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On Life and Meaning

Jul 18, 2017

Valaida Fullwood is a writer and project strategist who realizes ideas and dreams. She is the author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists - named one of the '10 Best Black Books' of 2011 and winner of the prestigious Terry McAdam Book Award as 2012's most inspirational and useful new book for the non-profit sector.  She is also the vision keeper and principal architect for Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited, a museum exhibit that has toured the nation and will be featured at a national conference hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Valaida is a poet and public speaker who has inspired audiences throughout the nation.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in the burdens and rewards of an idea and the re-framing of a concept that changes community.  


  • Valaida describes herself as an 'idea whisperer' and shares the most memorable idea she whispered and to whom.
  • She talks about how 'an idea is salvation by imagination' and how she sees herself as spiritual instrument.
  • She describes the small town she grew up in and how it shaped all the choices she made next.
  • Valaida shares how a conversation she overhead on a bus sparked her major in college. 
  • She talks about her work overseas and what she learned about herself.
  • Valaida describes the burden of bearing an untold story and how an idea landed on her that was fully formed and generative.
  • She talks about how she set out to re-frame philanthropy across cultures and communities.
  • She shares the impact of her book and exhibit and how it continues to test and reward her.
  • Valaida responds to where her imagination may be taking her next.   

After the conversation, host Mark Peres shares a personal word that begins this way, "The story Valaida tells of an idea that landed upon her that was fully formed summons another idea about ideas..."

For more about this podcast, visit On Life and Meaning.