The Catalyze podcast: We’re back! Fall events lineup for Morehead-Cain

Podcast | September 28, 2021

Alumni (Mini) Forum graphic


Catalyze is back for the fall season, and we have a lot to share about.

Listen to the episode.

RSVP for this semester’s events:

In case you missed it: Jerry Blackwell ’84 spoke with Morehead-Cain’s on September 23 for the event, “My Prosecution of the Chauvin Trial and Lessons in Conscious Leadership.”

Jerry is the founding partner, CEO, and chairman of Blackwell Burke P.A. He serves as national and trial counsel for several major corporations, having represented them in federal and state courts in 47 states and internationally. Jerry is an experienced trial lawyer with nationwide experience defending class actions, toxic tort, commercial disputes, products liability, and other high-stakes complex cases.

Mr. Blackwell is also an active member of his community. Most recently, he served as a lead Special Assistant Attorney General in the successful prosecution of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. In 2020, in tandem with the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Jerry and his firm secured the first posthumous pardon in Minnesota history for Max Mason, a young Black man who was wrongfully convicted of raping a White woman in 1920.

Jerry is a founder of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL), a bar association that promotes the professional development of Black lawyers, judges and law students in Minnesota, and advances education, excellence, and racial equity in the pursuit of justice. In 2011, Governor Mark Dayton appointed him to serve as an at-large member of the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Appointments. He served two terms until 2019.

At Carolina, Jerry was a political science major and was a member of the North Carolina Fellows Program, the BSM Gospel Choir, the Clef Hangers, and the Chancellor’s Committee on Food Services, among many other campus activities. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law and is the recipient of numerous awards, including Minnesota Attorney of the Year, Benchmark Litigation Minnesota Litigation Star, BTI Client Service Super All Star, the National Bar Association Commercial Section Cora T. Walker Award, Minnesota Minority Business Owner of the Year, and Minnesota Super Lawyer.

When he is not zealously defending clients, Jerry enjoys beekeeping and meditation, and is an avid hobby farmer. The alumnus will be featured on Catalyze later this fall.

Music credits

The music for this episode is by scholar Scott Hallyburton ’22, guitarist of the band South of the Soul.

How to listen

On your mobile device, you can listen and subscribe to Catalyze on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. For any other podcast app, you can find the show using our RSS feed.

Catalyze is hosted and produced by Sarah O’Carroll for the Morehead-Cain Foundation, home of the first merit scholarship program in the United States and located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can let us know what you thought of the episode by finding us on Twitter or Instagram at @moreheadcain or you can email us at

Episode Transcription

Welcome back to Catalyze. I’m Sarah O’Carroll.

I wanted to take a few moments to make some quick updates about what’s coming up at the Morehead-Cain Foundation. This fall, we’re hosting a series of Q&A sessions with our new president, Chris Bradford, for each class-year decade.

You can RSVP and find out which alumnus or alumna will be moderating your group’s event on the Morehead-Cain Network.

Also happening this fall is an online mini version of the Alumni Forum. The ninth triennial forum was originally scheduled for this fall, and, you guessed it, the pandemic meant we had to postpone it for next year, for the fall of 2022.

So, as the team plans the roadmap for the in-person forum in Chapel Hill, you’ll want to save your afternoons and evenings this November, the week of the 15th, for our slate of virtual events.

We’ll have a SEVEN Talk with Amir Barzin ’06. Amir is the medical director for virtual care services and the UNC Clinical Contact Center for UNC Health. He also led the development of the Carolina Together testing program.

The (Mini) Forum, which leads up to our annual Day of Giving on Friday, November 19, will also include a panel discussion on the “post-pandemic university.” Towards the end of the week, we’ll have a cooking lesson and wine pairing event with Kevin Callaghan ’89, the owner of Acme Food & Beverage Co. in Carrboro.

That’s enough for now. Our first episode of the season features J.R. Ching ’01, the chief financial officer for Yoma Strategic Holdings. He shares what it’s been like to conduct international business during the military coup in Myanmar. That episode is on up next.

Listen to the episode with J.R. Ching ’01.