Program Report: Ivan Martinez – Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in New Zealand

MartinezIvan Martinez, a recent Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar who arrived in New Zealand in mid-Winter 2012, began his presentation by talking about his connection with Rotary which started as a teenager and has been a transformative part of his life.

Ivan’s first Rotary experience began when he was invited to attend a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) camp.  The invitation came quite unexpectedly.  He describes himself as a pretty typical teenager.  At home he was what might be called a little sullen, spending much of his time withdrawn in his room with the door shut.  A neighbor across the street, a Rotarian, came over one day and asked if he would like to attend a RYLA workshop.  Ivan was not terribly enthusiastic until the Rotarian said “You get two days out of school.”  That clinched it.  The experience was so meaningful that Ivan worked as a RYLA counselor for the next few years.  Importantly, Ivan says it was the first time an adult saw potential in him and encouraged him to cultivate his talents and interests.  This Rotarian became Ivan’s mentor and friend.  He admonished us “not to forget influence you as Rotarians can have on young people.”

The next pivotal Rotary moment came when he was asked as a high school senior to assume leadership in reforming the languishing Interact Club at his school.  More recently, our club and District 7710 sponsored him as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to New Zealand.  His host, District 9980 located on New Zealand’s South Island, has the distinction of being the southernmost Rotary district in the world.  It is so far south, it is only 4,000 miles from Antarctic.  Consequently, it is always cold, especially for a boy who had grown up in Miami.  His house, like others in Dunedin, was old, had neither insulation nor central heating.  Ivan’s visiting father-in-law summed it up well:  “This is like America, forty years ago.” To combat the cold, locals laconically advised adding another merino wool sweater.  Fittingly for a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, a tree in front of the Martinez home was supposedly planted by Paul Harris.

The population of South Island which has only two Maori tribes is small in comparison the North Island.  Dunedin, located adjacent to the Otago Peninsula and once visited by Captain James Cook in 1770, was in years past the number two city in New Zealand.  Most early European settlers were Scottish Presbyterian farmers who, as Ivan put it, “got on boats and sailed to the bottom of the world.”  Ivan pointed out that New Zealand is the only place in the world where Europeans had permission to settle, confirmed by a treaty signed by a Maori king and the British monarch.  New Zealand remains a member of the Commonwealth.  It is a constitutional monarchy without a written constitution.  Elizabeth II is the Queen of New Zealand.

Kiwis, says Ivan, have a keen appreciation of the environment.  Whenever the sun breaks through the clouds everybody goes outside.  One of his family’s favorite places to visit is Wanaka, a resort town, situated on a beautiful lake carved by glaciers millennia ago and close to ski runs.

Rotary in New Zealand dates back to 1921when a Canadian, Colonel James “Big Jim” Davidson—who was responsible for starting more Rotary clubs than any other individual—enjoyed great success in the South Pacific.  In mid-century, New Zealand Rotarians established the prototype for the Group Study Exchange program when they sent six young professionals and businessmen led by a Rotarian abroad for a two-month study tour.

We perhaps sometimes forget how difference Rotary can make in the lives of individuals as well as doing good for communities in need.


Submitted by Allen Cronenberg

Paul Harris Fellows: Marty Morris and Toby Barfield

rotary12213 005PHF2Foundation Committee Chairman Dallas Stallings presents Paul Harris Fellow awards to former President Toby Barfield (PHF +4) and new member Marty Morris.

Dallas also encouraged the numerous Duke football fans in the audience to get together and award a Paul Harris Fellow to Duke Football Coach David Cutcliffe, who has led the Blue Devils to the first 10 wins season in its history and has been named ACC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row as well as the Walter Camp National Coach of the Year Award for this outstanding season.

Dallas also reminded the club that  Paul Harris Fellowships are a beautiful way to honor a spouse or other important person in their lives that has everything…and it’s tax deductible.

New Member: Roxanne Hall Little

12-5newmemberCongratulations to our new member, Roxanne Hall Little. Roxanne is the Major Gifts Officer for the Durham Habitat for Humanity and was sponsored and introduced by Blake Strayhorn, CEO of the same organization.

Progressive Dinner Report

ProgDinnerThis year’s 5th Rotary Progressive Dinner was a resounding success.  Larger than ever before, we had 86 people signed up, to include Rotarians, their guests and 5 Duke Peace Fellows representing Mexico, Zambia, Canada, Brazil and Thailand. Appetizer’s were enjoyed by all, and everyone enjoyed the hospitality of Judge Nancy Gordon.  Her lovely home made the larger numbers seem manageable and we were blessed with a beautiful, crisp Fall day.

