Rachael Meleney: Dance and Decision Paralysis


Rachael Meleney about CAH

How long have you worked at CAH?

I was brought on in September 2015.

What brought you to CAH?

I graduated from UNC with a variety of experience working with entrepreneurship education and startup support programs– both in the university setting and in the private sector. At the time I was doing marketing and recruiting for The Startup Factory, a tech accelerator that was integral in the development of Durham’s startup community. I was introduced to the CAH when they were launching the Startup Lab and needed someone to spearhead the project. I was intrigued by the possibility to build something from the ground up and that allowed me to play in the intersection of entrepreneurship and behavioral economics. It was a unique and exciting opportunity to explore supporting startups in the area of research application, and I jumped at it.

What is the primary focus of your research?

I don’t do research, I’m simply fortunate enough to work with a lot of smart and interesting people with such rich and various backgrounds! I am most interested in applying niche field expertise to entrepreneurship and setting up the world’s problem-solvers to be successful.

Your favorite experience while working at CAH?

I get to meet so many awesome people – local and international entrepreneurs, incredible academics, and tons of people doing interesting, impactful things in the Triangle’s robust and supportive startup ecosystem. I also love to create and this role has allowed me to piece together a curriculum around BE and entrepreneurship and write about what we’re learning as we build this quirky incubator program– it’s been a lot of fun to dig into and to see those materials have a meaningful influence in the development of budding startups.

If you weren’t a researcher, what career path would you have followed instead?

I’d like to think that in another life I would’ve been an art-school kid pursuing dance. There’s little more that feels as powerful and life-giving to me.

Which living person do you most admire?

My friends– they’re everyday people doing amazing things and showing up in their lives with a lot of grace and courage. Their contributions to who I am are the best parts of me. They make my life rich.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

In the extreme, any virtue can be unproductive. Patience is the worst…but only because I don’t have it.

Which BE related words or phrases do you most overuse?

Decision paralysis, because I know it all too well (do you know how many awesome restaurants are in Durham?!)

Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to externally process. The frustrated introvert in me thinks that would be useful.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I once performed in 26 pieces in a 50-piece dance recital. That 6 months of show prep was probably the hardest I’ve worked for something and the most fun I’ve had.

Who are your favorite writers?

CS Lewis, JK Rowling (sorry, had to)

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I’d like to think Eleanor Roosevelt and I would’ve gotten along. But I’d hate to be so presumptuous.

What is your motto?

My inspiration changes by the week…

Do you have any shoutouts?

Hi mom & dad