The 2021 Walden Awards honorees are a remarkable group of New Thought and socially conscious leaders—including artists, healers, teachers, ministers, activists, and other spiritual visionaries—who work hard in creative ways to transform our world.

New Thought Wisdom

This image has an empty alt attribute

Lisa Nichols is a self-empowerment expert, life coach, and motivational speaker who lights up every stage she sets foot on. In her mid-20s, as a single mother on welfare with less than $12 in the bank, she vowed to transform her life, defining herself by her truth instead of by her circumstances. She’s now the founder and CEO of Motivating the Masses, Inc., with a global platform that’s reached nearly 80 million people. Nichols is also the author of seven books, including the New York Times best seller No Matter What!: 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love (Wellness Central, 2009). She also founded the nonprofit foundation Motivating the Teen Spirit, which has served more than 270,000 teens. You’ve seen her in the 2006 movie The Secret. Visit motivatingthemasses.com.

Listen to Lisa Nichols on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

don Miguel Ruiz Jr. became an apprentice at age 14 to his father, don Miguel Ruiz Sr. (a nagual or shaman), and his grandmother, Madre Sarita (a well-known holistic healer in Southern California, born and raised in Mexico). A direct descendant of the Toltec Eagle Knight lineage, Ruiz is the author of five books, including The Five Levels of Attachment: Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World (Hierophant, 2013). He teaches that our beliefs create our reality, which the Toltec tradition calls our personal dream. Because we are the artists of our own lives, we can use awareness, understanding, and unconditional love to free ourselves from our inhibiting beliefs and express our true potential. Ruiz leads international retreats along with his father and brother (don Jose Ruiz). Visit miguelruizjr.com.

Listen to don Miguel Ruiz Jr. on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Rev. Joan Steadman spent nine years as a Roman Catholic nun but now considers herself an ordinary mystic. To Steadman, mysticism is the art of reality, and all that’s needed is the power of the present moment, the eternal now. She advises paying attention to attention—the thoughts that take over—and then continually pulling ourselves into the present to touch the Divine. Steadman received an honorary doctorate of divinity degree from both the Centers for Spiritual Living and Agape International Spiritual Center and has been inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers. She is an award-winning author and teacher who offers New Thought retreats nationwide. A founding member of Agape, Steadman now serves as the senior minister at Agape Bay Area in Piedmont, California. Visit agapebayarea.com.

Listen to Rev. Joan Steadman on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


Interfaith and Intercultural Understanding

This image has an empty alt attribute

Grandmother Flordemayo is a curandera espiritu—a healer of divine spirit—born into a lineage of healers in the highlands of Central America. She is a Maya priestess, trained by Quiche Maya elder don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj. Following a vision in 2012, she founded a nonprofit organization called The Path in rural New Mexico that preserves and shares heirloom seeds—seeds she sees as a living library of the cultural memories of the people who cultivated them. In this way, she is preserving indigenous heritage as she keeps the seeds viable for future generations. Flordemayo is a founding member of both the Confederation of Indigenous Elders of the Americas and the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers and speaks regularly at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Visit followthegoldenpath.org.

Listen to Grandmother Flordemayo on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, a leader in Kriya Yoga meditation, calls her grandmother her “first guru” because she taught O’Brian lessons in “uprightness,” in self-honesty and dignity. O’Brian promotes “engaged enlightenment,” which she defines as the “courage to be authentically who or what we are.” She leads retreats and classes internationally, cohosts a show on Unity Online Radio, and is the founder of Carry the Vision, a community nonviolence education project bringing meditation instruction to schools, prisons, and other segments of society. She’s also chaired the partner cities program of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Her books include The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga (New World Library, 2018) and the poetry collection The Moon Reminded Me (Homebound Publications, 2017). Visit ellengraceobrian.com.

