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.

Whether you are a manager or a staff member, 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 addressing both the systemic causes of burnout, and the personal and collective responsibilities in preventing it.  Together, we can create regenerative cultures in the work environment that allow everyone - including you - to thrive, feel seen and feel supported.


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 conducting research, 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. Since then, I have been sharing the ideas and practices from The Vulnerable Humanitarian in book circles for individuals and for organisations.

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 heal from what has silenced me in the past, to use my voice with greater confidence, and to challenge systems of oppression and separation from a place of wholeness, vitality and purpose.

My wellbeing agenda is aimed at cultivating greater care, inclusivity and connection among change-makers, recognising that this is both a personal and a collective responsibility. 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. In addition to my book circle, 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 and receive a free chapter of The Vulnerable Humanitarian, plus a 25% discount code for the full book. The newsletter contains updates on my events and some reflections on ending burnout culture - and is very occasional so won't add too much to your inbox!

Receive a free chapter of The Vulnerable Humanitarian and a 25% discount code to buy the book, when you sign up to my newsletter