BY LYNN EDMONDS
Twenty-four years of service to the federal government may have been the most obvious outgrowth of Bhitihara Fulton’s directive to give back to the community.
Growing up, Fulton’s parents instilled in her both admiration for America as well as an impulse to make the country a better place.
Fulton’s father, a protestant minister, and her mother, a librarian, were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Fulton described her childhood as “inundated in American history,” with an awareness of ancestors who came to the United States for religious and political freedom.
When Fulton was in second grade, her family moved to Pennsylvania from North Carolina. A few years later, her parents enrolled her in a private school because they were not happy with the quality of the local public schools.
But the next year, they decided to place her in public school. Rather than interacting primarily with more affluent families, they wanted her to be part of the broader community.
That decision may have further informed Fulton’s own commitment to and respect for public institutions.
But at an even younger age, around 11 or 12, that Fulton started reading Time magazine articles on political affairs.
Today, she still avidly follows local, state, national and international affairs.
That interest translated naturally into a career working for the State Department, where Fulton spent most of her career, until retiring in 2014. She worked in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, supporting U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations and their staff in her capacity as an Information Technology Trainer.
“I made my living by talking,” Fulton said upon sitting down for her interview. She explained that the job wasn’t as much about computer programs as much as it was about the ability to communicate with people and convey information.
We met in a favorite café of Fulton’s, Panorama of My Silent Heart, on Parson’s Boulevard. Dedicated to the spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, who was based in Queens until he passed away in 2007, the cafe plays calm music in the background of a room painted a cheerful yellow and decorated with artwork, Hindu Gods, and flowers.
A member of Chinmoy’s meditation group, Fulton began meditation back in 1983 when she needed to undertake a surgery, and has been doing it ever since. She credits it as helping her through the daily stresses of a high-powered career.
Throughout that entire career, Fulton has been living here in Queens, where she moved in 1985.
“I love Queens. It’s my neighborhood; I live here. And most fascinating to me is it’s the most multi-ethnic neighborhood in the United States,” Fulton said.
She is interested in advocating for the areas parks, education, homelessness and hunger, sanitation, and quality of life issues.
Before joining the board, she was active in the Jamaica Hill Association and advocated for improvements to Captain Tilly Park, a nine-acre park near the former Jamaica High School that is “heavily used.”
She hopes her background as an educator and team builder as well as her experience working for the federal government will help her make a meaningful contribution to the board.
Reach Reporter Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ellinoamerikana