Collage of thumbnail photos of "We Can Be" podcast guests Collage of thumbnail photos of "We Can Be" podcast guests



Listen to The Heinz Endowments’ “We Can Be” podcast and experience intimate, candid conversations about the big issues of the day with some of the most accomplished, caring and action-oriented individuals in the social change arena. Hosted by former Endowments President Grant Oliphant with more recent episodes hosted by program staff, “We Can Be” explores the often moving, sometimes funny and always inspiring accounts of how these leaders came to believe that together we can be a more just region, state, country and world.

"We Can Be" is produced by the Endowments and Treehouse Media, with theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest and host photos by Josh Franzos. 

How to listen:
Visit this page each week for new episodes.
Visit iTunes, Podbean, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or other major podcast sites to download an episode, or subscribe so new episodes are automatically in your feed each week. Use search term: heinz we can be.

To listen to “Stronger than This,” the special podcast series of candid conversations about COVID-19 by those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as they shared first-hand experiences, challenges, victories, and what they see for the long road ahead, please click HERE.

Season 4, Episode 16
Season 4, Episode 16
Joanne Kilgour - Breaking down the hype around hydrogen hubs

Ohio River Valley Institute Executive Director Joanne Kilgour joins host Philip Johnson, the Endowments’ senior program director for Environment & Health, in breaking down the hype around hydrogen hubs and carbon capture.

Hydrogen hubs have as their centerpiece massive pipeline networks that funnel carbon captured from power plants and factories to injection points for underground sequestration. Some present the process as key to our environmental future, but are the promises of jobs and a reduction in global warming real?

Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI) was founded in 2020 with an aim of providing data-driven environmental research that advances a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable Appalachia. The organization has become a leading voice in researching and communicating what carbon capture and hydrogen hubs would really mean for our country's future.

“Our research shows that not only are hydrogen hubs likely to be costly, taking funding away from more sustainable, long-term solutions,” Joanne says, “but they are also unlikely to deliver on significant job creation or to be an effective climate solution.”

Joanne grew up in Maine, earned degrees at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh, and has held positions with the Center for Coalfield Justice and the Sierra Club. An avid nature advocate, she holds a doctorate in environmental law, and the opportunity to “reveal surprising realities” about Appalachia’s energy future led her to ORVI.

She shares what she has seen about the unwavering sense of pride and place that Appalachians possess; what she has learned about the power of combining data and lived experience in revealing truths; and why she takes care to humanize policy research decisions by keeping the on-the-ground individuals she meets in Appalachian communities front of mind.

“I believe we can be compassionate problem solvers,” Joanne says. Learn how she is doing just that in this episode of “We Can Be.”


Season 4, Episode 15
Danny Perkins Dr. Danny Perkins, professor, founder and principal scientist , Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State University
Groundbreaking data on post-9/11 veterans transitioning to civilian life is paving the path for a better way

Dr. Daniel Perkins, professor, founder and principal scientist of the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State University, leads the largest-ever longitudinal study of post-911 transitioning veterans, “The Veteran Metrics Initiative.”

Danny joins host Megan Andros, the Endowments’ senior program officer for veterans, in diving into the startling findings of his team’s research. Beginning with an initial cohort of 10,000 veterans, the study followed an eventual 6,700 veterans over a three-year period as they transitioned from active military duty to civilian life. 

Season 4, Episode 14
Raqueeb Bey Raqueeb Bey, Founder and Executive Director, Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh. Image credit: Brian Cook, Golden Sky Media.
Raqueeb Bey is growing food, minds and leaders

Raqueeb Bey, the founder and executive director of Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh, joins this episode’s host, Endowments Vice President of Sustainability Andrew McElwaine, to discuss food deserts, the healing effects of holistic gardening and the organization’s surprise boost from alt-rock stars Rage Against the Machine.


Season 4, Episode 13
Jeffrey Brown Jeffrey Brown, Chief Coorespondent, PBS NewsHour
The arts are essential – and here’s why

Jeffrey Brown, PBS NewsHour chief correspondent for arts, culture and society,  joins “We Can Be” host Janet Sarbaugh, The Heinz Endowments’ vice president of Creativity, as they tackle one of the creative realm’s big questions: Are the arts essential?

Season 4, Episode 12
Dr. Kathy Humphrey in a purple dress, smiling. Dr. Kathy Humphrey, President, Carlow University
“It’s important that students know: ‘You are somebody. Your dreams are possible.’”

“I’ve had letters from young Black girls saying ‘I now know this is possible,’ ” Carlow University’s groundbreaking president Dr. Kathy Humphrey, tells “We Can Be” host Michelle Figlar, The Heinz Endowments’ vice president of Learning. 

Season 4, Episode 11
Grant Oliphant in a suit. Grant Oliphant, former President, The Heinz Endowments
Grant Oliphant looks back with gratitude and ahead with hope

As his tenure as president of The Heinz Endowments - and as host of "We Can Be" - came to an end in late February 2022, Grant Oliphant devoted his last podcast to reflecting on the importance of gratitude, what makes a community great, and his hope for what the future holds for the social change realm.

Season 4, Episode 10
Headshot of Jenn Hoos Rothberg, against a grey background Jenn Hoos Rothberg, Executive Director, Einhorn Collaborative
Facing America‘s crisis of connection with Jenn Hoos Rothberg, Einhorn Collaborative Executive Director

“The circle of concern has to be wide enough for all of us to fit inside,” Jenn Hoos Rothberg, executive director of the Einhorn Collaborative, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to addressing America’s crisis of connection by increasing opportunities for empathy and civility. 

