Za Gualay Consulting combines story, arts-based design, and facilitation with the multi-modal ingredients of Black, femme, Queer, Indigenous, African, speculative, and magical origins to co-create experiences that explore themes of healing, transformation, interdependence, and collaborative leadership while replenishing ourselves and in turn those who we feel accountable to. Za Gualay also offers research, writing, evaluation, strategic planning, and community outreach to organizations seeking contractional, flexible, and need based equity services. Za Gualay is especially dedicated to projects and organizations that center reproductive justice in global and regional settings with a focus on uplifting the BIPOC community perinatal health workforce to address disparities in quality maternal and newborn health care.

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Micknai Arefaine (she/they) is a cultural organizer, educator, chef, and doula. She holds a Masters in Applied Anthropology from Oregon State University. She is the owner of Za Gualay Consulting, where she works with organizations that are looking for deeply transformative and holistic experiences that center justice, equity, belonging, healing, and dismantling the systems of oppression. She designs and facilitates experiences that help empower collaborators to dream up and co-create alternative ways of living, laboring, loving, shaping spaces and time, and inhabiting the land together. She has received several awards for her culturally aware and equity-focused leadership. She enjoys cooking for her business, @habeshaflav0r, organizing with The BlaQQiln Collective, strolling around Baltimore, and nerding out on science fiction and herbalism. 


My work is deeply rooted in my relationships with Ethiopian women in my life, past, present, and future. The Tigrinya term, Za Gualay, translates directly to “my daughter” and is a term of endearment. It is difficult to put into words the feelings of pride, warmth, and abiding love that wash over me when I am called this, especially by women elders in my communities. Za Gualay encompasses many of the reasons I chose to work as a cultural organizer. These women model, express, and reflect values of love, relationality, trust, care, stability, self-determination, spirituality, and futurity. I hope to share these ways of knowing and being in relation to self, each other, and our earth with you all so that we can transform our collective worlds.




Redlining Map of Baltimore by Evan Tachovsky

Za Gualay is physically based in Baltimore, Maryland, where its founder, Micknai Arefaine lives and works. You can choose in-person and remote collaborations depending on your needs. 

Za Gualay has cultivated relationships transnationally with consultants in the United States, Palestine, Sweden, Germany, Ethiopia, and Brazil.  Beyond phone and virtual meeting platforms, Micknai has traveled to Oregon and Alabama to support clients and facilitate workshops. She designs and facilitates Zoom experiences to effectively mirror in-person sessions by implementing creative strategies such as having art supplies shipped to participants in advance of virtual workshops. 

Set up a 15-minute discovery call with Za Gualay to learn more about how we can partner. 



Accountability Partnership

Engage willing organizations in a collaborative process to align vision, mission, goals, and action. An accountability partner is a supportive person to think with and alongside organizations.  Za Gualay brings another perspective into the room that can be integrated into organizational decision making and program design processes.

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Keynotes and Panels

Micknai Arefaine is an award-winning cultural organizer, consultant, and facilitator. She has been honored with numerous awards, including the E.C. Allworth Cultural Awareness Leadership Award and Scholarship.

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Workshop Design and Facilitation

Za Gualay founder, Micknai Arefaine, is trained as an anthropologist with a concentration in decolonized, indigenous, and Black feminist research design. She can organize a team of experienced researchers, writers, and educators depending on the needs of your organization.

Research and Writing

Clients can choose from existing workshop formats or work with Za Gualay to build custom workshops geared to meet their specific needs. Za Gualay works with a myriad of experienced facilitators all over the world.



Micknai employs an ethic of care and a foresightful approach to her work that brings together people in a healing and mindful way. She facilitated a leadership workshop for our community and we were so impressed with her contributions that we invited her back to give the keynote address out our Multicultural Graduation, a marquee event that brings together over 600 people in celebration of our BIPOC graduating scholars. I look forward to working with her again in the future.

Cynthia Gomez Executive Director, Cultural Resource Centers, Portland State University Multicultural Student Services

I am in awe of Micknai’s ability to bring a group of very different people with varying backgrounds into accordance, and create collaborative space that draws on and values the strengths of all participants, regardless of where each is coming from. The meetings she leads have been some of the most intellectually productive sessions I have ever participated in, and her skills in creating an emotionally-connected shared workspace is a rare and valuable talent.

Kalera Stratton, MS, MPH PhD Epidemiology student, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Micknai was our keynote speaker for our annual Juneteenth celebration 2020. Our theme was freedom forward. She thought so well about our community; she led with love; she helped us imagine possibilities for our organization and helped us see how much we needed each other to be free. She did this by helping us see the ways power, privilege, and greed fuel racism, capitalism and white supremacy and giving us a path forward through healing and loving connections!

Christopher Hughbanks Corvallis/Albany NAACP, Kalapuya Land

Micknai facilitated two, wonderful, four-hour professional development workshops for our Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama. Micknai custom-designed these workshops to encourage students and faculty to think holistically about the intra- and interpersonal attributes of our department and how they affect the creation of our pathway toward decolonizing our department’s work. These workshops were extremely helpful for getting to the core of what our department needed. Micknai’s ability to customize training activities with minimal interactions from the broader department and to pivot her approach (as needed) between the first and second workshops was exceptional. She created a space for us to do this meaningful work, guiding us to discuss difficult matters in a productive way.

Dr. Holy Horan Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama

My office reached out to Micknai to request her facilitation in our community agreements process. From the first planning meeting we had with Micknai, we knew that her guidance and support on this process were going to be one of care and consideration around our team dynamics, communication, and schedules. During each session, Micknai created a welcoming virtual space for the team, offering opportunities for grounding, mindfulness exercises, and story circles in both small and large group formats. In addition to guidance on co-creating community agreements, Micknai also provided our team with sessions on understanding our conflict styles as well as giving and receiving feedback.

Raiza L. Dottin, Ed.D. (she/her/ella) Associate Director of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, Office of Academic Innovation (OAI), Portland State University