GAA Honors Three With Distinguished Young Alumni Awards

The GAA has recognized three rising stars who are broadly influencing their professions with its Distinguished Young Alumni Awards. The 2015 recipients are:

The awards were presented by the GAA Board of Directors at its quarterly meeting Friday (Oct. 16). The GAA has given the awards since 1989, recognizing alumni age 40 or younger at the time of their selection for bringing credit to the University through their achievements.

Hunter Lewis: Cooking up success

When Hunter Lewis’ career path led him to a fork in the road — to be a chef or an editor — he took both routes. The journalism major who financed his education and early adventures by flipping burgers honed his skills in both fields, then whisked them together to become an editor of food magazines and cookbooks.

While completing his journalism degree at Carolina, Lewis balanced work as a reporter for The Daily Tar Heel with commercial kitchen gigs at Jersey Mike’s and The Loop. After graduation, he moved to The Herald-Sun in Durham and La Residence in Chapel Hill. To polish both crafts, he enrolled in a food-writing course in 2004 at the French Culinary Institute in New York, then stayed in the Big Apple to refine his cooking.

He started at the bottom of the hot restaurant Barbuto and worked his way up to the point that renowned chef Jonathan Waxman tapped him to help open a new restaurant in California’s Sonoma County. Lewis collaborated with Waxman and other well-known chefs on cookbooks, and in 2008 he returned to New York to direct the test kitchen for Saveur magazine. From there, he became food editor for Bon Appetit, then took charge of food content for Southern Living.

In 2014, he was named editor of Time Inc.’s Cooking Light, where he featured a person instead of food on the cover for the first time in the magazine’s 28 years. His cover model? First Lady Michelle Obama, whom he interviewed about her “Let’s Move!” program to fight childhood obesity, and he launched a feature aimed at getting youngsters and their families to cook and eat better, “Let’s Cook!”

Danae Ringelmann: Funding the next big, or little, thing

Danae Ringelmann had worked on Wall Street only a couple of years before she concluded that the world of finance was both inefficient and unfair. Startups have a nearly impossible time securing capital through traditional financing paths. She also remembered her parents’ frustration trying to get financing for their small business.

So in 2008, she and a couple of business school classmates at the University of California-Berkeley set up an online funding platform,, to let anyone inclined to contribute help decide which businesses and products make it to market, a practice known now as crowdfunding.

Today Indiegogo has campaigns in 200 countries, four currencies and three languages and distributes millions of dollars a week to some 8,000 campaigns a year, with the website collecting a percentage of the funds raised. Anyone can start a campaign; the market determines its success. A campaign that is not successful learns quickly that the world is not yet ready for its product or that more work needs to be done.

Indiegogo’s staff of 100 or so is noted for being balanced between men and women, a rarity among most Silicon Valley tech firms, which traditionally have been dominated by men.
Ringelmann speaks at conferences around the world and has testified before Congress about innovative ideas for raising capital to finance small businesses. Fast Company magazine named her among its Top 50 Women Innovators in Technology in 2011, and in 2013, Advertising Women of New York recognized her with its No Apologies Changemaker Award.

Ringelmann credits UNC with introducing her to activism that showed her the importance of changing the world for the better, and to business, which became her medium for doing it.

John Sides: Poli sci blog posts at the Post

John Sides’ blog, The Monkey Cage, proves that not only policy wonks enjoy reading about political science research. He and five colleagues founded the blog in 2007 as a way to gain their ideas and research an immediate voice in public debate, rather than waiting months or years to see work published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who also has authored books on politics — including The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Election — was awarded tenure in 2011.

Four years into his career as a blogger, The Week magazine named him 2011 Blogger of the Year. The following year, Time magazine cited the then-independent among its 2012 Best Blogs. The year after that, The Washington Post picked up The Monkey Cage to publish as a regular feature.

After graduation from UNC, Sides obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science at the University of California-Berkeley. He taught government at the University of Texas-Austin, then joined the faculty of George Washington in 2005. Known as an engaging communicator, he has presented at academic and nonacademic conferences and has more than 25,000 followers on Twitter.

The Monkey Cage averages about 200,000 views a month, with readership doubling during election seasons. By pushing data-driven political science research into the public discourse, Sides is noted for giving substance to political opinions. By distilling difficult concepts into coherent and witty bites, he also is known for making political discussions more accessible. He’s already busy on the 2016 presidential election.

Nancy E. Oates

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