Program Report: Mac McCorkle

Pundit Says NC Politics Hard to Figure Out

He’s a seasoned political consultant turned Duke associate professor who pairs impressive professional chops with the candid admission that figuring out how North Carolina will behave politically “is a daunting task.”

In fact, Pope “Mac” McCorkle of the Sanford School of Public Policy traced the state’s baffling political ethos to a declaration by Thomas Jefferson’s that North Carolina’s “political mind is mysterious to us.” A NYT bestseller by two Harvard academics, How Democracies Die, includes a proposition that the United States may lapse into paralyzed politics and “be like North Carolina,” McCorkle said. A recent piece in The New York Times Magazine asked in its headline whether North Carolina “is the future” of U.S. politics.

Today, the state is paralyzed politically – witness the embarrassing birth of HB2 and its untidy cleanup. In the recent past, North Carolina has been a fickle battleground of no durable loyalty to either major party. Think Helms, Edwards, Dole, Hagan. Think Barber in Raleigh, and five consecutive Democratic gubernatorial wins as the Southeast, Virginia excepted, moved largely Republican.

“You have these flips that are very hard to make sense of,” McCorkle said.

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Rotary Tree Planting

We started on a bitter cold day in January with two Durham Rotary Club planters (Jenny Levine and Peter Jacobi), but our Club did it!

Durham Rotary Club met the challenge of Rotary International President Ian Riseley to plant a tree for every Rotarian worldwide. 72 Rotarians, family and friends of Durham Rotary planted 441 trees surpassing our goal of 249 – one tree for every active, honorary  and on leave member of our Club. Six donors funded $1650 for trees. Our Tree Planting Challenge Work Team led this project advocated by our Presidents Seth Jernigan, Brady Surles, and our own ESRAG secretary Melissa Mills.

Planting trees in our community helped Durham Rotary Club form longterm tree planting partnerships with the City of Durham Urban Forestry; Trees Durham; Keep Durham Beautiful; Triangle Land Conservancy; Durham Central Park; North Carolina School of Science and Math; Durham Public Schools; StudentU; and our fellow Rotary Clubs in Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Hillsborough.

View our brief Earth Day celebration video: Use the password trees (all lower case.)

Submitted by Peter Jacobi

Program Report: Chas Pippitt – Baseball Rebellion

I was the worst high school baseball player…ever. After starting the first five games my senior season without a hit, I spent the rest of the season doing duty as the first base coach and ended the season hitless. It wasn’t until many years later that it dawned on my that use of readily available technology even way back in the early 60’s might have made a big difference in my performance.

For that reason I was very interested in the program that was billed to be about using technology to coach baseball.  Rotarian Rory Gillis of Durham Magazine fame, introduced her friend Chas Pippitt, the founder of Baseball Rebellion, a business based in Durham that provides individualized coaching designed for baseball players who want to improve their hitting.

Rory prefaced the more formal introduction with the story of how they met at UNC Asheville. Chas had gone to NC State as a baseball player but realized he was in over his head there and went to UNC Asheville where he was able to play more. A friend of Rory’s became Chas’s wife Megan, who was a guest of Rory at the meeting as was Chris Gennaro, the business manager for Baseball Rebellion. Rory told this story with a hint of mischief in her tone that matched Chas’s light tone as he told of the ups and down of getting to play regularly and then getting his business off the ground and growing it.

So, we got kind of a twofer here.  If you were interested in baseball, there was some fascinating information about how technology is helping players of all ages with their games. One insight that he shared was that most effective players it flyballs. Many of their training efforts are to help their clients get the ball up in the air and even how to place it where the fielders are not. They employ a lot of technology to make better hitters. In this case they invented a tee to help hitters adjust their swing to get their hits in the air.

One of the more interesting tidbits came in response to a question from Don Stanger about what they could possibly teach about hitting to some of the major leaguers who are clients of Baseball Rebellion? The answer has to do with improving body mechanics speeding up the swing and hitting the ball harder with adjustments to technique and practice, practice, practice.