Listen to Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Milagros Phillips, known as “The Race Healer,” is a preeminent race literacy expert who was born in the Dominican Republic during a period of brutal dictatorship and moved to the U.S. at age 10. Race literacy under Phillips’ tutelage (watch her TEDx talk) offers new and creative education on who is (and is not) seen as important. Her work fosters an understanding of history, and the parts left out, to illuminate often unseen disparities and inequities. For three years, Phillips cofacilitated Conversations on Race, a program helping members of Congress craft productive conversations about race that lead to community action. She’s the author of four books, including the self-published Cracking the Healer’s Code (2021), and is founding director of the National Resource Center for the Healing of Racism. Visit milagrosphillips.com.

Listen to Milagros Phillips on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


Social and Environmental Activism

This image has an empty alt attribute

Seane Corn is one of the most high-profile yoginis on the planet (never mind that she got sick after her first class at age 19). In addition to her scores of instructional videos, she’s also known for her impassioned style and raw, honest self-expression. Corn brings awareness to issues such as social justice, sex trafficking, white privilege, HIV/AIDS, generational poverty, and animal rights. In 2007, she and two other industry leaders cofounded Off the Mat, Into the World, a global community-focused leadership training organization for activists. (It’s no wonder the Smithsonian gave her a humanitarian award.) More recently, she launched an online yoga program called Revolution Within to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. Corn is also the author of Revolution of the Soul (Sounds True, 2019). Visit seanecorn.com.

Listen to Seane Corn on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.

This image has an empty alt attribute

Kelly Fair understands “that you can’t be what you can’t see.” That vision eventually inspired the former high school and university speech pathologist to create a mentor program for young Black and brown girls so they would see powerful, successful women in action. She matched the girls with VIPs and CEOs, powerhouse leaders who could represent their future. Her Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, founded in 2009 in Chicago with only two mentees, now spans across 100 sites nationwide and has served more than 4,000 girls. Fair is an award-winning author, speaker, community organizer, and entrepreneur who focuses on fostering communication skills in Black girls so their innate power can flourish. She also serves on the U.S. Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Taskforce. Visit kellykaefair.com.

Listen to Kelly Fair on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Eisha A. Mason, master practitioner at the Agape International Spiritual Center in Beverly Hills, California, spearheaded the launch of the first Season for Nonviolence in Los Angeles in 1998. She speaks on race and social justice with fierce compassion and wisdom, advocating for the “soul work of social change,” and offers that all traumas are collective. She facilitates ways to process wounds that seem impenetrable. She assists her students with the often painful confrontation of looking within without blame or judgment to notice their own role in institutional racism. Mason has received numerous accolades and honors including the Courageous Peacemaker Award. She has also served as the founding executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence. Visit eishamason.com.

Listen to Eisha A. Mason on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


Creative Arts and Entertainment

This image has an empty alt attribute

Karen Drucker taught herself to play and compose music on Carole King’s piano. In a serendipitous twist of fate, her bedroom became the storage unit for the famous singer-songwriter’s instrument for a few months when Drucker (who babysat for King’s children) was 15 and growing up in Hollywood. Easy-listening, California rock vibes sway through Drucker’s inspirational, classic pop-infused song catalog. She’d always known she was meant to perform, and when a friend asked her to fill in as the singer at a New Thought church, her true calling landed. Since then, Drucker has produced 20 CDs filled with songs that uplift, heal, and empower. She performs across the country and also hosts women’s retreats while creating music that encourages gratitude, standing in power, and noticing the miraculous and sacred in everyday life. Visit karendrucker.com.

Listen to Karen Drucker on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Marianne Lewis is the director of the music and arts ministry at the Agape International Spiritual Center in Beverly Hills, California, as well as director of the multicultural Agape International Choir. During the pandemic, she harnessed technology to not only allow the choir to continue performing virtually, but also to add singers in other countries to form the Agape International Global Choir. Lewis also created the Unconditional Soul Ensemble, which has appeared on national television and on stage with Stevie Wonder. As an inspirational coach and licensed spiritual practitioner, Lewis leads workshops such as “Finding Your Authentic Voice” and “Awakening Your Inner Rockstar.” In addition, she’s the founder and creative director of NuGroove Enterprises, a company dedicated to creating conscious entertainment and education products. Visit mariannelewis.com.

