Nickolas Gaines is a highly skilled trainer, facilitator, counselor, lecturer,  and policy director.  He has a long career dedicated to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being and guiding people to find their own resilience and strength.

Nickolas is the Suicide Prevention Program Manager for the Department of Defense, serving over 11,000 Soldiers across 26 states, their family members, and Department of the Army Civilians. He oversees education, training, program implementation, policy development, postvention care, and crisis response.

He previously served as an Army Officer and Chaplain, holding space for Soldiers’ catharsis. He helped Soldiers process major life events (moral injury, crisis of faith, grief/loss, trauma, reintegration, etc.) and facilitated relational reconciliation to God, self, and others.

As an educator with PREP, Inc (in conjunction with the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies), Nickolas teaches and develops curriculum centered on healthy families and deconstructing toxic masculinity, so that men can be more fully present with the full range of their emotions and be better fathers, partners, husbands and members of society. His academic research focuses on the construction, performance, and policing of Black masculinity and its impact on the family structure.

Nickolas' commitment to intergenerational empowerment is demonstrated through his past work as a Student Affairs Professional running university orientation programs, writing and implementing policy for diversity and inclusion to benefit under represented and marginalized student demographics, helping non traditional and first generation college students achieve degree completion as their Academic Advisor, or teaching multiculturalism and leadership development to community college students. These efforts are further echoed serving as a Family Life Pastor and as a Program Director with the Boys and Girls Club in Chicago. Working with youth to articulate their vision, he stood with them to overcome obstacles including unsupportive families, hostile learning environments, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and transphobia.

Nickolas wants to amplify the power, might, and resilience of marginalized communities, particularly communities of color. While he believes in the strength of the human spirit, Nickolas recognizes people of color work to love themselves, their families, and be their best and highest selves in a world that constantly seeks to demean and belittle their unique expressions of culture, love, and joy.

His own journey of healing through complex and painful family dynamics shaped his core value that when we heal -- and while we heal -- we must reach back and pull our people with us.

Nickolas is a dedicated father with an insatiable appetite for life, travel, good music, fashion, dancing, playing, and food. And the food better be well-seasoned. When he's not working, he spends his time seeing live concerts and traveling, playing superhero games with his sons, using coconut oil, luxuriating in black joy, and laughing out loud.


  • MDiv, Tennessee Temple University, Chattanooga, TN, 2015
  • Clinical Pastoral Education, Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, 2013
  • Graduate, United States Army Chaplain Center and School, Fort Jackson, SC, 2012
  • Graduate Certificate, Veteran's Behavioral Health, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Washington, DC, 2012
  • MA, Urban Ministry, Moody Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL, 2012
  • BA, American Multicultural Studies, African American Humanities,  Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN, 2007