The second part of the twofer was an interesting tale of building a unique entrepreneurial company using all kinds of advanced technology to create a “rebellion” in the way players of the National Pastime learn to hit the ball. He talked about renting barns in multiple locations, working around the livestock in poor lighting to help kids play the game. Today they have set the bar for a modern training facility and have players all over they world using their resources, many coming to Durham and others doing it remotely using recorded or live video. Cal Ripkin, Jr. sent his two sons and Manny Ramirez, a major leaguer for 19 years and still playing at 45 years old in Japan, was a client. Chas also mentioned that one measure of their success is the value of the college scholarships earned by their clients.

The company’s website,, seems to be a bit of a work in progress but it has many posts with instructions and links to videos that could be quite helpful to coaches or anyone trying to learn the game.

So what was the technology that might have helped me. At the time I was mildly myopic and had glasses that I didn’t wear while playing any sport. It didn’t make any difference as a lineman playing football or during endless hours of pickup basketball.  Why it didn’t occur to me that they might be helpful tracking an 80 mph fastball or following a hard hit ground ball, I’ll never know. When I was even younger than that I had a taste of what it felt to meet the ball solidly and see it fly over everyone’s head so my ineptitude was very frustrating. Congratulations to Chas and his associates for making that thrill possible for so many boys and girls.

New Member: Steven Day

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Steven Day.

Steven is a Senior Hospice Specialist & Peer Mentor with Kindred Hospice.  As an expert in the field of hospice, he was recently transferred from Houston, Texas to the Raleigh/Durham area to work with Kindred’s rapidly growing program in this market.

In his spare time, Steven teaches online as an Adjunct Professor of American Government at Lone Star College in Kingwood, Texas.

Steven has been a Rotarian on and off since 1996 and is a Paul Harris Fellow. Prior to his move to our area, Steven was serving as Membership Chair of the Rotary Club of Humble, Texas.

Program Report: Dr. Eugene Washington – Duke University Health System

Back in the early 80’s Durham proclaimed itself the City of Medicine largely based on the presence of Duke University’s hospital, research and medical school. This was promoted successfully by the Chamber of Commerce. As the community has grown and established itself as one of the more desirable places in the country to live, the use of this designation has faded. Even at the time, there was a school of thought that this might have been a little off key.  If you’re a doctor, your association with the word “medicine” was your vocation, the noble practice of curing the sick. For others the immediate association is something, often unpleasant, that you take when you are sick.

On Monday our speaker was Dr. Eugene Washington, who succeeded Victor Dzau as Duke University Chancellor for Health Affairs and president and CEO of Duke University Health System. Dr. Washington is an internationally renowned clinical researcher and health policy scholar and came to Duke from a similar position at UCLA.

Dr. Washington was introduced by Past President MaryAnn Black, who works closely with him as an Associate Vice President for Community Affairs at the Health System. Her two-page introduction was playfully cut off by Dr. Washington who complained to her that she was cutting into his time. He also joked about being a PK (preacher’s kid) before he launched into the explanation for why the emphasis is changing from Duke Medicine to Duke Health.

The challenge in this country that he outlined is that our country has the highest costs and below average health measures in the developed world. Unfortunately, medicine is only one factor in determining health and not a very big one at that…about 10% according to Dr. Washington. He elicited thoughts from his audience on what the other factors might be. At the top of the list is behavior, then social and economic conditions, the environment and, of course, genetics.

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New Member

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Bryan Piccirillo. Bryan was sponsored by Marge Nordstrom.

As an Edward Jones financial advisor, what matters most to me is understanding what is important to you. Working closely with you, your CPA, your attorney and other professionals, we use an established process to help determine what is most important to you and how we can achieve your goals.

Prior to Edward Jones, I worked for Duke University Hospital as the perioperative pharmacy manager. My responsibilities included project management/implementation, budgeting, strategy and planning, and employee management. My passion to help individuals in bettering their health also led me to see that many individuals also need help in bettering their financial understanding. This passion to help families now translates into helping families implement wealth accumulation, wealth protection, and wealth transfer strategies.

I graduated from Ohio Northern University with a doctorate of pharmacy and from Franklin University with a master’s in business administration.