…]

Program Report: Katie Rose Levin _ Leaf and Limb

Club member Katie Rose Levin treated us to a very informative program on the benefits—health, financial and otherwise—enjoyed by communities with healthy trees. She also gave insights into which Durham neighborhoods have more tree canopy than others—and why. Katie was introduced by Marcy Lowe.

Katie is Director of Consulting for Leaf and Limb, a Triangle Tree Service company, founded in 1997 by South African born Colin Camu. Katie’s profile on the company website states her “ah ha” tree moment came while standing in an Amazon rainforest during a rain storm. At that moment, her interests in ethnobotany, herbal medicines, wildlife and the environment converged. “Trees are amazing,” said, and “sometimes, I hug them.”

She came to Duke as a grad student, earning two Master’s degrees in Forestry and Environmental Management. The university hired her as its first Natural Resource Manager, a position she held until joining Leaf and Limb four years later. Along the way, she earned the principal professional arborist certifications.

[Read more…]

Durham 150 – Volunteer to help with the opening ceremonies


The Durham 150 Opening Celebration is on Saturday, April 13 at The American Tobacco Campus from 10 am to 2 pm.  The event is rain or shine, but in cases of extreme weather, the event will be rescheduled to Sunday, April 14 from 12 pm to 4 pm.

We need a number for volunteers to help the event run smoothly and create a positive experience from start to finish.  You are welcome to sign up for as many shifts as you’d like.

Thanks for your time and energy to help make the Durham 150 Opening Celebration a great success!


Program Report: Parks and Rec – Tom Dawson and Jason Jones

I don’t know if it was done on purpose but the previous week’s presentation from Rotarian Ashleigh Bachert about the Durham Sports Commission that she heads, but this week’s presentation from two of the assistant Directors of Durham’s Parks and Recreation department seemed to be the other side of the same coin.

Whereas a good deal of the focus of the Sports Commission is bringing events to the community along with dollars and hotel room nights, the Parks and Recreation Department focuses on Durham citizens. There is considerable overlap however in both the areas of facilities and in programming.

Our speakers, introduced by Danielle Kaspar (pinch hitting for Michael Kriston,) represented the two main arms of the department touching the public directly. The first to speak was Tom Dawson, a landscape architect by training, responsible for Parks and Planning. Jason Jones is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) and responsible for the programs organized for all those facilities. They compose half of the leadership team of the department that is directed by Rhonda Parker and includes Joy Guy, who handles Administration.

Listening to these guys was a bit humbling for me, a guy who has been around a long time here in Durham and a has been jock. I learned a lot. The first surprise was the scope of activities and facilities. 69 Parks? Who knew? 57 Playgrounds, 5 pools on over 2000 acres.

[Read more…]