About Me

Hello, I’m Gemma Houldey. If you are a humanitarian, charity worker or change-maker I am here to help you feel more purposeful and more confident in living by your values without burning out.

I can support you to be a leader and catalyst in creating more inclusive and caring work environments that are dedicated to ending cultures of oppression and inequality.

I firmly believe that we cannot cultivate genuine wellbeing and resilience in our workplaces without ‘walking the talk’ on justice, equity and accountability. Together, we can create personal and collective practices that honour your own values and aspirations as well respecting the lived experiences and needs of those with whom you work.


My work is inspired and informed by my own experience:

As a humanitarian and development professional, and human rights defender, with over 15 years of experience working with international NGOs and local civil society groups in East Africa and the Middle East.

I have suffered – and recovered – from burnout. And I have seen how lack of connection or insufficient support, and toxicity and separation within humanitarian and development settings, affects staff morale and their mental and physical health.

Since 2015 I have been researching and facilitating workshops and support programmes on creating more caring, inclusive cultures. In 2021 my first book was published – The Vulnerable Humanitarian: Ending Burnout Culture in the Aid Sector.

I have grown up with a lot of privilege in my life, but also with trauma, insecurity and grief. I know what it is like to feel excluded, unheard and unappreciated. And I also know what it feels like to live with purpose, to lean into discomfort and to grow in ways that contribute to greater fairness, wellbeing and justice for all.

My wellbeing agenda is aimed at helping you not only to overcome your own unhealthy beliefs and habits in your working environment, but also to liberate you from systems and practices that keep you and your colleagues playing small, or feeling unmotivated and disillusioned. In the words of Black activist, writer and ordained Zen priest angel Kyodo williams: “Love and Justice are not two. Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”

Contact me to arrange a free clarity call to establish your vision for ending burnout culture and how I can support you. I offer one-to-one mentoring, group workshops and staff care strategy development.

I have also been discussing these issues on different media platforms, including France 24, Voice of America, The Conversation and Open Democracy. You can also listen to some of my reflections on the challenges of aid work and how this affects us on the One Step Forward podcast and on the Embodying Change podcast.


Let's connect

You can read more about my professional skills and background via my LinkedIn page. Contact me directly if you would like to work with me, or alternatively sign up to my newsletter (which is very occasional) and receive a 25% discount code for my book, The Vulnerable Humanitarian.  

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