New Member: Murray Forbes

Erik Benson of the Membership Committee on Monday inducted Murray Forbes to the Club. Murray was sponsored by Past President and Assistant District Governor Susan Ross.

In his own words Murray provided a brief biography.

Originally from Pennsylvania, I moved to Durham to start high school. I lived in Charlotte for close to ten years attending Queens University of Charlotte, obtaining an undergraduate and graduate degree in business. I have lived abroad in China teaching English, and most recently New Zealand, where I was assisting lululemon athletica AUS/NZ business strategy implementation and leading the men’s branding campaign. I moved back to Durham three years ago, received my real estate license three months later and started working for Real Estate Associates, Inc in July 2015.

I’m passionate about the development and wellbeing of our community’s children, education, health and wellness, the environment and sustainability of our planet, the growth and development of Durham, and much more. I’m excited to call Durham my home and I’m ready to serve our people. I look forward to meeting each rotarian in our club in the upcoming months.

Please introduce yourselves and welcome Murray to the Club.

New Member: Melody Robinson

Melody Robinson was inducted as a new member by Erik Benson of the Membership Committee and was sponsored by Mike Priddy.

Melody currently works for Johnson and Johnson and brings over 25 years of diverse healthcare experience serving in policy/advocacy, marketing, and customer management across three industries: pharmaceuticals, wealth management and medical devices with 15 years of healthcare community board leadership.

A native of Ferndale, Michigan, and most recently Scotch Plains, New Jersey, Melody now lives in Chapel Hill and is an Associate Director with Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, reading, baking and hanging out with her two daughters, Malindi and Summer.

Melody is a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati class XXVIII and looks forward to serving as a Rotarian.  She holds a Master of Business Administration from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Hampton University.

Please introduce yourselves to Melody and welcome her to our Club.

Program Report: Deirdre Haj – Full Frame Success and Expansion

Documentary film is taking its proper place in the popular movie going and move-watching market – no question there.  In the words of former club and board member Deirdre Haj, “It’s no longer Broccoli” or as she said at another point Monday at lunch, “It’s no longer two guys talking with a fern behind their head.”

Haj moved to Minneapolis a few years back to enable a big career jump for her husband. She did not leave behind her career in documentary filmmaking as executive director of Durham’s prestigious national festival, Full Frame. Credit modern technology.

Nor did the geographic distance and passage of time erode her enthusiasm for our city and several growing educational outreach projects launched by Full Frame during her time at its helm – here or there. The purpose, as documentary film becomes household fare, is to broaden Full Frame’s local presence and impact beyond its niche in the national film world. And in that case, Haj said, a lot of credit goes to Durham Rotary.

“It really started here with all of you,” Haj said during a Full Frame update. She recalled what she described as the festival’s “inward-focused” position when she joined as executive director in 2010, the year she joined our club. Though prominent in documentary film making space even in 2010, the festival operated four days of each calendar year, she recalled, and appeared to carry the local perception of focus on the outside.

Citing inspiration and support by specific Rotary Club members, Haj outlined the details of community-focused programs that began with the assistance, support and participation of various club members. They have been moved along by energetic, talented staff.

Haj reminded club members how her growing Full Frame team launched outdoor screenings around the Triangle year-round known as the Full Frame Road Show.

“Teach the Teachers,” a program designed to train and certify teachers in ways to best instruct students in the fundamentals of basic film making. “ Teach the Teachers has started to go national, all through Durham,” Haj said.

Among other initiatives, Haj described “School of Docs,” a camp taught by professional filmmakers designed to help students learn the art of filmmaking. In some instances, students have gone onto promising new careers and UNC scholarships. In others, she said, “They may have and discover a talent they didn’t know.”

Ms. Haj was introduced by Rotarian Savannah Lennertz the Senior Development Associate for Full Frame. The Full Frame website is HERE.  Passes go on sale this Wednesday, February 14 at 11:00 AM. Tickets reservations begin on March 21 and the Festival begins on April 5 in Downtown Durham.

(Submitted by Mark Lazenby)

Paul Harris Fellows: Mercer Stanfield and Dave Ross

Foundation Chair Andy Esser presented two Paul Harris awards. The first was to Mercer Stanfield for his Paul Harris Plus 1 and the second to Dave Ross for his Paul Harris Plus 5. Congratulations to both Mercer and Dave for their commitment and service to the Club.

President Seth congratulates Mercer while Andy waits to award the new pin.

Dave accepts congratulations from Andy

New Member: Eddie Blount

Please introduce yourself to new member Eddie Blount who was inducted by Membership Committee member Kay Gresham and sponsored by Steve Hancock.  Here in Eddie’s own words is a little bit about himself.

I grew up in northern California, went to college at BYU, where I met my wife, Janet, who was born and raised in Durham.  We moved to Durham in 1986 and I worked for a few years before going back to finish college at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I received two degrees.

I have been a banker in Durham for nearly 25 years.  In 2006, I helped organize KeySource Commercial Bank, which is now a part of Pinnacle Financial Partners.  My office is in Diamond View II and I serve as the Area Executive over our Durham and Chapel Hill markets.  I have been President of the Durham Jaycees, Durham Arts Council and Croasdaile Country Club.

I have been married for 33 years and have three children.  I am an avid tennis player in my spare time.  I look forward to being a part of Rotary.

Program Report: DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga

Having a 6 year old kid in my household who now is in kindergarten at Hope Valley Elementary makes the quality of our public schools much less abstract, the same way getting mugged makes crime statistics achingly real.

And so, it was not just my lousy hearing that put me on the front row for new Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga’s program.  However, I did bring a little skepticism with me.

We have seen much progress since the merger of the city and county systems in 1992. Nevertheless, the statistics that Dr. Mubenga shared shows that we still have a long way to go. During that time, Durham and the Club have heard from several new superintendents that where hired with high hopes and who promised a strategic plan and great progress.

As Dr. Mubenga pointed out, some of the challenges haven’t changed. Durham has a history of poverty that all the start-ups in the American Underground have barely made a dent in. 67% of the 32 thousand plus students in the system qualify for lunch assistance.  Many of these students still suffer from a legacy of racial segregation that deprived their parents and grandparents of equal education. This is now exacerbated by an influx of families that may speak Spanish at home but with kids must keep up in classes with English speakers.

Three other external forces pull the numbers down. The first is the proliferation of Charter Schools that now siphon over 6,000 students and enormous amounts of money away from DPS.  Often these are students that would raise the average performance of a school. Second, the legislature’s involvement in dictating class size and teacher pay, squeezes resources even more. And finally, technology is requiring a much higher level of education for the jobs that will get someone out of poverty, much less into the middle class.

Like his predecessors, Dr. Mubenga promised a strategic plan soon. But he also provided some reasons why we shouldn’t lose hope of moving the needle significantly towards improvement under his leadership.

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