Season 4, Episode 9
Michael Mann, wearing a black suit with arms crossed and resting his chin on his hand against a grey background Michael Mann, Author and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State University
The New Climate War author Michael Mann & the fight to take back our planet

Michael Mann, the author of five best-selling books - including the recently published “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet” - thinks that it is indeed still possible to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change, and believes indisputable science and a burgeoning youth environmental movement are key to our future. 

Season 4, Episode 8
Sean O'Leary headshot Sean O'Leary, Author, "State of My State"
Appalachia’s battle between wish & hope w/ “State of My State” author & energy industry researcher Sean O’Leary

Energy industry researcher and “The State of My State” author Sean O’Leary zeroes in on the role of coal, natural gas and petrochemicals in the economies of Appalachia. He does it with with a deep respect for the region where he grew up, and an understanding that with the beauty and grandeur of that region also comes unfulfilled promises of hydraulic fracturing-related prosperity. 

Season 4, Episode 7
headshot of Kristina Marusic in front of a grey background Kristina Marusic, Investigative Reporter, Environmental Health News
Environmental Health News investigative reporter Kristina Marusic uncovers hard truths and arms public with facts

Kristina Marusic is an investigative reporter covering environmental health and justice issues for Environmental Health News.  Her “Fractured: The body burden of living near fracking,” a four-part series that revealed the health impacts of shale hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—on families living near fracking sites, has become a key piece of evidence for lawmakers urging action on environmental health issues. 

Season 4, Episode 6
headshot of Thomas Brennan against a grey background Thomas Brennan, Founder and Journalist, War Horse
The true cost of military service with War Horse founder/journalist Thomas Brennan

Thomas Brennan is founder and executive director of The War Horse, a nonprofit newsroom that has gained international respect for reporting on the often-unspoken human impacts of military service.  He details his 

journey from active duty service in Afghanistan to being honored with a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for his resolute reporting on sexual assault in the military.

Season 4, Episode 5
headsont of Nell Edgington against a grey background Nell Edgington, Author, Reinventing Social Change
Reinventing Social Change author Nell Edgington on embracing abundance, joy & power of “yet”

Nell Edgington, author of “Reinventing Social Change: Embrace Abundance to Create a Healthier and More Equitable World,” has traveled coast to coast in her quest to guide social-change warriors in realizing their full power and capability. “We are infinitely more powerful – in creating social change, or really in doing anything – when we approach it from a place of joy,” she tells host Grant Oliphant. 

Season 4, Episode 4
Headshot of Dr. Barry Kerzin Dr. Barry Kerzin, Founder, Human Values Institute & Altruism in Medicine Institute
Dr. Barry Kerzin, personal physician to the Dalai Lama & founder of Human Values Institute & Altruism in Medicine Institute

Dr. Barry Kerzin is foremost a kind, giving, smart and and inspirational beautiful human being. He is also a Buddhist monk, a personal physician to the Dalai Lama, and the founder of both the Human Values Institute in Japan and the United States-based Altruism in Medicine Institute, which teaches resilience to health care workers through training in compassion and mindfulness.

Season 4, Episode 3
headshot of Brandon Dennison Brandon Dennison, CEO, Coalfield Development
Rebuilding Appalachia for a new energy economy w/ Coalfield Development CEO Brandon Dennison

Coalfield Development CEO Brandon Dennison - honored with a 2019 Heinz Award - and his team are rebuilding the Appalachian economy one job at a time, with gumption, grit and grace as their guide. They are bridging the divide between those dedicated to a declining fossil fuel economy and those who believe in the family-sustaining jobs that a renewable energy economy provides.  

Season 4, Episode 2
Headshot of Asha Curran, who is smiling,  has blonde hair and is wearing a black shirt. Asha Curran, Co-founder, GivingTuesday
How & why radical generosity works w/ GivingTuesday co-founder Asha Curran

GivingTuesday co-founder Asha Curran is one of the few humans in the world today who can rightfully say that they have been instrumental in producing 20 billion social media impressions and raising nearly $2.5 billion dollars to help others in a single year.  This "radical generosity" is more than simply a possibility - it is a reality, and Asha shares why and how.

Season 4, Episode 1
Headshot of William Frey William Frey, Demographer and Senior Fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute
“Diversity Explosion” author/demographer William Frey on where America is headed

William H. Frey is the author of “Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America,” and an internationally renowned demographer and senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute. “Black and brown citizens, and an increasingly progressive young population will dominate spending power, population increases, and, eventually, the care of our older citizens,” William says of the latest census data. “It will take political leadership—on both national and regional levels—to help educate us as to why this is so important, and why this is good for us.”

Special Episode
Special Episode Illah Nourbakhsh, Director of CMU's CREATE Lab, and Raqueeb Bey, Exec. Director of Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh
Bridging gap between university & community: The Center for Shared Prosperity

Funded by The Heinz Endowments with its largest-ever single grant and guided by a committee of trusted community leaders, the Center for Shared Prosperity at Carnegie Mellon University is creating a template for a better way for leading research universities to use their expertise to confront the persistent challenges and inequality confronting the communities that surround them.  Host Grant Oliphant welcomes Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab leader Illah Nourbakhsh, and Raqueeb Bey, executive director of Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh and one of the trusted regional leaders helping guide the focus of the center.