Rotary Minute: Cora Cole-McFadden

Cora Cole-McFadden began her minute by noting that one of her role models in politics was long term Rotarian and City Councilman Howard Clement. Ms. Cole-McFadden’s roots are deep in Durham.  She told how she was born in Duke Hospital before it became Duke Medical Center and also when it was unusual for Blacks to be treated there. She grew up in a neighborhood that was wiped out when the Durham Freeway was built. Her father was a janitor at the Durham County Courthouse and her mother was a domestic caretaker.

She mentioned that she transferred from Hillside High School to Durham High during desegregation to help integrate the formerly all-white school. She has undergraduate and masters degrees from NCCU and made it clear during her minute that she was an Eagle.

As most of us surely know by now, Ms. Cole McFadden is running for another term on City Council. Among other things this means that there is more information about her online than most of our new members. A great source is her current election website. This is not her first campaign either. She is the first African-American women to serve as Mayor Pro-Tem with Mayor Bill Bell. She was also the first African-American woman to serve as a department head in the City of Durham government.

This deep experience makes her a formidable candidate but what she emphasized in her minute was her attraction to Rotary because it touches lives. As she concluded, “Because I’m blessed, I must bless others.” Because of her position many of us have known her but it has been a pleasure to get to know her better since she became a Rotarian back in July.

The website is 

Program Report: Scalawag – Evan Walker-Wells

I went to handy-for-everything Google for a definition of scalawag. Two interesting definitions came up. First was “a person who behaves badly but in an amusingly mischievous rather than harmful way; a rascal.”  The second definition was an eyebrow raiser, “a white Southerner who collaborated with northern Republicans during Reconstruction, often for personal profit. The term was used derisively by white Southern Democrats who opposed Reconstruction legislation.”

Hmm…interesting name for a magazine devoted to telling stories about the South that illustrate and maybe suggest some solutions for its problems without dealing directly with policy. Our speaker was Evan Walker-Wells, one of the founders of the magazine who was introduced by Ari Medoff.

Here in the South, yesterday’s Democrats are today’s Republicans so the title itself carries its own ironic weight. With the baseball field behind him, Mr. Walker-Wells could be forgiven for the hopelessly mixed metaphor when he described the magazine as “batting way above its weight” which he quickly realized and corrected.

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Chris Rosati Dies

Chris Rosati, who was honored with the Club’s 2016 Community Service Award has died.  Chris had also been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship and spoke to the club twice was a victim of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Chris was remembered by his friend CBS Correspondent Steve Hartman in this online article.

Embedded in that article is Chris’ video Note to Self. Here is the link to that video.

Other posts about Chris on this site are linked here.

New Member – Sarah Hill

Please welcome new member Sarah Hill. Ms. Hill was sponsored by Past President Don Stanger.

Many of us know Ms. Hill as the owner of Hamilton Hill Jewelry in Downtown Durham where she also lives a short walk away in the Kress Building. The Hamilton Hill website provides this short recap of her background and interests:

Sarah Hill can’t believe how lucky she is to have a life where her vocation and avocations collide. Passionate about art, design, fashion, personal style, and urban revitalization, the Hamilton Hill owner is in her element working with clients and designers and being a merchant in her beloved 27701 (downtown Durham!). On the winding road to Hamilton Hill, Sarah earned a Graduate Gemologist certificate from the Gemological Institute of America and a B.A. in English from the University of Florida. In her non-jewelry work life, she has had the honor of being employed by the Smithsonian Institution, The Urban Institute, Duke Women’s Studies, and the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, where she met Michael Hamilton (!). Paperwork and business matters require a good deal of Sarah’s time, but if she could, she would spend all day, every day talking jewelry and life with her incredible clients. 

Please take the time to introduce yourself and welcome Ms. Hill to the Club.

Anna Jones – In the News with Chairman Jones

Rotarian Anna Jones and the documentary she produced and directed is getting a lot of attention lately.

On October 12 she was interviewed by host Frank Stasio on his program “The State of Things” on WUNC. Here is a link to the the PBS station’s website with a story and a recording of the interview.

Now we have news from Anna that has just returned from the Indigo Moon Film Festival in Fayetteville where Chairman Jones won the Audience Choice Award in the Documentary Feature category.

For more information about the documentary go to 

Congratulations Anna for keeping alive your father’s effort to provide a quality education to all the children of North Carolina.



Inovation Fellows: New Class – October 2017

Our fellow Rotarian Christopher Gergen is CEO of Forward Impact, an organization that unleashes the impact potential of next generation entrepreneurial leaders. This work includes launching community-based strategies to develop and scale high-impact entrepreneurs. I first met Christopher nearly ten years ago when he started one of Durham’s first incubators for entrepreneurs, Bull City Forward. BCF focused on emerging companies whose mission included aspects of social entrepreneurship: i.e., “doing well by doing good.”

Now a Fellow at Duke’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Christopher helps communities and institutions of higher education develop transformational leadership experiences with partners such as Duke University and Greensboro’s Center for Creative Leadership, among many others. This vision, coupled with his work to develop and scale high-impact entrepreneurial concepts, led him to approach our Rotary Club’s Board of Directors four years ago with his idea of creating the downtown Durham Rotary Innovation Fellows.

Chris’s concept was simple: he wanted Rotarians to nominate a diverse group of high-impact entrepreneurial leaders in the community. Three Fellows would be selected from the nominees based on their ability to make sustainable, measurable, and scalable impacts in their respective fields, and to emphasize the concept of “inclusive innovation”: welcoming emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods into the Rotary community and the greater Durham leadership network.
The cost of membership for the Fellows is underwritten by our club for the first 18 months. (Fellows are selected annually, however, so there is overlap among the successive classes.) After 18 months, Fellows are asked to pay 50 percent of membership costs, and beyond that, the hope is that they will be further along in their careers and more focused in their direction and can take on the cost of annual membership.

Christopher briefly introduced this year’s group of Fellows, our third “class,” allowing them as much time as possible to present their various programs. Katherine Gill has been a landscape architect since 2001, and is focusing her effort on helping people, young people in particular, learn more effectively in outdoor settings. She works with community partners to identify underutilized parcels of land in urban settings, and change them into places where kids can be involved in project-based outdoor learning exercises and engage in healthy living initiatives.

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