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

Rotary Minute: Dr. Peter Jacobi

Editor’s note: If Dr. Peter Jacobi is/was as good a doctor as he is a storyteller, this Minute also illustrates how good a Rotarian he will be. In his own words…

I don’t know about you, but aside from March Madness, I have been thinking about spring a lot lately.

Perhaps you remember that delicious feeling during the spring of a school year.

Yes, there were assignments due, but there was something irresistible calling you outside.

As a family physician I should know the difference between hay fever (a condition of the nose) and spring fever (a condition of the soul).

What I am talking about is spring fever.

So, you may wonder where I am going, but I promise you I am coming back to Rotary.

___________________________________________ [Read more…]

Program Report: Shafonda Davis of The Durham APS

It wasn’t really my turn to do this write-up, but pressed into service, I’ve now wasted a couple of hours thinking about how to approach it.  I’ve got plenty of material, including the PowerPoint presentations that were used by APS Executive Director Shafonda Davis and Development Director Darlene Fiscus. There’s also a very good Facebook page ( and a great website (

But I sit here looking at the computer screen thinking about the dogs and cats I’ve known. First and foremost is Dusty, the dog I spent more time with under the same roof than any other living thing. Assistant District Governor Joyce McKinney, who was present at the meeting and who works closely with APS, helped Dusty across the “rainbow bridge” just short of his 18th birthday in what seemed more like a priestess administering last rites than being “put down.”

There are three Sams in my history. One was a boyhood tan and white Boxer. My brother rescued a Malamute and gave it to my parents. They also named him Sam and he chewed up every cushion and loose shoe in the house before he became an honored family member. There were a couple of Cocker Spaniels before Sam II. The third Sam, also with some boxer in him belongs to Melissa Mills. Sam and his constant companion, Sarah, both true rescues, spent several weeks with me after Melissa broke her wrist, and we became good friends.

My brother Bill always has several dogs, two or three now depending on which ones you count. But the first one was an abandoned hound who had been hit by a car. A vet amputated the leg and she was smuggled out of the office before she could be euthanized by his sister-in-law, a vet tech. They called her Tinker but I always called her Tripod. She was a great dog and never seemed to miss that rear leg.

There are a lot more dogs I could mention and cats too, but this is not a memoir.  I just wanted to make the point that all these guys were loved and cherished and brought great joy. Many in the club can tell a similar history.

But somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, or more than 2000 of the animals that pass through the APS shelter here in Durham annually, don’t make it out. They never get a real name, they never have a real home. They may never have been not hungry or not scared of humans. They may be sick, or hurt, or just too ugly, but they are not adoptable and must be disposed of, un-mourned.  Most “no kill” shelters, according to Ms. Davis are very selective about the animals they take in, but in Durham, the shelter can’t turn away any animal that is brought in. Strays, surrenders, healthy, sick, wild or just old, they must take them. Ms. Davis made the point very passionately that the most difficult responsibility they have is putting down the animals that nobody wants.

The good news is that we’ve come a long way. Not too many years ago, the number of animals that passed through was almost double. Progress with spay and neuter programs are the most effective way of dealing with the over population of dogs and cats, and they are working.

As you might expect, the shelter can always use help. Ms. Ficus related the many ways this is possible. There’s plenty of information about that on their website. There is also a page about their annual “Walk for the Animals” on Duke’s East Campus coming up on May 20. Information is at

My personal fantasy is that pets reincarnate and the wise thing to do when you lose a wonderful pet, is to wait patiently, and they will show up sooner or later. So, I assume Dusty’s successor is out there somewhere stirring around and I check the APS website periodically to see if he’s among the 100 plus dogs residing in the shelter at any one time. Haven’t seen him yet, if he’s a “him” in this new life, but a few, like this cutie, make me wonder, “Dusty?”

Submitted by Jay Zenner


New Member: Susan Amey

New member Susan Amey introduces herself after her induction on Monday. Susan was sponsored by Shelly Green and has joined Shelly’s team at the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau as the Director of Marketing. Susan is a Raleigh native, whet to school at NYU and came to us from AICPA. Please introduce yourself and welcome Susan to the Club.

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

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.

Submitted by: Carver C. Weaver

Nana’s Wine Dinner 2017

All 39 guests had a fabulous time Thursday night at our Rotary Nana’s Foundation Fundraiser Wine Dinner. First and foremost, the food and wine were superb as was the fellowship.

During the event, Chef and Nana’s owner Scott Howell was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow for his contribution to Rotary’s Foundation Fundraising efforts, sponsored by his wife and Rotarian Aubrey Z-Howell. As Dallas has tried to present this award for the past three years, both he and new Foundation Chair Andy Esser were thrilled to make this Rotary honor a reality this evening.

Eating our way through risotto, salad, appetizers, salmon, short-ribs, chicken, collards, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, butternut squash and copious amounts of wine, beer and ‘bubbly’, followed by delectable desserts left all attendees happy to have supported a great cause by eating a superb meal.

And of course, we would be remiss if we did not thank Dallas Stallings for his tireless efforts heading up our Club’s Foundation work for many years. He passes the torch to Andy Esser but not surprisingly he will continue his Foundation work across our Rotary Area, impacting even more people and projects.

Thanks go to all Rotarians who attended or sponsored attendees due to their exemplary service to the goals of Rotary and the Foundation. What a great way to raise funds to support the Foundation and all the great work it enables us to do both locally and internationally.

Submitted by Meg Solera