Tree Planting Challenge Change in Date

The Tree Planting of 300 Seedlings on March 24 has been changed to:
Saturday, March 31,  9 am – 12 noon at Bromley Forrest near Hillsborough.
See Peter Jacobi or Jenny Levine for details.


New Member: Dr. Pascal Mubenga

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member and new Superintendent of the Durham Public School System, Dr. Pascal Mubenga. Dr. Mubenga was sponsored by Rotarian Steed Rollins.

Dr. Mubenga has enjoyed a successful career in public education spanning more than 20 years in North Carolina. From 2015 he served as Superintendent of Franklin County Schools in Louisburg, NC. Prior to this, Dr. Mubenga served as a District Transformation Coach, a School Transformation Team Lead and School Transformation Coach with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for four years.

Immediately preceding his work with NCDPI, he was the principal at Jones Senior High School in Jones County, NC, from 2007 through 2011. Dr. Mubenga has also previously served as an assistant principal in Franklin County and a math teacher in Johnston County. He also served as a math teacher at Chewning Middle School in Durham for three years, beginning his career in public education as a math teacher for Nash-Rocky Mount Schools.

Dr. Mubenga earned his Ph.D. from Capella University in 2007. He also holds a Master’s in Secondary Education from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Shaw University. He has served as an adjunct professor and is the author of several peer-reviewed articles.

It is worth noting that Dr. Mubenga started with Durham Public Schools on November 27, 2017 and spent his first 90 days conducting a Listening and Learning tour visiting schools, speaking with staff and students, also conducting Town Hall meetings, meeting with community partners, faith-based partners, and civic organizations in order to create a Strategic Plan that will provide the best educational opportunities for the students and families of Durham.

Dr. Mubenga is married to his best friend, Chantal. They have three children. In his spare time, Dr. Mubenga enjoys traveling with his family and playing tennis.

New Member: Cheryl Howell

Please welcome and introduce yourself to new member Cheryl Howell. Ms. Howell was sponsored by Rotarian Nancy Gordon.  In her own words…

I am extremely excited about joining The Rotary Club of Durham. This will be my first experience with a rotary club and I thank you all for the opportunity to become a part of your group.

I consider myself a native of North Carolina because even though I was not actually born in this state, I have been here since elementary school. I graduated from high school in Rocky Mount and went to college in Boone at Appalachian State University. I attended law school at UNC Chapel Hill. I practiced law for a few years in Winston-Salem and in Fayetteville before settling in Raleigh about 25 years ago. When I moved to Raleigh, I became a faculty member of the Institute of Government, now the School of Government, at UNC Chapel Hill, and I have been on the faculty there ever since. I love my work with the School of Government because it gives me the opportunity to work with dedicated and inspirational public servants from all over North Carolina.

I have one daughter. She graduated from Appalachian State last spring and moved to DC to work for a nonprofit focusing on food access issues, and to waitress to make the money to pay the rent. After she left home, I moved from Raleigh to Durham to be a bit closer to my office, and I have been in Durham for about a year and a half. I am enjoying learning about Durham and I am especially enjoying adjusting to my 15-minute commute to work after 25 years of an hour each way. In my free time, I like to hike and bike and I have discovered Durham County has many great places to do both. I also love to travel and I have done quite a bit of it in the last few years since my daughter left home.

I want to join Rotary for many reasons, but two in particular. First, I believe it is very important to contribute to the community I live in and I want to find a way to connect with meaningful service opportunities in Durham. This group certainly seems to be extremely active in that regard, so I believe joining is a great way for me to become involved. Second, I want to meet other people who call Durham home so I can begin to form a community here. I still love my friends in Raleigh, but I want to connect with new friends in my new home town. I feel like this club is full of friendly, interesting people who love Durham, so I am looking forward to meeting and working with you all.

Program Report: Susan McSwain – Reality Ministries

As the years click by faster and faster still not knowing what I want to be when I grow up, I’m more and more awed and a little envious of those who tell stories of life changing moments when their vision crystalized and they knew what they were born to do.

Rotarian Mark Higgins introduced our speaker, Susan McSwain, the Executive Director of Reality Ministries, to an audience thinned a little bit by the truly awful weather we were experiencing and maybe a few who had forgotten to change their clocks over the weekend.

Ms. McSwain described her vision of an inclusive community where everyone, no matter what race, gender, orientation, nationality, religion or level of ability was accepted and nurtured and became the best person they could be.

My first thought was what does that have to do with “reality” at a time when white nationalists are crawling out from under their rocks and beating their chests.  But, maybe that’s the point; we need to share her vision to create a new reality.

Ms. McSwain expressed how wonderful Durham is, relatively speaking, as an inclusive community, but that we’re not all the way there yet.

Then she told the story of her own life-changing moment after she was asked to help at an event at SouthPoint mall for a group of young people with a variety of disabilities. She told of the trepidation she felt approaching this task and the sense of relief and acceptance that she felt when she joined the group. This was when she knew that bringing such warm and accepting people who were struggling at the margins of society into full participation in the life of the community was what she wanted to do.

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Club Member Ingrid Wicker McCree Athletic Director of the Year

NCCU’s McCree Earns NACDA Under Armour AD of the Year Award

North Carolina Central University Director of Athletics Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree has been recognized as a winner of the Under Armour AD of the Year Award, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced on Monday (March 5).

McCree will be presented with her award for the Football Championship Subdivision during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on Friday, June 29 at NACDA’s 53rd Annual Convention at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

The AD of the Year Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities.

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Program Report: Club Assembly

Behind the Scenes: Downtown Durham Rotary Club Annual Review Program

Club President Seth Jernigan noted that this past Monday marked the 29th meeting of our Rotary fiscal year – but hey, who’s counting, right Seth? As Rotarians found their seats and tucked into lunch, he remarked to tablemate Mimi O’Brien, “I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet,” to which Mimi replied drily, “I’m sure people will appreciate that.”

The annual state-of-the-club assembly program gets an undeserved bad rap, so President Seth entitled his comments “Behind the Scenes.” I found the title to be appropriate, as I learned more about numerous club projects of which I had some awareness, but no tangible context in terms of actual numbers or measurement of the impact our club has on the community.

For example, I know that we’re the largest club in our region, but I didn’t realize our ranks have swelled to 217 active club members and 29 honorary members, with weekly attendance averaging 115-120 Rotarians. Seth noted the importance of our new meeting venue in helping drive membership, saying that while the Convention Center was perhaps a good fit for an old-fashioned, traditional service club, the PNC Club at the DBAP is an exciting and energizing match for a club like the Downtown Durham Rotary. (Not to mention the great food!)

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