In light of celebrating admirable people and organizations in our local community, it was quite easy to select Shante Walker as a clear winner to start our spotlight series. Having spent time at The Niles Foundation's urban-farm sites, looked at their ambitious roadmap, and attended her women's music events, it is clear that she is a massive influence in the progress of these communities.
How do you picture your retirement?
To be honest, i have not thought too much about retirement, but I imagine it to be on my farms, with crops, massive acres of land, animals and community facilities created for the people.
What's your favorite color or zodiac sign? What does it say about you?
My favorite colors are yellows, canary, mustard, lemon, and blue - especially unique shades of blue like aqua. I'm a Taurus - we conquer earth forces.
Who/what were you in your past life?
LOL. In my past life, I was certainly a bird. A hummingbird to be specific.
In the most simplified way possible (max 3 words), how would you label yourself?
Determined, original, and free. I have always walked to my own rhythm. I have never been scared to go against the trends or grain, and I stand up for what I believe in.
What is your biggest failure and what did you learn from that experience?
Haha, yes! Right out of High school I was accepted to CSUN for Computer Science, I was placed on probation in my first two years and essentially kicked out. I learned that I had to be focused. So, I was... I started again at multiple community colleges obtained my first degree, then obtaining two more degree at Penn State with a Master's in Psychology of Leadership. You got to do what you love, even in school, or it won't work. Lesson learned.
What do people around you misunderstand about you most?
What most people misunderstand about me is that I am much more intentional than they assume. It's my greatest tool for gaining the advantage. People seem to like you much more when they believe they are smarter or better than you.
What are the most common myths in your world that would surprise people?
The most common myths in my world is that it takes money to make it. But no one ever tells you that buy-in, relativity and or influence is just as or sometimes more powerful than money.
What’s an “insult” you’ve received that you’re proud of?
That I am soooooo or too ambitious? Sometimes your ambitions can make others feel threatened, but that's not my problem. I'd rather be too ambitious, then not ambitious enough.
Who do you look up to?
My grandfather. He was known as Calypso or Charles Mac Niles. He spoke 8 languages, could play any instrument he touched and accomplished his dreams during a time that was not kind to Black/African American/African Islanders.
What's your favorite work or life hack?
Creating my LA 501c3, The Niles Foundation. I can help meet the needs of people they way that they want to be helped without having compromise my beliefs. The potential for creating greater communities and earnings is unlimited.
What keeps you up at night?
Unfinished work keeps me up at night, and programs that need greater plans. We really want to meet the needs of the community, so our people, team, finances, and goals must all be aligned. If they are unhinged, so am I.
What would be the title of the book about you—if your worst enemy wrote it?
"I Want to Hate Her So Bad, But I Don't Know Why."
What's the best advice someone has given to you?
"If you come to the table full, you'll never have to eat crumbs."
If you don’t like it, change it, if you can’t change it, change your attitude.
What project are you currently most excited about?
I am most excited about our SOMAH program that brings Solar On Multifamily Affordable Housing to South LA. This will not only help keep our environment clean, but tenants will receive credits back on their bills, property owners receive huge incentives and our youth in the buildings are automatically eligible for paid job training in Solar PV.
What are you looking forward to most?
A secret new food project that will change the way LA eats and shops.
What area are you looking for help with the most?
It's always grants, funding and more capital, but marketing and promotions are just as valuable.