Program Reports

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

Program Report: Bill LeFerve – Duke Gardens

Bill at Duke GardensOccasionally, our club is required to meet offsite when the Convention Center hosts a large meeting or exhibition. In the case of Monday, April 4, preparations at the center were being made for Durham’s own Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. (Note: Monday, April 11 meeting will be offsite at TROSA.) Rotarians were treated to the delightful Doris Duke Center at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, surrounded by thousands of blooms in all of their springtime glory.

Sign at Duke GardensRotarian Bill LeFevre, executive director of the gardens, provided an interesting and sometimes humorous overview of the gardens’ history, followed by a walking tour. LeFevre holds a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Design and a master’s degree in Public Horticulture Administration, and was appointed Duke Gardens’ first full-time director in 2007. Since then, more than $10 million in capital projects have been created, including the Toyama Sister Cities Pavilion, the Pine Clouds Mountain Stream Japanese Garden, and the relocation of the century-old Roney Fountain from East Campus to the Rose Garden.

The Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, a pilot project of the national Sustainable Sites initiative, was also completed. This area displays, demonstrates, and teaches about plants that provide people, animals, birds, and insects with food and shelter, and features the Burpee Learning Center, which Durham architect and fellow Rotarian Ellen Cassilly repurposed from two historic North Carolina tobacco barns. Several aging wooden bridges have been replaced with artisan metal ones.

LeFevre explained that Duke Gardens has an annual operating budget of about $4 million; about one-third in cash and in-kind support comes from Duke University. The remainder is raised through numerous channels, including wedding rentals, musical performances, educational programs, membership fees for Friends of Duke Gardens, individual and corporate donations and sponsorships, and Terrace Shop purchases. There are is no admission fee to garden visitors, but parking rates are $2 per half hour.

Bill was introduced by President Lois

Bill was introduced by President Lois

Like the community and the university which surround them, Duke Gardens has accumulated numerous accolades for its world-class horticulture and excellent programs. In 2016, Condé Nast Traveler bestowed its “20 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America.” Best Colleges Online named it one of “50 Most Amazing University Botanic Gardens in the U.S.” and Best of Hip Green Scene called it “Best Public Garden to Stroll” in 2015. In 2014, the gardens placed fourth on an international list of “50 Most Stunning University Gardens and Arboretums” and The Huffington Post honored them among the nation’s “insanely beautiful public gardens.”

The gardens are truly a living museum, with bulbs, plants, and trees propagated on-site as well as purchased from exclusive nurseries throughout the southeast. LeFevre conservatively estimates the number of visitors each year to be around 300,000, and admits his biggest challenge is how to accommodate the growing number of people not only on the property, but with adequate restrooms, parking, accessibility, and other services. In the meantime, it’s one of our Durham’s crown jewels, delivering beauty year-round above and beyond its vision statement, which reads, in part, “(Duke Gardens is) an indispensable and lasting feature of life at Duke University, accessible to all, providing outreach and respite to a diverse and vibrant local community and visitors from around the world.”

Submitted by Carver Weaver

Program Report: Jerry Mack – Eagles Football


Jerry Mack and AnnaNCCU Head Football Coach Kicks off First Spring Meeting

Fresh off his second season as head football coach at NCCU, a record-setting 15 wins already in hand, Jerry Mack kicked off our club’s first meeting of Spring by highlighting how the right mix of vision, sacrifice and passion can drive success on the field and later life. Coach Mack was introduced by Rotarian Anna Jones.

These virtues represent Mack’s 3-play roadmap to get there.

“Anybody who touches North Carolina Central … I want them to come out being better,” Mack said at Monday lunch. He told a full house that he works to teach players to find a vision for success in their own lives, be willing to sacrifice and do what it takes to gain the skills and move ahead with passion for something they care about.

Mack took the helm in late 2013. His appointment followed a series of assistant coaching positions at other schools including the University of South Alabama, University of Memphis, Jackson State and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

At each of these programs Mack served in deputy coaching positions and helped develop champion wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks and champion teams.

“I learned a lot,” Mack recalled. “I grew a lot.”

