Fulton Meachem – president and CEO of INLIVIAN
What inspires your work?
Growing up in Greensboro, NC, in a middle-class African American family, where both Mom and Dad were college graduates, there was an expectation that I would go to college myself. Growing up, some of my friends grew up in apartments and at the time I did not know they lived in Public Housing. As an athlete, these apartments were our hangouts, I built great, life-long friendships there.
They were equally talented and had good grades but unlike me did not have the access to information about college or even the expectation that it was an option for them. So, again because of my upbringing, college was a natural path, I didn’t recognize until I was out of college that they did not have the access. I saw firsthand what not being exposed to all the possibilities of what this life really offers can do to a person.
I watched my former friends get trapped into a life where they were not able to meet their God-given potential. My parents always told me that the children did not ask to be in their particular situation. I made this path part of my own mission to provide the families the dignity of a quality place to live. And also opening them up to more than just the four walls of their apartment and beyond their neighborhood, to expand their vision on what is really possible. Allowing them an opportunity to live up to their full potential. Working in the affordable housing space, this gave me an opportunity to use my talents and abilities to help others.
What makes Charlotte special?
Charlotte is still a relatively large city but has kept its hometown feel. It is growing by leaps and bounds. Once, people are able to learn about their neighbors, it is a very welcoming city. There are museums, art galleries, sports teams and wonderful green public spaces for people to live and interact. The city is trying to evolve through public policy creation, to create a city where people from all walks of socio-economic backgrounds can live, work, play and practice our individual faiths together.
Who is/was your greatest inspiration and why?
Family. Family is everything. I was lucky enough to grow up with two great people. Mom, who was a second-grade teacher for 30 years, and Dad who was a Probation and Parole Instructor also for 30 years. Both attended Historically Black Colleges/Universities and gave birth to an Eagle North Carolina Central University graduate. My aunts and uncles also played a role in opening my horizons. They supported me, nurtured me and exposed me to a lot of different activities including boy scouts, sports, faith groups and understanding that I just might find something that I love. So I think my inspiration has always been to make them proud.