News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

New Member- Michael Morris

224newmemberwebMichael Aubrey Morris is from Boston, MA. He graduated from Wesleyan University Connecticut where he earned his B.A. in English. After college, he joined the management team at NYNEX in Boston where he was a key player in the Finance and Comptrollers Division. He served in that role for five years before leaving to enter fulltime ministry.

Michael and his wife Djenne (pronounced Jen-A) led the Roxbury/international ministry within the Boston Church of Christ in downtown Boston for 6 years. However, after thebirth of their deaf/blind, and multi- handicapped son Malik, he transitioning back to the corporate world where he held several positions in management, account development, sales and business development.

To help Malik grow outside the harsh weather conditions of the northeast, and for an overall improvement in “quality of life”, Michael Djenne and their three children moved to the warmer climate of North Carolina in 2004. Michael and his wife Djenne have been married for 22 years have three children in school. 1) Imani (19) a freshman at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Texas, 2) Malik (18) attends Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf in Wilson; and Zakiya(13) a 7th grader at East Wake Middle School.

Currently, Michael is the Sales Manager for TheeDesign Studio – which holds the 2013 award from Indy Week as the “Best Website design company” in the Triangle.

Michael remains active in ministry and serves as Deacon of Special Needs at the Brooks Avenue Church of Christ ( where he and his family help lead the Annual Community Carnival for Special Needs Children and their families.

Michael enjoys bible study, fatherhood, jazz music, all types of digital technology, advertising, dining out, tennis, golf, basketball, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Michael was introduced to the Club by his sponsor, Immediate Past President Don Stanger.

Program Report: Durham Central Park – Ann Alexander

AnnAlexanderDCPwebSpring-like weather over the past few days certainly set the stage for Executive Director Ann Alexander’s presentation about Durham Central Park (DCP). Those of us weary of the recent bone-chilling cold and lingering snow were more than ready to hear about the park’s history, as well as plans for its future.

Alexander opened her presentation with a humorous look at “what we are NOT: The Farmer’s Market, Durham Central Market, or the Central Park School for Children. I think we had the name first.” The organization has an annual operating budget of approximately $100,000 in support of its mission to create and sustain a unique urban park to engage the Durham community.

Thirty board members pitch in and help with everything from fundraising to pulling weeds on the five-acre plot. There are numerous public art pieces arranged throughout the park, all created by local artists. The Grace Garden offers a placid, shady spot for rest or contemplation, and numerous climbing structures for kids (“well loved,” says Alexander with a smile) are arranged along the meandering walkways. “The City of Durham cuts the grass and picks up trash, but otherwise we’re self-funded,” Alexander says. DCP engages in three primary areas to generate revenue: renting the facilities for weddings or other events (DCP is the landlord that rents the pavilion area to the Farmer’s Market); the wildly successful “Meals from the Market” program; and its Cardinal Campaign, which solicits donations to the organization.

The vision for DCP began in 1993, when local businessmen Curtis Eshelman and Allen Wilcox hatched the idea for a shareable downtown green space. Meetings with Downtown Durham Inc. and design charettes followed, and by 1998 the property acquisition was complete. Beginning in 2002, events and facilities at the park expanded rapidly, from the first Independence Day Parade, to the construction of the Liberty Arts Pavilion, to the popular skate park built with help from the City of Durham. In 2010, DCP polled citizens about what they would like to see in the urban greenspace; response was enthusiastic with requests for water features, benches, shady nooks, and more kid-friendly structures.

“So Wanderland, our ‘next big thing’, was born,” Alexander says. “We partnered with local architect Ellen Cassilly and her design-build students at NCSU in designing The Leaf, a shaded performance area.” In 2012, the first food truck rodeo proved to be enormously successful, prompting DCP to schedule five rodeos this year (the next one is scheduled for Saturday, March 9 from noon – 4 p.m.)

Alexander notes that DCP is currently fundraising for Wanderland Phase II, an interactive child’s play area featuring a climbing mound with slides, sculptural art, amphitheatre seating, and more. The structure will be called Mount Merrill in honor of a former manager at Stone Brothers and Byrd who was a passionate supporter of DCP.

“We are just so thrilled to be a part of all this crazy and wonderful growth in downtown Durham,” Alexander says. “Our community just keeps getting better and better.”

For more information about Durham Central Park including Mount Merrill, food truck rodeos, and how to support the organization, visit

Submitted by Carver Weaver

President Bill is Featured Speaker

BillIngramChapelHillThis picture was sent to us by Nathan Byrd from the Chapel Hill Rotary dinner on Tuesday night where Bill was the featured speaker.

Program Report: Tribute to Howard Clement

HowardwebIn all my years of Rotary I can’t remember a tribute program such as the one organized at this meeting for long time member and Durham City Councilman and community leader, Howard Clement.