Judging by the numbers alone, the Eagles are quickly adapting to Mack’s own passion for the game, its ups, downs and broader life lessons.

In his first season as a head coach, Mack led the 2014 Eagles to the most victories in the program’s Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision tenure with a 7-5 record and a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship. The team also earned a win highly coveted by many – victory over the arch-rival Aggies of North Carolina A&T in late 2014. Mack guided the Eagles in 2015 to an 8-3 overall record and a 7-1 conference mark to repeat as MEAC co-champions. This included another win against the Aggies.

Mack puts in long hours in the job. He said he is helping young men to build personal success stories that will serve them through life. “I tell all these guys that life is long if you make bad decisions.”

Each individual success, Mack said, keeps him hard at coaching. “Those are the things that touch my heart. Those long nights when it gets tough and tiresome, those are the things that keep me going.”

Mack played football at Jackson State and Arkansas State University, where he lettered three years before earning a bachelor’s degree in management information systems in 2003. He completed his master’s degree in PE at Delta State in 2006.

Mack and his wife, Starlett, have two sons, Jaden and Jaxon, and one daughter, Skyler.

Durham Rotary will be cheering hard next season, and extends thanks to Mack for taking time to attend lunch and open his personal version of the life playbook for success and fulfillment.

(Submitted by Mark Lazenby)

Program Report: Dr. Paul Feldman

Program Feldman WebThis program reminded me why I opted for Physics for Dummies instead of chemistry as a required science course at UNC back in the day.  Actually, Paul Feldman did a great job explaining the medicine and technology of an exciting new treatment for diabetes that promises to deliver a year’s worth of medicine without the bother of injections or pills.  The device is as small as a matchstick, is implanted subcutaneously in the abdomen and is powered by the body’s fluids—no need for external pumps or batteries. The medicine and its delivery system is currently in Phase III trials with the expectation that FDA approval will come this summer.

Paul Feldman related the story of how two groups of scientists converged to produce the promising treatment.  This story could well be a business school case study on entrepreneurship and the synergy between science and technology.

Paul’s educational journey led to a bachelor’s degree from Duke and a Ph.D. from Cal-Berkeley.

At Glaxo Smith-Kline where he worked for 27 years, Paul became interested in gastrointestinal by-pass surgery, a procedure that not only produces weight loss but happily also promotes remission of diabetes type II. A new GSK research group began looking at peptides as treatment for diabetes.  It was discovered that a combination of two peptides proved most effective.  How to deliver these peptides proved elusive.  Peptides are commonly injected because they are destroyed in the intestines and stomach.

A reorganization of GSK and the closure of research facilities at RTP in late 2014 turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Paul and five others, with the help of venture capital, established a new company, Phoundry Pharmaceutical to continue research in peptides.  An amical separation from GSK also facilitated their plans.  GSK not only gave the new company lab equipment and reagents, probably more important was an agreement that allowed Phoundry to retain intellectual property rights to its research.

Hearing of the promising peptide research of Paul and his group, Intarcia—headquartered in Boston and the second biggest privately held biotech company—expressed an interest in having discussions with Phoundry.  Paul traveled to Boston in June, only expecting to negotiate a licensing agreement.  Instead, Intarcia subsequently made an offer to buy out Phoundry.  Paul made one demand.  His research team would remain in North Carolina. Feldman with implant web

What made the merger so appealing was Intarcia’s expertise in delivery of medicine with its matchstick size pump. This product has the potential of being a blockbuster.  Diabetes is now a global crisis with the number of cases projected to nearly double by 2030.

The deal closed in December 2015.  Paul is now Head of Discovery and Translational Medicine at Intarcia Therapeutics.

As a gift to the community, the company is sponsoring a Habitat House for a veteran with Don Stanger who was scheduled to introduce Dr. Feldman but was under the weather and could not attend.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg      

Program Report: Rodrigo Dorfman and Second Chance PSA

Dorfman ProgramOccasionally someone will suggest that I should shoot video of our programs and I smile and say “that’s an interesting idea” while thinking “Oh gosh, it difficult enough to put together a few coherent sentences once or twice a month, but video…”

The assumption, of course, is that you just set up the camera and let her rip and you’ve produced a video. But the few times I was hands-on involved in the production of a video or TV commercial during my marketing career, I learned that really effective videos involve a bunch of skills both technical and artistic.