Listen to Marianne Lewis on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Daniel Nahmod is a singer-songwriter and producer known for his spirit-focused, inspirational songs. Deepak Chopra, M.D., referred to Nahmod’s wildly popular “One Power” as “the anthem of the new humanity.” Nahmod has released more than 23 albums to audiences of millions across popular platforms, and his music has been licensed by the Super Bowl, Saturday Night Live, and American Idol, among others. During the COVID pandemic, he took to Facebook Live, performing concerts for a world in crisis. Across his career as a musical artist and humanitarian, Nahmod has shown up to sing in prisons, hospitals, homeless shelters, schools, churches, and even the Houston Astrodome when it housed New Orleanians left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. He’s a 2021 recipient of Unity Worldwide Ministries’ Light of God Expressing in Society Award. Visit danielnahmod.com.

Listen to Daniel Nahmod on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


Mind/Body Connection and Healing

This image has an empty alt attribute

Joe Dispenza, D.C., is a master of manifestation. This New York Times best-selling author, researcher, and lecturer uses the latest findings from neuroscience, epigenetics, and quantum physics to teach others how to rewire their brains, heal their bodies, and raise their consciousness. After miraculously healing from a spinal cord injury that threatened to paralyze him for life, Dispenza became fascinated with the body’s ability to heal. He began interviewing people who had experienced spontaneous remissions to see what they had in common. He’s now led countless advanced workshops around the world teaching meditations that have healed people in real time. Of his four books, the latest is Becoming Supernatural (Hay House, 2017). You’ve seen him in the 2004 film What the BLEEP Do We Know!? Visit drjoedispenza.com.

Listen to Joe Dispenza, D.C., on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Anita Moorjani lay in a Hong Kong hospital bed in a coma, dying of lymphoma, in 2006. Her doctors told her family she had only 36 hours to live, since her organs were starting to shut down. Yet her consciousness was more alive than ever, surrounded by pure, healing, unconditional love in the midst of a full-blown near-death experience. When she awoke, her lemon-size tumors had vanished and within mere weeks her body was totally cancer-free. Not long after, the late Wayne Dyer, Ed.D., discovered Moorjani and made her his protégé. She’s now the New York Times best-selling author of five books and an international lecturer, sharing the profound insights she gained in the other realm about our purpose: to love ourselves fully and be ourselves fearlessly. Visit anitamoorjani.com.

Listen to Anita Moorjani on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Bernadette Pleasant, somatic healer, is nothing short of a luminous force of nature. She promotes emotional freedom through movement and empowerment. As a speaker and teacher, Pleasant commands stages with impassioned charisma, often flowing into dance that makes “emotional consciousness” seem effortless. She’s the founder of both The Emotional Institute and Femme! (a mind-body wellness program), where her somatic-based “400 Years” program aims to unlock racism though gentle attendance to “wounded spirit, ego, and privilege.” Because bias and racism lurk in the body, she teaches, they perpetuate unawareness. Pleasant offers a deeply empathetic path to radical empathy that leads to anti-racism. It all happens through body work as empowerment and self-awareness. “We don’t get over,” she says, “we get through,” because all emotions are valid and deserving of expression. Visit theemotionalinstitute.com.

Listen to Bernadette Pleasant on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


Next Generation

This image has an empty alt attribute

Bayo Akomolafe, Ph.D., 38, is a poet, philosopher, and professor who believes we need a radical paradigm shift in our consciousness and current ways of living. He is cofounder and the executive director of The Emergence Network, an alliance of artists, academics, and activists reframing social and environmental problems. The son of a diplomat, Akomolafe was born to Yoruba parents in western Nigeria and received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology after doing research into Yoruba indigenous healing systems. He’s a consultant with UNESCO, and with his wife developed the first International Workshop on Alternative Research Paradigms and Indigenous Knowledge Promotion in 2011. He describes himself as a post-activist, offering that the way we respond to crisis may in fact be part of the crisis. Visit bayoakomolafe.net.