After an hour of nibbling great Foster’s catered appetizers and fabulous goodies made by Carver Weaver, maps were handed out and everyone disbursed to drive to one of nine Rotary homes where they enjoyed a wonderful eggplant parmigiana dinner with salad, bread and wine.  As usual, Pop’s outdid themselves and the new menu was a total success.

The wine, arranged by wine broker Rotarian Aubrey Z-Howell was a hit as well.  By 7:30pm dessert maps were distributed at every house and we all reconvened for dessert which is always held at a Rotarian’s place of work…this year the beautiful American Dance Festival studios on Broad Street.

White twinkling lights bounced off the beautiful plate glass windows and guests enjoyed desserts from Hummingbird bakery and Mad Hatter as well as home-banked goodies from Jodee Nimerichter and Lori Ramsey.  And then Lois Deloatch provided an even bigger treat when she serenaded the group accompanied by a marvelous mandolin player.  Her voice was incredible as many of you lucky enough to have heard her perform are well aware.

Between the 12 folks on the dinner committee, the house hosts, the Rotarian hosting dessert (applause to Jodee Nimerichter) and the fabulous Durham restaurants involved, many people deserve praise for making this event something to look forward each year.  So if you’ve never attended, join the crowd next year.  We’d love to have you!

Go to the Durham Rotary Club Facebook page for many more pictures.

Submitted by Meg Solera

And thanks Meg for organizing this terrific event again!

Program Report: Anna Jones – James Henry Jones Civil Rights Leader

AnnaJonesFormer President Arthur Rogers just had to point out that Anna Jones wouldn’t be in our club if it weren’t for him.

“I found her for you guys,” he said to applause. “I take great pride, and I take all the credit.”

Well, thanks, Arthur, not only for Anna’s membership but for her moving and thought-provoking presentation Monday.

She showed us a 10-minute clip of the documentary she’s working on about her late father, James Henry Jones, a farmer who took on the powers-that-be in seeking educational equality in Northampton County, N.C.

After years of struggle, Mr. Jones was elected to the county board of education as its first African-American member.

Anna says she’s struggled herself with how to tell this story that’s clearly so important to her.

She said 13 people in our midst that day had supported her in the endeavor, and the fruits of their generosity and her efforts were evident in the video.

The production quality was outstanding, thanks in part to the work of a film editor, Stewart Nelsen, that Anna recently brought on board and introduced to the club.

We learned that the Jones family were sharecroppers on Longview Farm, a former slave plantation.

Mr. Jones wanted more for him and his family, leading him to push hard for leaders in Northampton County officials to comply with the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

“He meant just as much to the small community of Northampton as Martin Luther King meant to the South and President Obama meant to the world,” one man interviewed said of Mr. Jones.

“We needed somebody who was not afraid. I come to tell you today that Mr. Jones was not afraid.”

Anna says she needs about $20,000 to finish the film. She hopes to screen it in her home county, which she says as fallen back into racial divides after a period of unity brought about by her father. “There’s a lot of pain up there,” Anna says.

In a testimonial shown after the film, Jane Long Brown, a descendant of the founders of Longview Farm, said she hopes the film will be completed. “Who knows how it could be used to open up hearts?”

To support Anna’s work, call her at 919-489-1125, email her at or send payments to 5119 Copper Ridge Dr., #206, Durham, 27707. Make checks payable to The Southern Documentary Fund, specifying Chairman Jones Project.

Submitted by Matt Dees

Rotary Minute: Shelly Green

Anyone that was surprised hearing about Shelly Green’s background in music hasn’t been near her table when we sing America the Beautiful at the beginning of a meeting… It’s pretty impressive and I’m sure she’s holding back so as not to embarrass us less talented souls. I laughed when she mentioned that her new music teacher at the University of Miami informed her that she wasn’t an alto even though she had sung that her whole life. I don’t even know what that means, probably because the only music “teacher” I ever had, a nun back at St. Bridget’s elementary school, told me that I was a “listener.”

A couple of things I’ve noticed about these Rotary minutes is that we often see a side of our fellow Rotarians that we don’t usually see and then how they often underplay their professional accomplishments. Shelly was no exception, especially on the latter point. The DCVB has been been pretty darn important to the revival of Durham in the last few decades negotiating the slippery slopes of both marketing and politics. Having Shelly ready to step in when he retired is one more thing we have Reyn Bowman to thank for. You can visit the DCVB website to see the tip of the iceberg of all the organization undertakes. If you are asked to recommend just one website to get a flavor of Durham, this is the one. Besides guiding that organization for four years, Shelly has gotten her daughter off to college, become a Reading Ranger at Y.E. Smith, served on Rotary’s board and organized a couple of successful fundraisers for the club.