The chatter at my table before the program was that with so many politicians in attendance and on the program, that there was no way it was going to end on time. Even Howard, who has famously noted that he believes that politicians should “be seen, be brief and be seated” would sometimes ignore his own advice.  For that reason I was surprised that time was set aside for a Rotary Minute from Dieter Mauch. However, Dieter smartly truncated his moment with a story about how he met Howard at a Bar Association meeting shortly after he began practicing in Durham 25 years ago.

There were a lot of people in the room with their own stories about Howard.  That was illustrated when Mike Woodard, who organized the tribute and served with Howard for 12 years on City Council asked the overflow crowd how many had ever given Howard a ride somewhere. Since Howard hasn’t driven for many years he often must use his vast network of friends to get around. A third to half of the 100+ people in the room raised their hands.

My own story would have gone back at least 25 years much like Dieter’s when the newly formed DDI was trying to develop a marketing plan for downtown development and the little group I was part of recommended focusing on downtown as the city’s “arts and entertainment” district. At the time, this was a stretch since we were relying on the Arts Council, the Carolina Theatre and Brightleaf (which served as a modest restaurant district and probably wouldn’t admit to being part of downtown) was the best we could do. Howard pointed out that we needed more than arts and entertainment. He noted that we needed to attract more than that but quickly recognized how unwieldy and unfocused it would be to promote the area as the arts, office, retail, education, and government district. It took more than a few years for that strategy to finally bear fruit but Howard has been one of the biggest supporters the entire time, Mike Woodard noting that he was the primary public sector leader of downtown revival.

Mike also noted Howard’s important role in housing, transportation, parks and civil rights. Cora Cole-McFadden expanded on this latter role going back to the 60’s when Howard came to Durham from Howard Law School to work at NC Mutual Insurance, long the largest African-American Financial Institution in the country. Howard was often called on the carpet because of his outside activities, there being a delicate balance a growing financial institution had to walk in a world dominated by a white establishment that wasn’t always benevolent. Helping to organize a boycott of downtown stores that Cora Cole-McFadden noted caused almost a million dollar drop in Christmas revenues, does not endear one to the reigning establishment. It might puzzle someone who only recently has gotten to know Howard how he could have been so active in the movement. The man is so charming, friendly, elegant, and humble that he just doesn’t fit stereotypes of the angry black man. However, those traits could very be well be among the reasons that he has been so successful.

The final element of the tribute came from former Mayor Nick Tennyson, the recently appointed Deputy Secretary of Transportation for the state. It reminded me that Howard was a Republican like Nick, although I can’t imagine anyone thinking of him in that context alone these days. Nick focused on Howard’s Rotary connection and linked the Four Way Test to how Howard conducted himself on the City Council. Susan Ross noted last week that her father HC Cranford’s proudest achievement was desegregating Rotary at the District Level. Howard joined our club in July of 1981 and became the first black president of the club in 2000. Nick noted that one decision when he was mayor that he never regretted was asking Howard to be the Mayor pro-tem.

When Howard finally got the microphone himself he characteristically thanked the club, Mike, Cora, Nick, his wife Annie, and all the guests that were there for the tribute. He was delighted that Lois Cranford (HC Cranford’s wife and Susan’s mother) had joined him at his table for lunch. He noted that current city manager and Rotarian Tom Bonfield was one of the best city managers Durham has had in his 30 years on council and admonished Cora Cole-McFadden to take care of him. He was delighted that the tributes were flowing before he died remarking that it was “better to be seen than be viewed.”

We are all looking forward to Howard’s 80th birthday party in March and many more after that.

I confess that it is very difficult to capture the tenor of a tribute ceremony like this in a few words much less get all the details down of a long and distinguished career serving the community. However, I did find an article written for the Durham News by journalist and historian Jim Wise celebrating Howard’s retirement. I urge everyone to read it online. It will only increase your admiration for this remarkable man.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minute: Dieter Mauch

DieterwebIf you have wondered whether people with lots of kids have a hard time remembering their names and birthdays, consider Dieter Mauch’s challenge remembering the names and birthdays of aunts, uncles, and cousins. His father was one of 14 children and his mother one of 13.

His parents emigrated from Germany in the 60’s. His father was a mechanic trained by Volkswagen in Stuttgart. They decided to come to this country because the standard of living for blue-collar workers was much better here than in Germany which was still recovering from World War II. Dieter was 1 year old at the time so in spite of his German name and heritage, in his words, he was a “typical American kid” who grew up in western North Carolina.

He had a distinguished academic career. He studied at Oxford…well, Oxford elementary school, who were known far and wide as the Fighting Catfish because of the size of the catfish in the Catawba River at Lookout Dam.

He was also involved in the battle of Bunker Hill. Well, that was the name of a high school he attended and these battles were football games.

He was good enough to join the NFL. Well, not that NFL but the National Forensic League, which was the association for competitive speaking in high school. In spite of the small size of the school, they competed all over the state and the south in debate tournaments.

