Keeping Duke Law Technology Running

Deb Kinney balances work at Law School with love for wine, fountain pens

Deb Kinney manages a table of her custom modified pen nibs at the 2010 Raleigh Pen Show. Photo courtesy of Deb Kinney.


Name: Deb KinneyPosition: Videoconferencing specialist and media coordinator, Duke Law School Academic TechnologiesYears at Duke: 21

What I do at Duke: I work in media services at the Law School, where my department is responsible for all the technology in the building. We do webcasting, video conferencing, classroom tech support, and my colleagues also do video production. We keep things running and help the teaching and learning process through the use of technology in the classroom.

If I had $5 million, I would: Open a wine bar - that's one of the things I'm going to do when I retire from Duke. Last year I became a certified sommelier, which means I'm a trained and knowledgeable wine professional. To me, wine is a very experiential process. You can drink it for the enjoyment, but it also brings people together and is part of my everyday life. It's something I'm sure others would enjoy more if they knew more about it and weren't intimidated by it. I'd like to open a wine bar to bring that experience to more people.

My first ever job was: I worked at a 7-Eleven in high school in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. I was a cashier and would also stock the shelves. If it got really hot, I'd volunteer to go into the cooler and stock. It was a full-time job during the summer.

My dream job: A wine consultant. I'd go around to all the major wine regions of the world and live, breathe and be a wine person. I've never been to European wine regions, so I'd want to go to France and Italy, and Austria is a wonderful wine region for nice, crisp whites. Australia is doing amazing things with wine. I'd definitely want to get to all corners of the globe.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: While I'm passionate about wine, my other passion is fountain pens. I've had my own fountain pen business for about 20 years, fixing and modifying pens. For the last 10 years, I've been doing modifications on the tip of fountain pens called the 'nib.' I'm probably one of about six people in the world who do these commercially.

The best advice I ever received: Do what you love and the money will follow. If you have a passion for what you do, whether it's professionally or a hobby, you'll be a much happier person. Being true to yourself and doing what you love is important.

When I'm not at work, I like to: Hang out with friends, drink wine and writing. I have pen pals all over the world. We're a large group of snail mailers. It's fun getting real, hand-written letters from people across the globe.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: Flying. It would be the best. I could zip to Chapel Hill and all around the world. I wouldn't have to worry about traffic or gas, either.

Something most people don't know about me: I'm a brown belt in karate. I studied martial arts for 10 years when I was younger. I'm also a gamer - I play Dungeons & Dragons and online video games.