Gayla Gardner has found that giving is the ultimate gift. She acknowledges that one’s capacities to give time, talent and/or treasure differ, but firmly believes that any one of these simple acts of kindness changes lives for the better, both for the giver and the recipient.
Gayla is passionate about children and their opportunities to flourish. Early on she committed to a spirit of volunteerism through working with at-risk youth in areas of drug and alcohol abuse, health, education, self-esteem, art, mentoring, and fundraising. She organized and chaired The Color of Culture, the first fundraiser at the Imani School for Young Children. She founded an Interactive Mentoring Program that introduced minority children to successful adults who had overcome many similar childhood challenges. Since 1999, she has been committed to the growth and charitable efforts of the Twelve Days of Christmas, Inc., a non-profit that she co-founded with her daughter, that serves thousands of children in 6 cities: Houston, Oakland, DC, Dallas, New York and Atlanta, with interest groups in Detroit and Chicago. Seven years ago, Gayla further expanded both the fundraising and service component of Twelve Days by spearheading Chic Children for a Cause. This children’s fashion show specifically highlights children’s accomplishments, encourages their continued path of achievement, builds confidence, and showcases talent. The show is racially diverse and inclusive of children with special challenges with the goal to garner self-esteem, cultivate awareness, compassion, and generosity while lending financial support to the various service projects. Gayla is most proud of the hundreds of volunteers who partner in this journey of giving and seeing the resulting benefits.
Gayla is from Rocky Mount, Virginia and a graduate of Howard University. She has received numerous awards which most recently have included ABC-13’s Women of Distinction, the Audrey H. Lawson Impact Award, Houston Chronicle Best Dressed honoree, and the Women’s Home reNew and reDo Fashion Icon.
Gayla concludes that giving a lifelong commitment to her husband of 49 years, Donald, has been a gift that keeps on giving to include three incredible children and three beautiful granddaughters who all gift her with purpose and passion.