News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

New Member: Lauren Phillips, Sponsored by Rory Gillis

Lauren Phillips, is an Account Representative with The Durham Magazine. Originally from Connecticut, Lauren has been in North Carolina since 2005. Campbell University led Lauren to North Carolina for undergraduate work – and she never left after that. Lauren is excited to meet and grow with Durham and is already dreaming about reestablishing Change The Triangle — a non-profit volunteer + social group that allows people to meet and make new friends. In her free time, Lauren can be found on the quiet back roads on her bike, riding to support various organizations such as The National MS Society and The V Foundation, as well as riding competitively with her race team. Lauren is thrilled to be joining Rotary. She is sponsored by Rory Gillis. Welcome, Lauren!

Passing of the Gavel

A new Rotary year is upon us as is evidenced by the passing of the Presidency from Brady Surles to Todd Taylor. Thank you Brady for your leadership and we are looking forward to the year ahead with President Todd Taylor.

Presentation: Jonathan Mattingly and Gregory Herschlag – Gerrymandering

Determining mathematical algorithms in partisan and racial gerrymandering

If you’re like me, and the title of Monday’s program made you tilt your head like a confused puppy, hang in there. After a visit to Wikipedia to refresh my eighth-grade Civics lessons, I recalled that gerrymandering is “a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries.”

Rob Everett introducing our guest speakers

Actually, the title of Monday’s presentation by Duke mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Gregory Herschlag was “Sampling the Geopolitical Geometry of a State.” Rotarian and incoming board member Rob Everett introduced the pair, and if these are the types of guys Rob hangs out with, he’s clearly a pay grade or two ahead of me.

In the past two presidential elections, much ado has been made in our state accusing politicians of partisan and racial/socioeconomic gerrymandering. The US Constitution grants states and their legislatures primary authority in determining voting districts; however, it is silent on the issue of state legislative redistricting. [Read more…]

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…]

Presentation: Eric Guckian, President & CEO – United Way of the Greater Triangle


Rotarian, Emily Page, introduced Eric Guckian, President & CEO of the United Way of the Greater Triangle. She said that he has been in the position for 2 years. Originally from Rhode Island and the first in his family to earn a college degree, Eric graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in English and earned an M.A. in Education from Harvard.  

 Having begun his career as a science teacher and a Teach for America Corps member in the South Bronx, Eric has played a wide range of leadership roles since his move to North Carolina 20 years ago. Prior to his position with United Way, Eric was Vice President of Alliances for Leadership in Education Equity and was earlier a Senior Advisor on Education in the NC Governor’s office. 

[Read more…]

Presentation: Honorable Michael O’Foghludha

Introduced by Nancy Gordon, Superior Court judge and fellow Rotarian Mike O’Foghludha spoke on the topic of pretrial detention and bail.  This is a topic that has generated considerable discussion nationally and figured prominently in the election for district attorney in Durham last year.  In her introduction, Nancy noted that Mike is an undergraduate alumnus of Duke and a law graduate of UNC.  She also pointed out his law practice and service as a defense lawyer prior to his election to the Superior Court in 2010 was valuable experience.  She noted that Mike is highly respected in the community for his temperament, kindness and compassion. 

 Contrary to popular opinion, Mike pointed out that the crime rate has been falling since the 1980s. defendants have been spending more time in pretrial detention and receiving longer sentences.  This is not only costly but, according to studies, has not been effective in reducing recidivism.  In the U.S. something like $14 billion is spent annually on detention and incarceration.  Durham spends $126 per day per detainee or prisoner.  [Read more…]