This is Catalyze, a podcast produced by the Morehead-Cain Foundation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With a wink and a nod to the Foundation's two chemist benefactors—John Motley Morehead III and Gordon Cain—“Catalyze” is meant to represent action, movement, and bringing about change. Our conversations with action-oriented alumni and scholars cover Carolina experiences, career evolutions, individual leadership approaches, personal values, and all kinds of stories of transformation, resilience, and achievement.
Ads, algorithms, and reversing capitalism in art, with producer and musician Nicholas Byrne ’19
Catalyze invited Nicholas Byrne ’19 of Arts + Crafts back to the series to talk about his latest music projects, and because we thought you might want to learn more about the artist behind the music that’s featured on the show.
Nicholas spoke with us from Smithonia, an unincorporated community about 20 minutes outside Athens, Georgia. He shared about his collaborations with Sam (whose music project is called Sacra Monet) and singer-songwriter and guitarist Audrey Walsh (UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 2023), a DJ at Carolina’s student-run radio station, WXYC 89.3 FM.
Nicholas also talked about how AI-powered tools will advance digital music production, how a “shake-up” in the creative landscape of social media platforms could shift dollars back into the hands of content creators, takeaways about manipulating sound and light from Berlin’s music scene, and a new opportunity on the horizon in New York City.
Gap Year Dispatch: Emile Charles ’24 (and ft. Taylor Shinal ’25, Mark Finamore ’25, Asher Wexler ’25, and Noah Gottlieb ’25)
For this special segment of Catalyze, Emile Charles ’24 shares the most impactful aspects of his international gap year, pandemic disruptions included. The scholar interned at a children’s hospital in Cape Town, South Africa; visited his father’s Caribbean home in St. George’s, Grenada; worked on a global public health collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Malawi Ministry of Health; and organized Black Lives Matter protests in Chapel Hill.
Gap year scholars Taylor Shinal ’25, Mark Finamore ’25, Asher Wexler ’25, and Noah Gottlieb ’25 also sent in audio diaries from their current corners of the world. You’ll be taken to a Tanzanian safari, a Slovenian market, an ancient Egyptian tomb, a Scottish seacoast, and a ski slope in Utah.
Chris Bradford, incoming president of Morehead-Cain, on building transformational educational opportunities in Africa; reimagining ‘lifelong impact’ at Morehead-Cain
The road that brought Chris Bradford to Chapel Hill began in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and included stops in New Haven, Connecticut; Palo Alto, California; Oundle, England; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Chris spoke with Morehead-Cain from his home in Johannesburg to share his story of founding African Leadership Academy (ALA), his personal mission (which he says is to “build platforms that enable individuals to reimagine what’s possible for themselves and their societies”), and his vision for Morehead-Cain as the incoming president.
Amber Koonce ’12, civil rights attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, on juvenile justice advocacy; redefining beauty standards for women of color
Amber Koonce ’12 is a civil rights attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Amber shares how her Morehead-Cain summers working at a women’s correctional center in Ghana and at a young boys’ correctional center in Scotland helped inform her vocation to defend human rights and civil rights in representing incarcerated people, particularly people who’ve been incarcerated as children.
Karen Stevenson ’79 on her nontraditional path to federal court judge: “No one else can tell you what your path should be”
When reporters and public relations professionals come calling, Karen Stevenson ’79 knows what to expect: They are going to ask her about being “the first.”
As a high school senior, Karen became the first African American woman to receive the Morehead-Cain Scholarship as part of the inaugural group of female Morehead-Cain Scholars. In 1979, the alumna made national headlines as the first woman from the University and the first African American woman from the United States to receive the Rhodes Scholarship.
Karen shares about: her thoughts on the renown she's received for being "the first" of so many accomplishments; how she approaches her work as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Central District of California; and how she's maintaining a sense of equilibrium during the pandemic.
Alan Murray ’77 of Fortune on political polarization, growing revenue streams in media, & the future of work
Alan Murray ’77 is CEO of Fortune Media.
Prior to joining the media organization in 2015, Alan served as president of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. For nearly two decades, he held a number of roles at The Wall Street Journal, including deputy managing editor, executive editor online, and the Washington bureau chief. Alan also served as the Washington bureau chief at CNBC and as a cohost of the nightly show Capital Report.
Alan will headline Morehead-Cain’s spring Virtual Alumni Speaker Series on Wednesday, January 27, at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). The alumnus will talk about restoring trust in America.
Great podcast for inspiration + connection to the Carolina community!
Love this podcast! It is inspiring to hear about UNC alumni in a wide range of professions, life stages, etc. The host does a great job of digging into more than the guests’ career trajectories. The breadth of guests and topics keeps each episode fresh. It energizes me when I’m reminded of this great community that I am lucky to be a part of!
Fantastic new podcast!
This podcast from the Morehead-Cain Foundation has tons of potential. The alumni of this program are so diverse and so accomplished that their stories would be interesting to anyone wanting to make a difference in the world! Can’t wait to see where it goes.