Program Reports

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

Program Report: Dan Berman – Carolina Theatre

My wife and I have been volunteers at the Carolina Theatre for the past 8 years, as part of a group of over 300 Theatre volunteers.  We have come to love the Carolina as do the other volunteers.  As we worked shows, we became aware of the growing difficulties at the Theatre.  We heard good things about Dan Berman when he became the volunteer CEO in January, 2016, and his speech confirmed the faith many placed in him to put the Theatre on a more solid financial footing.

Rotarian Treat Harvey, Director of Development at the Carolina, introduced Dan Berman, her boss. He was the founder of MainQuad Group, that acquired and operated radio stations in NC and VA.   Treat said “ As a volunteer, every day for 14 and 1/2 months, he has come in to the Theatre as if he were a paid employee, working long hours.    I admire what he has done for the Theatre, taking it from the brink of disaster to a stable organization that continues to provide the best of arts education and entertainment for Durham and beyond.”

Dan’s presentation verified what we read in newspaper accounts.  Financial reports through 2014 indicated two profitable years in a row.  Thus the CEO expanded the number of live events from 68 in 2014 to 108 in 2015.  However, this expansion created a financial crisis with unprofitable shows. The 2015 review showed a a bookkeeping problem, with a net deficit instead of a profit.

Dan says “I anticipated keeping the job until the Theatre’s finances could be stabilized and a new CEO hired – maybe a few months max.  Within a day of starting, it was apparent that things were much worse.”   He immediately put a hold on additional bookings and provided a new business plan to the City.  In March, 2016, the City agreed to a one-time payment of $600,000, if CTD could match this with private donations by June 30, 2017.  This was completed by Thanksgiving, 2016, 7 months ahead of schedule.   Dan’s evaluation is that CTD is now thriving with a reduced net deficit and 14 profitable months in a row.

This has helped CTD develop partners with Duke Performances,  Cat’s Cradle, Motorco,  Full Frame, Art of Cool and Moogfest, as well as continuing to host local organizations.  CTD continues with its award-winning independent film programs and festivals such as the NC Gay + Lesbian Film Festival, the Nevermore Film Festival, the Retro Film Series, and the new Anime-Magic Film Fest that became the highest-grossing film festival in the history of the nonprofit.

In summary, Dan said “CTD has implemented a new business model focused on tightening financial controls, identifying and executing operational efficiencies, quantifying and minimizing risk, and increasing fundraising. This disciplined business approach, combined with innovative and diverse programming choices, strategic partnerships with other presenting organizations and a re-dedication to arts education and community outreach, has transformed CTD – creating a sustainable fiscal model and ensuring its place as a beacon of culture in downtown Durham.”

Submitted by Brady Surles

Program Report: Habitat for Humanity: Home is Where the Heart Is.

From the show of hands at the Monday, March 27 meeting, Habitat for Humanity is an organization that is well-known and supported by Rotarians in our club. Speaker Randy Lanou, co-founder of BuildSense, elicited chuckles from the attendees when he commented, “Well, I can see that promoting Habitat to the Rotary Club is like going hunting at the zoo.”

Many of the hands came down, however, when Lanou asked who knew Habitat’s vision statement. Efficiently and eloquently stated, it consists of just nine words: “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Contrary to the perception of many, Habitat doesn’t give houses away. Potential homeowners have to qualify and demonstrate their commitment to maintain a mortgage on the home, participate in financial training, and contribute hundreds of hours in sweat equity assisting in construction of the house. Since 1985, Durham Habitat has helped over 600 families with housing upfits or new construction. Habitat’s administrative costs are commendably low, with 91 percent of all dollars donated “hitting the ground,” so to speak.

BuildSense, a top-rated full service architecture and construction firm, is one of five local builders partnering with Durham Habitat on this year’s 2017 Builder’s Blitz. Other companies, many of whom had representatives at the meeting, include B. Wallace Design and Construction, Garman Homes, Durham Building Company, and Thayer Homes. This year’s goal is to build five homes in just seven days.