Below is the text of Shelly’s Rotary Minute if you missed it. It’s a good read even without her cheerful and humorous presentation of it. 



I grew up in upstate New York, one of three children. I was the middle child, with a sister 13 months older and a brother 5 years younger than me. I had a stay at home mom and a dad who worked in construction. Like any other middle child, my baby book has only three entries in it. And like most middle children, I’m creative, independent and good at compromising and negotiating.

My family was very poor. But I never knew it. I grew up learning to help those in need, especially the most vulnerable among us. Maybe that was because my Dad was a Rotarian. One of my favorite activities as a child was collecting money for UNICEF in what looked like little orange milk cartons.

So fast forward a decade or so. My family moved to Dunedin, Florida, when my dad got a job with U.S. Homes as a superintendent. He oversaw the building of what some might call cookie cutter houses. They were all the rage in the early 1970s.

To say my high school was overcrowded is an understatement. We had more than 3,600 students. Freshmen and sophomores went to school at 12:30 in the afternoon until 5:30 p.m. Juniors and seniors went from 7:00am – 12:00 noon. There were no breaks and no lunch. Just six class periods and then you were done.

At the end of my junior year, my high school choir went on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. There was another group of high school students on the same ship. They were part of a summer camp at the University of Miami. I ended up attending that camp the week before the cruise.

It turned out to be a pivotal moment in my life, because I met Dr. Lee Kjelson, who became a teacher, mentor and friend for the next 30 years.

By the last semester of my senior year 4 out of 6 of my classes were music classes. If we had AP classes back then I didn’t know about them and was not at all on the radar of any of the guidance counselors at my school.

Despite graduating 17th in my class of more than 800 students, no one—parents included—ever discussed college with me. We didn’t have the money and I never thought it was in my reach. With no other plans formulated, I enrolled in St. Petersburg Junior College as a music student.

Dr. Kjelson kept in touch throughout that year inviting me down to audition. I finally went in February, six months after studying voice for the first time. My new teacher informed me I wasn’t an alto even though I had sung that part my whole life. I had to learn how to sing all over again.

I bombed my audition and we all knew it. Afterward Doc held up the form that was used by the voice faculty. Nothing was filled out except 4 words written in big red letters: “I want her here.” He saw some potential there that the others didn’t.

Not only was I accepted, but I was given a scholarship that made it possible for me to spend the next three years as a music major at the University of Miami. I made it into Doc’s touring choir and traveled to Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Spain. And when I graduated 3 years later I fulfilled my life-long dream of becoming a music teacher.

There was just one problem. Sigh. I hated being a music teacher. There isn’t enough time to go into the stories about THAT, but suffice it to say, it had nothing to do with the kids. Two years later I accepted a graduate assistantship back at UM and started work on my Master’s degree.

This time I became the manager of UM Singers and took on fund raising and tour planning. I made ends meet by conducting the Miami Children’s Choir, working as a choreographer for half the high schools in Dade County, serving as a soloist and youth choir director at a community church, and singing at various synagogues for the High Holidays. Oh, and I became the Director of that choral camp I mentioned earlier.

I think this is when the travel bug really bit me. In the next few years I traveled to Hong Kong, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, England and Belgium. I got to sing in the Sydney Opera House and yes, I even made it to Carnegie Hall. I finished my Master’s Degree in music with a concentration in arts administration.

Immediately following I worked at International Fine Arts College in Miami recruiting students and developing programs that helped double their enrollment.

When I moved to North Carolina as a trailing spouse in October of 1988, it was evident that getting a school or university job at that time of the year was highly unlikely.

I took a job at the Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau to tide me over until I could get a “real” job. But within months I figured out that I could put all of the skills that I learned in music and the arts to work in marketing. I loved it and never turned back.

I accepted a job in 1992 to start a visitor’s bureau in Chapel Hill. Three years later my daughter was born. Exactly four weeks after that, my mom, who had just turned 56 years old, died from breast cancer. I still mourn the fact that Samantha, who is now a freshman at Hendrix College in Conway Arkansas, never got to know her.

I was hired in Durham as part of a succession plan following a stint running the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau in the late 90’s.

When Reyn Bowman subsequently announced his retirement, the board interviewed me and hired me to be their president, a position I’ve held for 4 years now. And after a 20 year friendship, I don’t think too many people were surprised to hear that Reyn and I began to date each other two years ago.

In closing, I want to end by saying how much I love what I do and how much I love Durham. Marketing is every bit as creative as music and I love knowing that what I do helps businesses prosper and helps bring tax revenue to Durham so our community can continue to be a great place to live and work.

I also love my work with Rotary, especially working with students at YE Smith Elementary school. It’s brought me back full circle to become a teacher and I find my time there incredibly fulfilling.