Meet Nikki Gaskin-Capehart
LSPAA's November 2023 Alumni Spotlight
For this month's spotlight, we interviewed Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, President & CEO, Pinellas County Urban League.
What year did you graduate from Leadership St. Pete?
The best class ever—class of 1999.
What has been your involvement with LSP since you graduated?
After we graduated, I felt that I was too young to get involved with the Planning Committee because I initially applied to LSP when I was 23 and realized I needed to wait a year to be eligible, so I returned the following year to apply. I was accepted earning the designation of being the youngest ever accepted since LSP's inception at that time. I was the Community Affairs Officer for AmSouth Bank, now Regions Bank and almost everyone in my class was several years older than me.
In hindsight I wish I had become more involved post-graduation to build a deeper connection with Leadership St. Pete and possibly having an impact on recruiting more African-Americans to subsequent classes throughout the years.
What was your greatest takeaway from your LSP experience?
My greatest takeaway was the relationships I developed. Those relationships helped to support some of my career development as I grew professionally and because I started so young, I was able to connect later with people who also advanced in their careers. Building relationships with classmates helped to grow my network and open doors for other opportunities.
Have you visited your class project since its completion? If yes, how did it feel to revisit your work?
Yes, our class project was a Habitat for Humanity home build, the first of many that I would participate in over the years, and I feel proud whenever I see them. It was a fantastic bonding experience for my class.
What is your professional job and what do you do in it?
Two months ago, I was selected to serve as the President and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League. We are a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering the African American community and others by having a transformational impact in their lives.
We provide economic empowerment through supportive services in job training and placement, entrepreneurship, education programs for youth and families, home preservation, Affordable Care Act insurance navigation, emergency assistance, and other services. We have an amazing team that will continue to grow and improve our service to the community.
I am proud to have incorporated Mindful Movement of Florida’s Chair Yoga and Breathing practice with our team shortly after starting and they really look forward to it weekly. All of this is to nurture an environment that I call a Professional Culture United in Love (PCUL)
This position allows me to fuel my passion and purpose at the same time and I am loving it!
What are your hobbies during your free time?
I don’t have very much free time because of my new position. However, at the top of my list of hobbies is going to the spa, especially when I am traveling. My second hobby is a daily 6:00 am workout. I have been committed to it for a little over a year now and it has drastically elevated my energy level, mindfulness, and physical health.
My third hobby is golfing, and even though I am still not very good, I love it. I was drawn in as a founding member of the first African-American women’s golf associations in the area. It was called the Black Jewels Ladies Golf Association of Florida and started around 2006. Lorian Williams (LSP Class of 1989) was our founding president before her passing in 2008. The association dissolved around 2010.
What’s next for you?
What is next for me is what is current for me--living my best life. I just turned 50 and I am very proud to say that! I wholeheartedly embrace my cultural uniqueness and a major part of that is growing up in the Hip Hop Culture. The music genre also turned 50 with me this year. I often say that it speaks to who I am as a Generation Xer with a different outlook on leadership. I feel immensely blessed to be in a place in my life, where I can unapologetically work on the issues that are most important to me in the community while enjoying experiences and making memories with family and friends.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Yes. For all readers who are not an LSP alum, I would say go for it! I am a major proponent of leadership development. For example, I'm currently in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s (DST) Southern Region Pearls cohort, which is a leadership program. In the Pearls cohort we are learning about applying emotional intelligence methods in our approach to leadership responsibilities, a practice that I have long been committed to in my personal development journey. I believe that deeper study and continued learning helps me to be a better leader in all aspects of my life. I encourage readers to continue to seek additional leadership development opportunities and if you haven’t applied to LSP already, then apply!
I would also like readers to learn more about PCUL at www.pcul.org and share their ideas for the developing Vision 2030 plan by completing this community survey https://form.jotform.com/233164219804151 open to all Pinellas County residents and stakeholders.