Visionary Catalyst


Airdate: March 21, 2018

Michael Marsicano is ranked by Charlotte magazine as the most powerful person in the city of Charlotte.  He is president and CEO of The Foundation For The Carolinas, a Charlotte-based community foundation that advances philanthropy and drives major civic leadership initiatives. Prior to joining the Foundation, Michael served as president and CEO of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, and as executive director of the Durham Arts Council and the Royal Arts Center in Durham, North Carolina. He has served on the boards of several national and local organizations, from Americans for the Arts to Duke University. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Charlotte Center City Partners Vision Award and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Innovator of the Year award.  Michael earned a bachelor's degree in psychology, and a master's degree and a Ph.D. in education from Duke University.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in leading a community foundation and a career dedicated to the arts, philanthropy, education and citizenship. 


  • Michael explains the work of the Foundation For The Carolinas, his current strategic priorities, how his time is divided and how he sees his role in the community.

  • He talks about the impact of the September 2016 protests in Charlotte on economic opportunity and upward mobility efforts and his personal response to those protests.

  • He responds to assertions that Charlotte doesn't need any more task forces, whether the Foundation stifles emerging leadership, and whether the Foundation helps donors fund morally objectionable initiatives.

  • He responds to whether the Foundation is sensitive to public criticism.

  • Michael talks about wearing blue jeans and what that might say about him.

  • He reveals how his time at Duke shaped him and what catapulted his career.

  • Michael reflects on his time at the Arts & Sciences Council and whether the arts became more institutional under his watch.

  • He answers how he feels being listed as the most powerful person in Charlotte and the challenge of hiring the next president of the Foundation.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: Intellectual Honesty

To Learn More About Michael


  • What struck you about Michael's comments?

  • How do you respond to criticism?

  • How do you view personal power?

  • What does intellectual honesty mean to you?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.