This was not your typical Monday night: Tony’s “Do Better Be Better” Dinner

On Monday, November 16th, Tony Brown brought together 38 students and 38 Duke alumni, faculty, and Durham community members for an evening of conversation. As Tony framed it, “The core purpose of this session was to do something more than a traditional ‘meet and greet’ – it was to begin to explore ways to build truly diverse communities one person at a time through conversations about individuals’ passions and deep concerns.”

Senior Erika Becker chatting with N.C. Central University Professor Emmanuel Ortisejafor. Students from Tony’s Enterprising Leadership course were coupled with a community member, and the pairs started the evening by sharing their stories and getting to know each other.


A cappella group Lady Blue performed a two-song set after dinner.

Senior Cole Lutz (far left), a student in Brown’s Enterprising Leadership course was partnered with alumnus Dan Kimberg. “I really enjoyed my one-on-one conversation. It was a great experience to exchange ideas and talk about life with someone who is several years ahead of me, especially someone who is as invested in living authentically and empowering others as Dan is,” he said. Dan started Student U as a project in Brown’s class in 2005 and is now the Executive Director of the non-profit, which offers tutoring and support for Durham school children year round.

Alumnus Dan Baum mingled with other participants at the beginning of the evening before joining his student partner. “I found our conversations to be energizing, and an important reminder of how much good can start with intentionally creating the kind of community that helps us get to know and come to authentically care about one another,” Dan said. “My work often requires me to try and create new partnerships, and Do Better Be Better helped highlight how one of the most powerful ways to build a partnership is simply to begin by taking the time to learn and care about the other person.”