About valaida

writer. thinker. listener. idea whisperer. traveler. mad word geek. absolute scrabble freak. drinker of life. da*n good friend. ridiculous foodie. imaginative dreamer. afflicted party planner. kind conqueror. okra lover. hillbilly w/ southern roots far-stretched global sights. author of book that reframes portraits of philanthropy. Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists | http://bit.ly/htLxQU

‘The Human Touch’


Just before Christmas, Harrods—the London department store—reached out and commissioned me to write for their magazine. My assignment: Interview and profile CEOs and founders of global luxury and beauty brands that #giveback.

From the brilliant founder of UOMA Beauty who is leveraging her brand to elevate Black entrepreneurs and advocate racial equity to the mastermind behind the “Brilliant Breakfast” supporting young women and girls through the Prince’s Trust, I gained new insights on the power of #philanthropy around the world.

The April/May issue, with my article “The Human Touch” was released last week to over 80K of Harrods’s top clients!

As a contributor, the editors asked this hypothetical question, You can join your favourite TV series character(s) on holiday this spring – who are you with and where are you going?

My answer: “I’d join characters from Succession (I have so many questions!) on holiday in the Seychelles. We’d have a luxurious time and there would never be a dull moment.” Lol

The Bold Ones


Photographer: Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr.

So honored to work alongside members of NGAAP! For 15 years, our philanthropic collective has been inspiring action through the power of Black philanthropy. Read NGAAP Gives Back, Gives Black in Charlotte, our Black Philanthropy Month story via QCityMetro.



Recently, I wrote a piece for the site Appalachian History, sharing family lore. The story centered on my McGimpsey-Fullwood roots in Fonta Flora, a once-upon-a-time fertile farming community in western North Carolina disrupted by man-made Lake James.

“Like a descendant of exiles, I inherited a nostalgic yearning and inextricable ties to a time and place I will never see. Bequeathed and probably cellular too, my hand-me-down memories of Fonta Flora are treasures.”

Excerpt from Fonta Flora: Blue Ridge Atlantis

While the site’s editor chose a different title, my working title for the story was Provenance. Defined as “the place of origin or earliest known history of something,” the word provenance epitomizes Fonta Flora to me. Documents going back as far as the early 1800s show Fonta Flora (at one time also known as Linville) was once home to virtually all my paternal forebears. Having stories, photos and visceral bonds that allow me the privilege of knowing my grandmother’s grandmother’s mother and more kin is a privilege I do not take lightly.

The “fonta” in Fonta Flora translates from Latin as “source” or “origin”. Thus, my provenance, my source is the source of the flowers and also the flowering for the McGimpsey-Fullwood family.

Read my family story.

Charlotte Gives Black on August 28


Proud to be a part of New Generation of African American Philanthropists and to lead the collaboration that created #CLTGivesBlack, part of our community’s monthlong celebration of Black Philanthropy Month and a jumpstart to a new future of funding equity in the Queen City. 

Our key partners for nearly a year have been My Brother’s Keeper of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, National PanHellenic Council-Charlotte Chapter, SHARE Charlotte and YMCA of Greater Charlotte. In addition, roughly 40 Charlotte-based corporations, banks, professional sports teams, foundation and media outlets joined as Promotional Partners.

We are urging people all day to give to one or more Black-led, Black-philanthropy nonprofits, whether with small dollars and major financial gifts. But not to stop there! We want everyone to establish a connection today and find ways to continue the support, through volunteering, sharing your knowledge and network, and donating with re-occurring contributions.

Black-led nonprofits, the backbone of our communities, are often well-recognized beacons of hope and opportunity, delivering critical services, offering training, and giving voice to those frequently unseen and unheard.

Want to learn more about the 100s of local Black-led, Black-benefitting nonprofits? Visit sharecharlotte.org, where you can search online and discover matches for your interests and investments of time, talent and treasure. The African American Community Foundation and New Generation of African American Philanthropists are additional resources for information, involvement and insight.