Listen to Bayo Akomolafe, Ph.D., on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Mona Haydar, 33, is a rap artist and activist born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from Syria. Her 2017 rap video Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab) went viral, prompting Billboard to name it one of the top feminist anthems of all time. She had already received international attention two years previously when she and her husband created their “Ask a Muslim” booth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offering free coffee and donuts and inviting dialogue and questions in the wake of the 2015 Paris and San Bernardino, California, terrorist attacks. In addition to performing her poetry and music, Haydar leads writing and activism workshops and speaks at universities about art, Islam, feminism, hip-hop, theology, and interfaith understanding. She’s also been a speaker at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Visit monahaydar.com.

Listen to podcast interviews with many of the 2021 honorees on unityonlineradio.org.


This image has an empty alt attribute

Autumn Peltier, 17, says one of her proudest moments came at age 12, when she told off the Canadian prime minister. That’s when the clean water warrior first realized her voice held power. Her activism began when she was 8, after she plainly recognized what so many adults miss—the fact that clean water is a basic human right. Peltier is a citizen of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. She is a member of the Anishinabek Nation, where she’s been chief water commissioner since 2019. Her advocacy springs from Anishinaabekwe teachings on the sacred protection of Mother Earth and nibi (water). Peltier has been widely lauded across the globe, including being a three-time nominee for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Follow her on Instagram @autumn.peltier.

Listen to podcast interviews with many of the 2021 honorees on unityonlineradio.org.


Spirit of Inclusion

Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, D.Min., is a third-generation preacher who left the Pentecostal church she grew up in after she came out as gay. She dove into activism and eventually felt called to create a new church to “blend proclamation, worship, service, and advocacy on behalf of those most marginalized in church and in society.” In 1991, Flunder founded an independent church in Oakland, California, that she named City of Refuge—a radically inclusive ministry. In 2003, Flunder was consecrated presiding bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multidenominational coalition of more than 100 primarily African-American Christian leaders and laity. She is also an award-winning gospel music artist and author of Where the Edge Gathers: Building a Community of Radical Inclusion (Pilgrim Press, 2005). Visit cityofrefugeucc.org.

Listen to Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, D.Min., on the UOR New Thought Walden Awards Podcast Series at unityonlineradio.org.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Rev. Catherine Ponder, ordained a Unity minister in 1958, was once described as “the Norman Vincent Peale among lady ministers” because of her pioneering work in positive thinking. Soon after her ordination (by Lowell Fillmore, son of the founders of Unity), she began teaching a biweekly prosperity class, which became the basis for her first book, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity (Prentice-Hall, 1962). Ponder served four Unity churches and founded three of them, including a global ministry based in California that she still heads today, well into her 90s. Many of Ponder’s 17 books have been best sellers. The Association of Unity Churches (now called Unity Worldwide Ministries) awarded her an honorary doctor of divinity degree in 1976, and in 1990, Unity Worldwide Ministries gave her its Light of God Expressing in Unity Award. Visit unityworldwide.com.

Listen to podcast interviews with many of the 2021 honorees on unityonlineradio.org.


Champion for Justice Award

Bryan Stevenson, J.D., founded the Equal Justice Initiative, received the MacArthur genius grant, and earned two degrees from Harvard—and he’s still been threatened by police. Stevenson calls on all Americans to stop being casual and indifferent about bigotry and racial violence. His best-selling memoir Just Mercy (Spiegel & Grau, 2014) was adapted into a major motion picture about the young lawyer’s courageous work to free wrongly convicted Black men on death row. Stevenson’s lifelong work exposes systemic injustices in the legal system—the built-in racial and economic inequities that disproportionately target the most vulnerable. The award-winning author, attorney, and advocate helped create the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and has received countless awards, more than 40 honorary doctorates, and the prestigious American Bar Association Medal. Visit eji.org/bryan-stevenson.

Listen to podcast interviews with many of the 2021 honorees on unityonlineradio.org.

More

No Results