The blitz will begin Friday, June 2, with the dedication of the homes set for Friday, June 9. Durham Habitat is seeking donations to help support the blitz, largely with what Lanou terms “hospitality needs.” Contributions can be a small as $60 – $75 per day (coffee or snacks for the workers) to $500 – $1,000 (lunch for one day or bottled Powerade/Gatorade), and up to $20,000 for the major underwriting sponsorship. Those interested can contact Development Officer Jennifer McFarland at jmcfarland@durhamhabitat.org.

The one-week build schedule is “mildly accelerated,” Lanou says with a wry smile, holding up a spreadsheet to demonstrate the complexity of the ambitious project. “We are very fortunate that these builders contribute their time and labor unselfishly, and subcontractors donate or discount materials whenever possible, from the time the first shovel goes in the dirt through the completion of construction.”

And then there are those enthusiastic Rotarians, who contribute time, money, manpower, womanpower, and kidpower year-round to Habitat builds. Don Stanger, a downtown Rotarian who, along with his wife Bettina, have supported Habitat for years, including major sponsorship of the last Habitat home that the club sponsored.

Lanou showed a time-lapse video from blitzes in 2014 and 2016, when two houses were built on lots in East Central Durham. The sites for this year’s build are close by each other on Angier Avenue and Bingham Street. Habitat keeps a “land bank” of potential building lots, and they choose the sites according to need and suitability of the project.

And while the blitz doesn’t formally begin for another two months, the builders are engaged in intense planning and preparation with their employees and partners, developing an elaborate system of checks and balances in the event of a rare unexpected occurrence – a delivery doesn’t arrive on time, or the product specifications were incorrect, for example. “We are working with subcontractors who we use regularly, and we know we can depend on them,” Lanou explained. “We have committed to working with them on other jobs throughout the year, so we feel very confident about these partnerships.”

He also gave a shout-out to Durham City for their flexibility in building inspections and issuing certificates of occupancy in a timely manner, particularly given the time sensitivity of the building period. The City also makes land donations and helps homeowners secure mortgages at a reasonable rate.

If you’ve never worked a Habitat build before, don’t worry – every work day starts with a safety orientation, and they’ll supply you with plans, tools, and training every step of the way. You can volunteer to help serve meals to the volunteer workers, or make a tax-deductible donation. Whatever way you choose, you’ll be helping eliminate substandard housing and help foster thriving communities in Durham. www.durhamhabitat.org.

Submitted by: Carver C. Weaver

Program Report: Art Pappas – Pappas Ventures

Editor’s note: There were technical problems with the camera and I did not get any photos from Monday’s meeting. OK, it was really my failure to notice that the memory card in the camera was full. Anyway, this picture is from a presentation that Mr. Pappas gave at Wake Forest. I’ll retake the other photos. One of the best pictures was of Mr. Pappas, Don Stanger, who introduced him and Paul Feldman, who was a guest of Past President Stanger and has addressed the club twice before and whose company was helped to launch by Pappas Ventures. www.Pappsventures.com has more about the company.  -JZ

Club member Art Pappas filled us in on the latest developments in his 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries–including Glaxo, Abbott and Dow–and as a venture capital investor in the life sciences.  After leaving Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Art founded a venture capital business in 1994.  Since then Pappas Capital has managed nearly half billion dollars and invested in more than 70 life science companies.  These companies are developing drugs and devices. to combat and treat melanomas, pneumonia, spinal injuries, among other medical problems.

By focusing solely on life science companies, Pappas Ventures has developed expertise in development, clinical trial strategies and networking to find talent and capital.  Of particular interest are startups or established companies whose products have market potential and are ready for phase one or two clinical trials.  Approximately 70 percent of the venture capital is invested in drugs and the remainder in devices and diagnostics.

The Translational Medicine Initiative was created to help university scientists to translate academic projects into viable licensing products or promising startups.  One of these cooperative ventures is with the medical center at Wake Forest.

Art’s passion is developing and mentoring entrepreneurs and helping them build companies that will make significant contributions to the life sciences.

There are two developments or trends that make the life science field so exciting and promising.  One is the phenomenal growth worldwide that shows no sign of abating.  And, second, groundbreaking strides in science, particularly biology.  Another trend Art noted is the increased outsourcing of R&D by major companies.

Conceding that the San Francisco/Palo Alto/Menlo Park and Cambridge areas are the principal hubs of breakthroughs in life sciences, Pappas is convinced that the outlook for North Carolina is bright.