The program revolved around a video public service announcement shot and directed by Rodrigo Dorfman. Mr. Dorfman describes himself as a “Multimedia producer – border hopper – human hyphen – lover of revolutionary consciousness” on his Twitter feed, and the program he provided touched on all these areas. His accomplishments as a multimedia producer have earned him a page on Wikipedia and in the online catalog of movies, He is a native of Chile but lives now in Durham.

Mr. Dorfman was introduced by Past President Don Stanger, Rotarian Judge Craig Brown and activist Jackie Brown, the former CEO of The Durham Economic Resource Center. The three of them conceived, produced, and raised funding for a PSA that will become the heart of a multi-media communications campaign that will involve them and other members of Mayor Bill Bell’s Poverty Reduction Initiative Jobs Committee, now led by Rotarian and County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs and Councilwoman Jillian Johnson.

Funding was provided by the Rotary Centennial fund, the greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Morningstar Law Group, and the City of Durham.

Mr. Dorfman screened the video and two others that he shot as illustrations of his work and then talked a little about this genre, which he described as a new form of media. The Durham PSA featured Mayor Bell, Judge Brown and another Judge, Elaine Bushfan and two local people, a woman and a man, both ex-offenders, who got their second chance employment through changes to North Carolina Law that provides incentives to hire ex-offenders. Chuck Wilson of C.T. Wilson and Ann Woodward of The Scrap Exchange were also featured in the short video.

Second Chance PSA 3mn FINAL from Rodrigo dorfman on Vimeo.

The other short videos where done for the Latino Credit Union and the Raleigh Magnet Schools program. What all three had in common was that they used stories to make their points. Mr. Dorfman shared that the big lesson that he learned while developing his skill was the importance of listening.

He also believes that he has found a niche here in Durham with hundreds of NGO’s (including many represented in our Club) that combines his love of the community with his filmmaking, storytelling and entrepreneurial skills to do good.

Asked how he got involved in this form of art, he told a story of when as a young man in Chile, he helped distribute forbidden anti-government news reproduced on CD’s and distributed manually.

In the midst of both a project to upgrade our own story on our website and put together an effective new member orientation, the buzz around a few tables was about moving in a multimedia direction that included video. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t also occurring to many of our members that run community organizations.

While Mr. Dorfman’s international recognition is chronicled in and, a better sense of his talents and ambitions is available on his own website, If you have a few minutes or more to explore, it’s fun.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report: Andra Watkins – Walking the Natchez Trace

Andra Watkins ProgramLike he often does, Dallas Stallings, had the right sentiment after Andra Watkins presented our program on Monday. He advised Rob Everett that he should give up his leadership of the Program Committee because he was never going to top this one.

Rob, who introduced Ms. Watkins, has actually turned the committee over to Steed Rollins already. However, besides this one, he still has lined up a program or two that will cement his reputation for great programs. Stay tuned.

The program might have been seen as a promotion for Ms. Watkins book Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Walk of the Natchez Trace, but you’ll have to read the book to decide if her skills as a writer can exceed her skill as a motivational speaker. Not Without My Father, ­was her memoir of what began as a book promotion for another book, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. andra-at-the-finish

Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame, led the famous expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase in the early 19th Century. Her interest was sparked in part when she discovered that these twenty something explorers…eh…partied their way up the trace with the women of the Native American tribes along the way who reckoned that copulation with the white men would steal their powers.  This resulted in many cases of what we now call STDs which were treated with mercury. Mercury, of course is very toxic. Later analysis of some of the samples of the “soil” deposited in their campsites had such high concentrations of the element that archeologists wondered how so many survived the journey.

Meriwether Lewis died either of suicide or murder on the Natchez Trace years later at age 35. This inspired Ms. Watkins to write what she called “a paranormal historical action adventure novel” about Meriwether after his tragic death, a genre with little competition, she mused.

