Program Reports

The program write ups as they appear in the meeting bulletins.

Program Report: Fred Annand – The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy in North Carolina: A Bird’s Eye View of Conservation

Lynn Richardson, a lifelong member of the Nature Conservancy, introduced Fred Annand who is Director of Conservation Resources for this non-profit organization whose mission is to “protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.”  Lynn pointed out that coincidentally Rotary International has begun taking a keen interest in environmental issues.  Fred has worked for thirty-seven years with the Nature Conservancy in North Carolina.

Founded in the late 1940’s in the United States and with chapters in all fifty states, the Nature Conservancy has evolved into a global organization with more than a million members and with projects in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and elsewhere.  Fred points out that the work of the Conservancy has been grounded in science with about 600 current staff members bringing scientific backgrounds to their work.

In North Carolina, some 700,000 acres are protected by the Nature Conservancy working with individuals, corporations such as the giant landowner Georgia-Pacific and federal agencies including the Department of Defense.

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Program Report: Tim Whitmire – F3 Nation

The F3 Movement -Fitness, Fellowship and Faith.

At the first sign of puberty I was segregated in school from girls and it stayed that way for the next fourteen years including college and four years of teaching. Through all those years I was playing or coaching football…an all-male activity. During that time, most of my daydreaming was about bonding with the other gender.

So I never gave much thought to male bonding until many years later when I was invited to Durham Rotary and given the chance to rejoin about 15 years ago. At the time I was managing a medium sized real estate office that was all women, except me.  When Paige Wilson invited me to lunch I sat at a table with all men. It wasn’t until I got back to the office that I realized what I had been missing and immediately agreed to join.

Tim Whitmire, one of the co-founders of F3 was introduced by our President, Seth Jernigan, who is also a member of one of the local F3 groups.

The motivation for starting the movement came when Tim and his co-founder left an early morning workout group in Charlotte to found their own when the leader of the original group decided he didn’t want that group to grow anymore. The F3 movement has grown to about 1300 workouts per week and numerous groups, most of which are in the Carolinas but spreading rapidly.

Of the five characteristics that Tim described, the one that seemed to draw the rapt attention of some of the women I was sitting near was that the F3 workouts are men only. It did seem a little retro at a time when we had a women candidate garner more votes in the presidential election than any man or woman had ever done before. Tim was apparently asked about this before and pointed out that there were also groups of women (See Females in Action – FiAnation) doing the same thing.

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Program Report: Andy Esser Advocates the Basics in Market Update

Long-time members know fellow Rotarian Andy Esser plays a mean piano and sings like champ when called to service to help open club meetings.

At Monday lunch, they learned by way of an introduction from Steed Rollins that Esser is married with two daughters, holds platinum academic credentials, has a law degree and is active in local leadership at the Boy Scouts.  (Add the great head of hair and it begins to get annoying.)

Esser, a financial advisor at national financial services firm Edward Jones, combined an optimistic long-term view of global market opportunities with traditional strategic investment advice during a market-update presentation.

“The market is not crazy overvalued right now, though it is still at an all-time,” Esser said during a detailed powerpoint presentation that acknowledged 284 percent growth in value since its March 2009 low. “There are still some bargains to be had.” [Read more…]

Program Report: Tom Bonfield – State of the City

What’s Next for Durham? What to Watch for in 2018

The agenda for the Monday, November 13 Downtown Durham Rotary Club meeting was packed, as was the PNC Club at the DBAP, so club president Seth Jernigan cut short his introduction of City Manager and fellow Rotarian Tom Bonfield to allow as much time as possible for his presentation.

Bonfield jumped right into the results of the recent election, noting the outcomes represent the most significant change in the Durham City Council since council was reduced from 13 to 7 members in 2001. The transition from 16 years of outstanding leadership by Mayor Bill Bell as the gavel is passed on to council member Steve Schewel will have the community’s full attention.

Bonfield recognized fellow Rotarian Cora Cole-McFadden, thanking her and congratulating her on a successful career in public office that has spanned 16 years. She was the first African-American woman to lead a city department, as well as the first to serve as the council’s mayor pro-tem.

He pointed out that with three newly elected members (DeDreana Freeman, Ward I; Mark-Anthony Middleton, Ward 2; and Vernetta Alston, Ward 3) plus a new appointee to fill Schewel’s place, there could be as many as four council members venturing into public office for the first time. They will join current at-large members Charlie Reece and Jillian Johnson; Reece will become the senior member with just two years of service under his belt when the new members are sworn in December 4.

“There’s an enormous amount of information to be absorbed,” Bonfield cautioned. “Policy, direction, actions – there are consistent themes that emerged during the election, big challenges for our community that cannot be addressed in the short term.”

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Program Report: Duke President Vincent Price

Duke’s tenth president, Vincent Price, was introduced to a full Rotarian house on Monday November 7 by Dr. Phail Wynn Jr., Duke’s V-P for Durham and Regional Affairs (“Doing good in the neighborhood”).  Dr. Price comes to us from the University of Pennsylvania, where was Provost.  Before going to Penn, Price was at the University of Michigan, where he headed up the Department of Communication Studies.  His short 1992 book Public Opinion is a summary of the difficulties in tying down this tricky concept.  He recently taught on the role of online communication and how the media frame political issues. He has advised the online teaching company Coursera.

Dr. Price explained how delighted he was to be at Duke at the end of a successful fund-raising campaign: Duke Forward, the largest campaign in Duke University history, has concluded by raising $3.85 billion over the past seven years.

But Price’s biggest surprise seemed to be the city of Durham and its people.  He was taken on a tour that was supposed to cover both Duke and Durham but, Durham took the lion’s share of the time.  He was much impressed with the enthusiasm of Durhamites and the many entrepreneurial innovations to be found in a town once better known for other things (like the odor of tobacco, still missed by some, and the lacrosse debacle, regretted by many).  He especially appreciated the number of dog-lovers in Durham.  (Possibly our large number of dogs is related to the many trees – which have also impressed Dr. Price.  But on this matter, he did not speculate.)

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Program Report: Dave Kirkpatrick – Impact Investing


At the end of the day is a terrible cliché.

But Durham investment guru Dave Kirkpatrick closed his briefing Monday on positive impact investing with a literal reference to the end of the day, when one goes to sleep at night, or attempts to.

For at least some hard-charging investors, sleep might sometimes prove elusive. What’s that hard-earned investment dollar really enabling?

At lunch, Kirkpatrick presented a pathway to investing well and sleeping well with a profit.

And in so doing, he outlined the impressive growth and national success of SJF Ventures, a locally based positive impact growth equity fund where he is a managing director and co-founder. The growing company now operates from offices in Durham, New York, and San Francisco, among other cities. It has big-time partnerships and a book of portfolio companies that are amassing a goodly number of investor checks.

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