Responding to a question about the FDA that has sometimes been accused of placing roadblocks to approval of drugs and devices, the FDA, in his view has become more transparent and helpful.

He pointed out that Pappas-assisted products approved by the FDA have accounted for several billion dollars in sales over the past five years.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg

Paul Harris Fellows – March 13, 2017

My apologies for one of the worst Paul Harris Fellow photos ever taken. The small version shown here would look very blurry in a larger format and everyone is so spread out except for Marge who is trying to hide. I am especially unhappy about this since these were pretty significant awards. New member Lee Barnes became a Paul Harris Fellow upon joining the club, which is very unusual. Dr. Larry Crane on the left became a PHF Plus 2, while Marge Nordstrom and Reggie Hodges became PHF Plus 1. Andy Esser, Foundation Chairman standing on the right, presented the awards. 


I feel even worse about the picture taken of Past District Governor Newman Aguiar presenting a special recognition to past Chair of the Foundation Committee Ken Lundstrom for his continuing support of the Polio Plus campaign. So this photo is from a few years ago when he was presenting an award.

 

Program Report – Flying Tigers

VALOR, EXPLOITS OF “FLYING TIGERS”  – REMEMBERED BY A TIGER’S APPRECIATIVE SON

It’s a mark of our club’s diversity that at least a few members were alive when the Flying Tigers served first notice from the United States to Imperial Japan that freedom claws back.

Most club members were not yet born as the Second World War swept up Asia, and a small band of volunteer aviators from America helped the Chinese air force slow the advance of Japanese invaders while the free world organized.

But more than a few members, including this week’s correspondent, are old enough to remember building plastic model aircraft of the single-engine, P-40 fighter aircraft that the legendary volunteer force utilized with such elan. Distinctive painted shark faces snarled from the noses of each fighter aircraft.

History came back to life at Monday lunch as Billy McDonald recalled the valor and exploits of the Flying Tigers. McDonald, author of a book that chronicles his late father’s key role as a Flying Tiger organizer and aviator, told Rotarians that tigers played a crucial role in supporting China and keeping Japanese military resources tied down.

“It was a very nice contribution he made to the war,” McDonald said of his heroic father Bill with understatement as he recollected his later father’s longtime friendship and working partnership with the legendary Claire Lee Chennault. Chennault organized and led the Flying Tigers. Chenault once wrote a newspaper op-ed praising the elder McDonald’s skill and bravery and worked closely with McDonald’s father to build the group.

Technically and legally, the aviators were the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941 and 1942. Pilots recruited under presidential authority to be commanded by Chennault came from the United States Army Air Corps, Navy and Marine Corps. They trained in Burma.

McDonald spent much of the presentation describing his father’s early years working with Chenault in aviation, initially in aerial acrobatics. McDonald said that he found his father’s papers, some 30,000 documents brought back from China, badly deteriorated from moisture decades later. The papers included many letters describing the aviation squad’s exploits. He put it into book form with the help of editor Barbara Evenson. The book, “The Shadow Tiger,” is on sale here on Amazon.com.

McDonald described how he Flying Tigers demonstrated needed tactical victories against the advancing Japanese invaders when news from Asia was discouraging. Reports of their daring are credited with building national morale during the lowest period of the war for both the U.S. and Allied forces. The Tigers instilled hope. In addition to combat value, they added value in the PR wars.

The Flying Tigers were in action in Asia just days after the attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and continued the fight into 1942 before being replaced by the U.S. Air Force under the command of General Chennault.

McDonald shared the good recent news that both the book and his heroic father’s paper’s have been requested for posterity by the Smithsonian Institution. He said the Chinese ambassador to Washington created the flying unit’s memorable name.

The club thanks McDonald for recalling the bravery of young American aviators including his father who hit back hard and served first notice to the Axis power in Asia that the fight for freedom would ultimately be joined by the U.S. with ferocious will and fortitude.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

Editor’s note:  Mr. McDonald was introduced by Brady Surles and Scott Long, a member of the Zhuzhou City Committee of Sister Cities of Durham and pictured on the right above with Mark Goodwillie, Co-Chair of the Zhuzhou City Committee on the left flanking Billy McDonald and is wife Nancy McDonald. Here is Brady’s explanation of the connection:

This may sound complicated , but the Flying Tigers story is what started the process of Durham people becoming interested in having a Sister City in China, so I will have to give you some details about the background.

