Pinellas County Urban League Appoints Nikki Gaskin-Capehart as new president and CEO

Nikki Gaskin-Capehart has been appointed the Pinellas County Urban League’s new president and CEO. Photo courtesy of Imagine-Me-Images, LLC.

 PINELLAS COUNTY — Following a national search to recruit a new CEO, the Pinellas County Urban League’s board of directors announced Wednesday its selection of well-known executive Nikki Gaskin-Capehart as its new president and chief executive officer.

Set to begin work on Sept. 8, Gaskin-Capehart will be the first woman to lead the 46-year-old entity, succeeding the late Rev. Watson L. Haynes, II, who served for 10 years in the role.

Gaskin-Capehart emerged from a pool of candidates considered during a phased search process, begun in December 2022 and conducted in cooperation with the National Urban League.

“The board voted to select Nikki Gaskin-Capehart as the inter-generational leader that we need during this important time of transition for the Pinellas County Urban League,” said Rodney Wilson, board chairman.

A highly driven senior executive and change agent with over 25 years of experience, Gaskin-Capehart has a successful track record in leading economic and business growth initiatives and innovative youth and family development programs, with expertise in fields that include Small, Minority, and Women Business Enterprise development and governmental affairs.

Her prior career roles include service as outreach director for U.S. Congressman Jim Davis, deputy district director for U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and Urban Affairs director for the City of St. Petersburg as an appointee of former Mayor Rick Kriseman, a position she held for eight years.

In this role, she helped address the needs of disenfranchised residents and families, cultivated over two dozen partnerships and developed Urban Affairs’ four-fold focus on opportunity creation that included nurturing neighborhoods and families, connecting through cultural affairs and being a catalyst for commerce.

Gaskin-Capehart was a driving force in helping to develop Pinellas County’s largest Community Redevelopment Area, the South St. Petersburg CRA, generating $11 million in tax increment financing per year and helped spearhead the City’s My Brothers & Sisters Keeper initiative – an affiliate of the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

She also led St. Petersburg’s Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, focused on equitable redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant Site, and continues to serve as a partner on the National League of Cities and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Southern Cities Economic Inclusion Initiative.

Her most recent venture was as CEO of The Network of Gifted Consultants, where she led the inaugural year of the Florida Girls Initiative, a statewide network created to raise awareness and resources for policies and programs that help “at-promise” girls achieve their fullest potential.

“I am excited to be entrusted with the opportunity to lead an organization that I have such great respect for and build on Rev. Haynes’s legacy,” Gaskin-Capehart said. “There is great need in our community in the areas of economic mobility and resilience, housing affordability, education, health, equity, and inclusion. I look forward to working with our board of directors, staff, partners, and clients to achieve strategic goals in these and other areas.”

Congresswoman Castor praised the decision, saying, “Nikki will be an incredible asset to this vital institution and our neighbors across Pinellas County. She has a unique ability to convene and collaborate across various platforms and demographics to deepen impact in communities.”

Former Mayor Kriseman echoed the sentiment. He said of the news, “Nikki was instrumental in expanding the city’s partnership with the Urban League. I have no doubt she will bring the same spirit of excellence and innovation to her role as CEO of the agency.”

Gaskin-Capehart holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of South Florida. She is a graduate of the National Urban League’s Whitney M. Young Emerging Leader program, the America’s Leaders of Change program, and several other leadership development programs.

About the Pinellas County Urban League 

The Pinellas County Urban League is one of 90 affiliates in the National Urban League network, eight of them in Florida, serving over 300 communities. The League promotes economic empowerment through education and job training, housing and community development, workforce development, entrepreneurship, health, and quality of life. The League’s work and results are evident in the lives of the thousands of people it impacts each year.

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