New Pinellas Urban League CEO focuses on housing, eqiuity

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Nikki Gaskin-Capehart
Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, president and CEO of Pinellas Urban League

Nikki Gaskin-Capehart has had a busy four months since she was named president and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, but her work has just begun.

Gaskin-Capehart took over the 46-year-old non-profit group in September, succeeding the Rev. Watson Haynes, a towering Pinellas civil rights leader who led the organization for a decade before his death in 2022.

“I really do look at it as a privilege to take what he started to the next level,” Gaskin-Capehart said

She told WMNF WaveMakers with Janet and Tom on Tuesday (Jan. 23) that she is in the midst of strategic planning that will set the course for the Urban League through 2030. The plan will focus on four priorities: education and community leadership; job training, placement and entrepreneurship;  housing and community development and health and quality of life. Community surveys and input are helping Gaskin-Capehart and her team build on existing programs and develop more, with a particular emphasis on affordable housing, equity and supporting the national Urban League’s focus on “defending democracy, demanding diversity and defeat poverty.”

Gaskin-Capehart previously owned her own financial services business and worked for two members of Congress.

As a city employee under St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, Gaskin-Capehart led the initial planning for the redevelopment of Tropicana Field. Affordable housing and equity are at play at the site, which will get a new baseball park for the Tampa Bay Ray as well as a massive redevelopment of the surrounding area, the former mostly black Gas Plant neighborhood.

At the helm of the Urban League, Gaskin-Capehart continues to push for equity in both the construction and the planning for affordable housing as part of that project. She said more attention should be paid to helping former Gas Plant residents return to their old neighborhood and become homeowners.

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