Durham established a Sister City partnership with Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province, China in 2012. This came about because several people in Durham and the Triangle had ties with the history of the American flyers called the Flying Tigers, including making a documentary film in partnership with a Chinese film company.

This connection started with a NC Senator from Moore County who initiated the reciprocal visits in 2006 between Hunan Province and NC to better understand how the Chinese had built ties with Americans , based on their maintaining the burial site of an American Flying Tiger pilot from Moore County who was shot down in Hunan Province.

The Durham film makers visited Hunan Province for their research for their film, in cooperation with the Carolina China Council which is based at NC St University.  This included the Flying Tigers Museum which is in Hunan Province.

This also led them to get to know some Chinese Americans who were from Hunan Province who were interested in having Durham become a Sister City with a city in Hunan Province.

The Carolina China Council assisted us in finding a city in Hunan province which was interested in being a Sister City.

That partnership with Zhuzhou has now included two school visits from China to work with four different schools in Durham,  students and teachers from the School for Creative Studies visiting Zhuzhou, and plans for additional school exchanges.

 

Program Report: Adam Klein – American Underground

Durham Rotary 03 2017–A Klein small The American Underground has done a bang up job of providing a path and encouragement for minorities and women who want to become part of the entrepreneurial movement. But what about us old folks? It’s also admirable that the model has evolved to include physical products and not just software and high tech stuff. And how smart is it to include professional services, which I assume includes lawyers, graphic designers, accountants, and maybe even real estate agents? Check it out on gridworksdurham.com.

But back to us old folks. How many toilets are there in the world? How many guys think it’s more than a little icky to have to lift a toilet seat to do number 1, especially in a restaurant, rest stop, or, God help us, a gas station? What if someone invented a levered device that bolted to the toilet bowl under the seat that would lift the seat out of the way but when in the down position a also provided additional support to rise from the seated position like the arm of a chair without adding those ugly grab bars to the wall?

You have signed the non-disclosure, haven’t you?

Crazy idea maybe, but when Adam Klein, who describes himself as the Chief Strategist of the American Underground, or the Startup Hub of the South, mentioned Feline Innovations’ cat scratching device with replaceable scratch pads as one of the companies participating in the Startup Stampede now in progress, I thought maybe not that crazy. But isn’t that to point…to put together potential entrepreneurs in an environment where they can collaborate and support each other. Anyone that has done product development knows that having a product is often the easiest part of launching a company to sell it.

Case in point, the story of David Baron, the founder of NuggetComfort.com and past member of the American Underground who shared his four-year journey last month to the launch of his product, which is essentially four cushions covered with fabric that configure as a bed or a couch or a fort for the kids. A simple idea maybe but the interesting part was how they improvised the packaging with the help of forklift hydraulics and market it exclusively online.

The idea of having like-minded folks around with experience, however uneven, in things like accounting, marketing, pricing, e-commerce, fund raising, packaging, regulations and dozens of other necessary components that complement the creative process is a big help.

This is the second time that Adam has spoken to us. The first time was in December of 2012. We tend to think about American Underground in terms of what it has meant to Durham and there is no question that it has come a long way and been a major factor in the revitalization of Downtown but we shouldn’t overlook the service it provides for entrepreneurs like David and the impact they have on our city. Some of the key statistics are here from Adam’s Power Point presentation.

This time he was introduced by his friend and our fellow Rotarian Mike Kriston who is a senior vice president at McDonald York Building company. We hope Adam won’t wait another 4 or 5 years to visit again. In fact, maybe Mike can convince him to join. We have our own Innovation Fellows program here that could probably benefit from his experience. The American Underground website is AmericanUnderground.com.

Product number 2 from Bathroom Innovations… how about a gymnastics ring hung from the ceiling for those that would rather pull themselves up than push themselves up from the seated position. Those of you who still have knees that can get you up without help, need to be thinking ahead anyway. By the way, Feline Innovations really does exist and the product is pretty cool. Check it out here. When I adopted my cats, they were already de-clawed but if they weren’t I’d consider it and it would probably be the most attractive accessory in my whole house.

Submitted by Jay Zenner