… Brooke has never been average on the
anchor desk. There is something about her
presence, poise, command and control.”
Baldwin took a job at a midmarket TV
station in Charlottesville, Va., where she
was the writer, editor, producer, anchor and
teleprompter scroller of her hourlong news
show. Her career path took her to smaller
jobs in bigger markets, working as a field
correspondent and reporting news from
around the globe. The shootings at Sandy
Hook. The bombing at the Boston Mara-
thon. A truck mowing through a crowd in
France. Embedded with troops in the Mid-
dle East. The 2016 presidential election.
Qualities that her friends have appreciated became apparent to the TV audience: a
genuine interest in others; deep compassion
for people, including those she doesn’t know
well; determination; an ability to ask questions that get to the heart of an issue. She’s
nonjudgmental, even when her best friend
got a dog and named him Duke.
The human quality she brings to news
stories makes her a standout, said Hall, the
CNN producer: “She’s good at capturing
emotion.” And in the afternoon slot, when
breaking news is likely to happen, she can
shift gears on the fly.
Baldwin was nominated for a Peabody
Award after hosting a town-hall-style
meeting of 40 people touched by gun violence. Twice she has been part of a Peabody
Award-winning team at CNN — once for
coverage of the 2008 presidential election
and another time for the BP oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico.
She won two Emmys as part of a news
team covering breaking news. In 2012, the
New York Festivals International Television
& Film Awards gave her its Silver World
Medal for Best Investigative Report for the
documentary To Catch a Killer.
Recently, Baldwin began a series for
CNN.com interviewing powerful women
from various walks of life.
UNC, where her career started, remains
close to her heart. Baldwin gave the 2017
spring Commencement address; she has
spoken to aspiring journalists in classes at
UNC’s School of Media and Journalism; and
she said she responds immediately to any
email with UNC in the subject line.
“It was the support of faculty and stu-
dents that gave me the wherewithal to give
[journalism] a go,” she said.
As He Was on the Battlefield,
Veteran Is Mission Driven
Nothing builds leadership like holding in
your hands the lives of hundreds of soldiers
and the civilians surrounding their mission.
Nicholas Black ’ 13 (MBA) became a leader
just that way, as a Ranger-qualified captain,
platoon leader and battalion fire-support
officer for the 173rd Airborne Brigade
Combat Team, with 27 months in combat
And while he completed his service with
medals for valor and effectiveness, he saw
that others had survived the battlefield only
to bring home psychological trauma and
issues with substance abuse, some so severe
that they killed themselves.
Re-entering civilian life in
2011, Black partnered with two
other veterans to found Stop Soldier Suicide, a nonprofit dedicated
to preventing suicide among
soldiers leaving the military and
ensuring that veterans get other
kinds of help. The national organization has more than 700 clients
receiving case-management services and connects by phone and email to
Founding partner Brian Kinsella said
that with Black, “no mission is too big; no
obstacle too small. He’ll find a way to make
it happen. … People connect with him, and
he connects with people.”
Black had applied to Kenan-Flagler Busi-
ness School while deployed in Afghanistan,
contacting Bob Connolly, an associate pro-
fessor of finance who sent care packages —
and Kenan-Flagler coffee mugs — to U.S.
soldiers in combat areas. Black distinguished
himself in his MBA program, receiving the
Rollie Tillman Jr. Outstanding Leadership
Award and being selected as a Kenan Insti-
tute Leadership Fellow.
“Nick was a paratrooper,” Connolly said,
“and they’re not quiet sorts. Nothing is half-
way, ever. If you’re going to do it, do it big.
That’s his approach to everything.”
Once Stop Soldier Suicide was estab-
lished well enough to hire staff, Black
looked for other nonprofit ideas.
“Innovation sometimes is taking an idea
or solution from one industry and applying
it to another,” Black said. With two of his
classmates from Johns Hopkins University,
he organized Victory Social Capital, seeing
the potential to scale a nonprofit through a
public-private partnership investment mod-
el. His team restructured a 500-person ther-
apeutic community that led to an additional
$8 million in public investment.
He then turned his attention to creating
more meaningful connections between nonprofits and their donors. He showed his entrepreneurial flexibility when one effort he
and Kenan-Flagler classmate Jeremy Berman
’ 13 (MBA) launched didn’t work out because
of customer-service issues beyond their
control. He and the staff were able to morph
the business into the nonprofit GoodUnited,
where he is CEO.
GoodUnited uses email-personalization
technology to bring donors and
nonprofits together, similar to
the Pandora music-streaming
service but for philanthropists,
using technology to suggest
what they might want to support
next, based on their previous
Black comes to public service
naturally. His parents worked
for the U.S. intelligence com-
munity in Africa, where he grew up. He
came to the U.S. for high school and was
just shy of 18 when the terrorists attacked on
9/11. That cemented his determination to
serve his country like his parents. He joined
ROTC at Johns Hopkins, where he was on
the football team and president of his fraternity, then served in the Army for five years.
“Career” is not a word Black applies to
his life’s work. “I’m really good at chasing
problems,” he said. “I’m good at learning,
not through being smart but by running
into walls, experiencing things and getting
better.” He was mentored by people at
Kenan-Flagler who had started companies
and “were in the fight,” he said.
Connolly said Black’s motivation is not
wealth. “If he had put his mind toward
doing something with an IPO, he could be
rich by now,” Connolly said. “It’s really nice
to have someone like Nick bringing all this
talent to the table without thinking only
about making money.”
Black agrees that mission comes first.
“The ultimate driver,” he said, “is thinking about guys I served with who don’t
have the opportunity to do what I’m doing.
That’s a constant reminder for me to take
that risk, because they can’t.”