Yolo Akili

Keynote Speaker

Yolo Akili Robinson is a writer, yoga teacher, and the Executive Director and founder of BEAM, Black Emotional and Mental Health.  For over 15 years, Yolo has been on the forefront of progressive wellness work.

Yolo began his career in public health supporting Black communities as an HIV/AIDS counselor. He then branched into violence prevention, working as a family intervention counselor with Black men and boys for Men Stopping Violence. Feeling strongly about the need for more feminist work with men, Yolo co-founded Sweet Tea: Southern Queer Men’s Collective, a collective of gay and queer men who came to come together to address sexism and misogyny in LGBT communities.  In 2015, he was recruited by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to lead a 10 million dollar National Institutes of Health research initiative focusing on improving health outcomes for young Black and Latino men, the Healthy Young Men’s study (HYM).

Alongside Robinson’s counseling and training work, he has written and been featured in numerous publications on wellness including the Women’s Journal, GQ, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Shondaland, The Mighty.com, Ebony, The Huffington Post, and Everyday Feminism(s). He is also the author of the social justice themed affirmation book “Dear Universe: Letters of Affirmation & Empowerment For All Of Us, a book which led him to be named a “Health Hero” By BET.Com. In 2009, he was awarded a ZAMI scholarship to complete his 200 level certification as a Hatha yoga teacher. In 2020, Yolo was featured on BET Awards “Empowerful Spotlight” for his work with BEAM.

Robinson’s commitment to increasing the accessibility and visibility of health and wellness issues also has opened the door for many speaking engagements. He has delivered keynotes at numerous universities, colleges and conferences such as Vanderbilt, Claremont Mckenna, Ramapo College and Columbia University.

At the core of Yolo’s work is a commitment to wellness informed by social justice. His interests are the practical embodiment of theory into systems and practices that help heal, transform and support Black communities. He makes his home in Los Angeles, California.