Amikaeyla Gaston

Amikaeyla Gaston is a force for change. She creates environments that support people in exploring themselves and uses creativity and strategic questioning to support people in addressing their fears, developing a place where everyone has an equal voice. She has led corporations, universities, government and nonprofit organizations through cultural competency & racial equity training. She has done expansive work in the health arena for over the past 20 years and travels the world extensively as a cultural arts ambassador for the state department bringing together artists and healers of all forms and from all specialties to promote healing and wellness through the arts & activism. Her programming and work with refugees and at-risk children, youth and families has been utilized and implemented by the Department of Health & Human Services, The American Psychological Association and US Consulate General’s Cultural Affairs office, taking her around the world to Israel, Beirut, Amman, Damascus, Palestine, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Nigeria & Sierra Leone just to name a few.

“What drew me to diversity work,” she says, “is the deep desire to be part of change, to be part of the solution-making process, the conversation-making process. I’ve always been an activist, and I’ve always been outspoken. My nickname in high school was ‘the bridge’ because I was comfortable with everyone. It was a mosh pit at my house. Everybody was there, and everyone was going to share what they were feeling. It was just the thing.”

In 1992, Amikaeyla survived a hate crime that killed her, and luckily she came back to life.  She was targeted and intentionally run over by a truck while walking through a field of flowers and spent a year and a half in the ICU and burn ward healing herself and alleviating her pain by discovering the power of music.  She brings this experience of personal restoration to her work as a World Trust facilitator.

Her use of meditation and music is a perfect match for the creative diversity workshop activities she uses to engage participants and spur community building among them. Beyond that, she is highly in tune with the dynamics of the group.


“The skill that I try to bring to the table is extreme awareness,” Ami says. “As a speaker, performer, and facilitator, I have to have my eyes, ears, and feelers out. I’ve got to be able to hold the room, watch everybody and know what’s going on so that I can help steer this humongous ship through rough water.”

Amikaeyla is the Founder and Executive Director of the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute (ICAHSI). As a musician, she uses her voice as a catalyst for the voices of those that are not often heard. Due to her work and studies with traditional healers and cultural artists, coupled with her interest in the biological and psychological healing effects of music, she was invited to perform in India at the request and invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Inaugural Festival of Sacred Chanting and Singing for the commemoration of the Golden Buddha.

She is a nuanced thought-leader and a sought-after public speaker and performer and has appeared internationally on numerous radio and television programs performing and speaking and her continued work in radio, tv, & film has led to appearances on PBS, HBO, and in the Sundance Film Festival.  She is the proud recipient of the Voss Foundation Emerging Leaders Women Helping Women Award, Global Woman Award, the CIBA-GEIGY Outstanding Community Service Award, the Pioneer Award for Exemplary Leadership and Outstanding Service in Social Justice and Advocacy Award, the Nation’s Capital Mayoral Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts, the Hero for Peace and Forgiveness award, and 12 Washington Area Music Awards. She is a featured presenter and trainer on Conflict Management, Resolution, and Cultural Competency in nonprofit and health organizations throughout the nation.

WHAT CLIENTS SAY ABOUT AMI

“Amikaeyla doesn’t hesitate to go to the place that moves you. In a training designed to educate and bring awareness to health care providers about LGBT health care needs, she led hundreds of trainings with professionals. Her “team approach” and healthy ability to create a respectful place for all individuals allows for deeper understanding of difficult concepts,” says Amari Sokoya Pearson-Fields of the District of Columbia Department of Health.

“Ami sheds light on ways to heal and reignite life,” says Kristi Rendahl, Director of Prairie Talks. “She transforms places and spaces through song, sound and expression. I’d say she brings a joyful way to talk about hard topics such as race and gender equality.”

“Ami is phenomenal!” says Marci Alboher, Vice President of Marketing and Communications of Encore.org. “She brought energy, passion and wisdom to this work and to our group. We feel like we accomplished our goals and were especially appreciative that she took the time to understand our group and tailor the program to what we needed. Thank you!”