Andra Watkins Program 2She described something many authors know, that is, that writing a book is often the only fun part of getting it published. She described it as her “baby,” an apt analogy that many parents learn, that is, that most of the fun is on the front end of the process. She was turned down by many publishers and when it finally was born she conjured up the stunt to walk the 444-mile Trace to promote the book. Her goal was to do the journey 15 miles a day, 6 days a week and end up in Nashville for a scheduled book signing. She needed a wingman and searched until her only viable choice was her 80-year-old father…who was that last person she wanted to spend that kind of time with.

If you imagine that this was physically challenging, it certainly was, but the moment of revelation was one day when she found herself exhausted and discouraged and collapsed in a field. There, she said, she found herself face to face with a daffodil. Each day then became a day of meditation and living in the moment seeing the beauty around her. She also grew closer to her father and commented, “We don’t realize how quickly we lose people. Make memories with them and hold them in your heart, and you’ll have those memories when they are gone.”

The appreciation went beyond daffodils, there were birds and animals that would follow and even beauty in the detritus along the road. Photographs of the journey rotated on the large screen in the room as she spoke. A discarded flossing pic colorfully set beside the highway stripe, comes to mind.

Ms. Watkins, it turns out, is not only an author, but an accountant and a highly decorated Rotarian in District 7770 – Eastern South Carolina. She is the past president of the East Cooper Breakfast Rotary Club in Mount Pleasant and the District Communications Chair, a two-time Rotarian of the Year, a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, a Paul Harris Society member and recipient of her District’s Distinguished Service Award.dont-wait

Her closing comment was “Don’t let the petty little things steal the amazing from your day.”

Gentle readers, if you are reading this because you missed the meeting, you missed a good one that these few paragraphs and a picture or two could not possibly capture in full. You can however get a fuller sense of this woman and her work on her website There you will also be able to purchase one or both of these books and see some of the pictures that she took on the Natchez Trace.

Submitted by Carver Weaver and Jay Zenner

Program Report: Arles Taylor – Intellectual Property Law

ArlesSpeakingGot the Next Great Invention? Don’t Talk It Up Quite Yet

Memo to the city’s start-ups, entrepreneurs and inventors:

If you have created the next game-changing product, widget or unique new stuff, then zip your lips tightly shut.

Get a patent attorney. You’ll need to file for patent protection and begin a fairly complicated process of application and review.

And be aware that international legal angles are to be considered as well.

These were the three key takeaways from a detailed presentation Monday on the protection of intellectual property. It came to us courtesy of long-time member Arles Taylor, a veteran patent attorney in Durham at the Jenkins, Wilson, Taylor & Hunt law firm.

In 20 tightly filled minutes, Taylor took a full house to law school during a detailed presentation outlining the state of intellectual property laws nationally and internationally. (Class came for free, unlike the superb lunch that we have come to expect each Monday, which is covered in dues. We thank Taylor for the pro-bono work.)

The subject is particularly important in Durham and the Research Triangle, respective homes to start-ups and research organizations at the major universities and commercial businesses.

As Rotarian Don Stanger said while introducing Taylor and his widespread activities in law and the community, the upcoming discussion would be important to anyone or any organization dealing with “creations of the mind.”

Taylor opened by noting recent local filing data that would surprise nobody familiar with the region. In one year alone, key big players like Cree, IBM and Red Hat submitted about 700 applications for protection. The same year, large and small firms from the local biotech industry filed roughly 100 more. And an additional estimate of about 140 came from the major local universities.

Things around town are vibrant intellectually – no secret there.

Taylor outlined many provisions, possible grace periods, descriptions of process, previous distinctions between U.S. and foreign law, plus comments on the maintenance and enforcement of patents, among other subject matter.

Unfortunately, time ran short. Despite a number of raised hands, there was only time for one question posed by this week’s correspondent, who asked Taylor to name the day’s top lessons.

To repeat:  Stay quiet, get a lawyer, and know that things can get more complicated overseas.

(Submitted by Mark Lazenby)