To learn why August 28 is a significant date and the date for #CLTGivesBlack, watch this!

Giving Black Matters


Photo: June 2020 protest against injustice, Charlotte, NC | V. Fullwood

Earlier this month, I spun a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts into an op-ed and posted it on Medium.com. I made an appeal to my Southern city, Charlotte, North Carolina, and hope it’s listening. Below is an excerpt.

By elevating and strengthening Black leadership and voices of groups that historically have been marginalized, our city can make strides in de-centering Whiteness. We must dismantle systems of anti-Black racism that have dominated Southern culture and sustained institutions and structures that perpetuate distrust, oppression, inequity and injustice.

You can read the entire piece here, Giving Black Matters: A Call for Philanthropy That Believes In Our Humanity and Invests In Our Equality.


Photo: June 2020 protest against injustice, Charlotte, NC | V. Fullwood

So This Happened



Grateful for the recognition and honor of earning the 2020 TRAILBLAZER AWARD from ABFE, the national network of Black executives and professionals in philanthropy.

“This is an amazing slate of awardees! They have provided unwavering philanthropic support for Black communities and exemplify the reasons these awards were created. As the world is fighting COVID-19 and seeing, first-hand, how racial inequities have multiplied the impact of the virus on our communities, we need people and institutions, like these, now more than ever. This is the type of important work that shines, even in the midst of so much uncertainty.”

— Susan Taylor Batten, ABFE President and CEO

In addition to being a part of this year’s cohort of award recipients, I’m thrilled to join past ABFE Trailblazers, including my friend and fellow Black Philanthropy Month co-architect, Tracey Webb.

  • 2013 Trailblazer | John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman, CEO & Chief Investment Officer, Ariel Investments
  • 2014 Trailblazer | Tracey Webb, Founder, BLACKGIVESBACK.COM and The Black Benefactors
  • 2015 Trailblazer | Thurman White, President & CEO, Progress Investment Management Company, LLC
  • 2016 Trailblazer | Kenneth Holley, CFA, Principal, Portfolio Manager, CIO, Herndon Capital Management

Learn more about 2020 award recipients here.

Mother, mother


Necessity is the mother of invention.


Take a 3D virtual tour of The Soul of Philanthropy, and see what’s going on

Greek philosopher Plato acknowledged how creativity and ingenuity get sparked by a need or problem.

Thirteen years ago, when I wanted to see stories of Black philanthropy elevated and celebrated, the idea for Giving Back was conceived.  Four years after the book was published, an exhibit was created to reach more people in new and deeper ways.

Now, this mutha of a pandemic and period of social distancing have given rise to more ingenuity!  Take a sneak peek at the latest innovation and newest dimension to the Giving Back Project, our 3D virtual gallery for pop-up, abridged exhibitions of The Soul of Philanthropy.

Just as with the standard exhibit, your organization can host and present a 3D Virtual Pop-Up Exhibition to celebrate and inspire giving. WATCH and take a gallery tour, with me as your docent.

Come to see philanthropy differently, with a specially curated, immersive experience that you and your stakeholders can tour, engage with, and learn from.

When We Give Black



Happiness in sharing WHEN WE GIVE BLACK. It’s a new documentary-style film short from The Soul of Philanthropy. It is a reminder that philanthropy is deeper than your pockets. Giving Black is about more than race or color, it is a consciousness and a culture.  Good things to know and put into practice during this time of great need. 

Please watch…and enjoy!



Cleaned so we don’t see

crooks, gaps, cracks, dirty deeds and

tangled nots and haves

ava wood


Haiku to launch us into National Poetry Month 2020. We need poetry now as much as ever. Stay home, if you can, and most of all stay safe!

Poem, Day 1

Podcast With An Idea Whisperer


“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”

― George Bernard Shaw

So much fun embracing my idea whisperer ways and sharing thoughts about creating, imagining, dreaming BIG, manifesting and more with Donna Scott and Rachel Sutherland, the producers of Smart Mouth Life.

Listen in, the SML podcast dropped yesterday!