Dieter received an early admission to UNC as a Morehead nominee, which brought him to this area. Although he didn’t attend on a Morehead scholarship, he noted that at the time tuition for a semester was less than $300 which he could earn working a couple of weeks of construction. While in college he worked in various restaurants including the Western Sizzling where Breadmans is now.  He also worked on the Gallop poll. And then he learned a skill all future lawyers have, curing ham at Mom and Pop’s Ham House.

He went on to attend law school at UNC and clerked for large firms in both Atlanta and Dallas. His first child came along during his last year of law school and because their families where here he and his wife decided to stay put in North Carolina instead of heading to Dallas. This also let him avoid boning up on oil and gas rights to pass the Texas bar.

He was able to land a job with Durham’s Newson Graham Hedrick and Kennon in a Dallas-like skyscraper, our own Green Pickle otherwise known as University Tower. Some may recall that this was built by a Dallas developer with a kid at Duke. Unlike Dallas, as Dieter noted, you can see trees and not just the rooftops of other buildings.  After 5 years with Newsome Graham he became a partner. Nine years later when the firm split into two he joined another firm as a partner but returned to the smaller of the firms that split up and has been with Hedrick Murray Bryson Kennett and Mauch for the past 7 years.

As he should, Dieter bragged a little about his kids. Christopher graduated from UNC in December and Caroline will graduate from law school this May. The kids attended Durham public schools and played tennis at a high level. Both earned scholarships to play at ASU and both were ranked in the top five throughout much of their junior careers.

Although he didn’t mention it, Dieter has been an active Rotarian with the exchange program and lending his time and legal expertise as a board member to things like the recent changes to the bylaws.

Rather than elaborate on those accomplishments, Dieter finished by mentioning his first encounter with the day’s honoree, Howard Clement, which was during his first bar meeting when Howard took the initiative to introduce himself to the rookie lawyer. At former Club member Connie Campanaro’s request, Dieter served 6 years on the board of the Carolina Theatre when they had discussions about communicating the history of the Theatre.  A part of that history was, of course, the segregation  that was prevalent in the south.  Anyone who has seen the video produced by the Theatre knows that Howard was interviewed and integrating the Theatre was one aspect of the civil rights movement that Howard helped lead.

So it was Howard’s day at Rotary but we salute one lawyer ending a distinguished career and another, Dieter, with many years of continued service to the community left to go.

Program Report: Dr. Debra Saunders-White – Chancellor, NCCU


NCCUChancellowebrDr. Debra Saunders-White, the eleventh chancellor of North Carolina Central University, spoke at the most recent club meeting.  She was introduced by club member, Ingrid Wicker-Cree, the university’s Athletic Director.   Before arriving in Durham in the summer 2013, Dr. Saunders-White had a distinguished career in education.

A native of Virginia’s Hampton Roads area, she was a first generation college graduate in her family.  She is especially proud and grateful that she and her three siblings graduated from college without a penny of debt.  Her parents—her mother, a sharecropper’s daughter and her father, a used car salesman—were hard working and thrifty. At home, a college education was never an option.  After earning a B.A. at the University of Virginia, an M.B.A. at The College of William and Mary, and an Ed.D. at The George Washington University, she taught mathematics at a New England school and also doubled as track coach.  From there, she returned to Hampton, Virginia, where she served as Vice President for Technology at Hampton University; later as Vice-Chancellor of Information Technology at UNC-Wilmington; and more recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education.

At NCCU, one of her major goals is to get all students to graduate within four years, preferably three.  This goal includes student-athletes, a remark directed jokingly, but seriously, at Jerry Mack, recently hired football coach at NCCU, who was a club guest.

In her introduction of Saunders-White, Ingrid remarked that the chancellor was such a high-energy leader she wore out a pair of taps on her heels at least once a month.  That energy was evident in her discussion of her goals and ambitions at NCCU.  She exemplifies the school chant: “Eagle Pride—Amplified!” She is proud to be serving a 104-year old university that has been built on trust and service.  In the past year students have performed 200,000 hours of service in the community.

NCCU takes pride that although 76% of its students are on Pell Grants, graduation rates are good—but could be better.  Interestingly, she thinks there are better ways to measure success: to what extent can a university provide a “vulnerable” student with an education that will provide a meaningful livelihood and fulfilling life.

Several benchmarks measure NCCU’s strengths.  Although begun as a liberal arts college, NCCU has had success developing programs in science, technology and mathematics.  One result has been a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.  She noted the success of the Law School that is developing a curriculum in intellectual property.  Adding a personal note, I have heard only praise for NCCU’s School of Library Science.

A question that arises in considering the state of higher education is whether historically black colleges remain relevant.  Saunders-White’s answer is a resounding “Yes!”  They are more relevant today than when Hampton, Tuskegee and, later, NCCU were founded.

                                                                        Submitted by Allen Cronenberg