• Quill Team

Women in Global Nonprofits: Gemma Bulos’ Winding Career Path

By Princess Usanase

The Quib had the honor of interviewing Gemma Bulos, CEO of A Single Drop For Safe Water and Director of Social Innovation and Impact at Kravis Leadership Institute, on October 19, 2017. From jazz singer to preschool teacher to social activist, Gemma Bulos had a jumbled and inspirational career path, teaching people to be open to new opportunities and demonstrating that every person can make a change.

Gemma Bulos started out as a professional Jazz singer in New York. During this time, she learned how to speak publicly, entertain, and read audiences. One day a friend told her she was great with kids, and, even though she had never done anything in the education field, Gemma Bulos knew she would figure it out just like how she learned to talk, walk, and sing. Shortly thereafter, she became a preschool teacher, where she taught herself how to tell stories, simplify messages, and come up with practical solutions. Gemma Bulos took these risky opportunities and gained new skills.

Her path took another turn on September 11, 2001. In response to the tragedy of 9/11, Gemma Bulos wrote the song “We Rise.” The song discusses peace and unity through the metaphor of water. She believed that one person could make a difference just like a drop of water could start a wave. Thus, Gemma Bulos changed her life again, selling all her belongings, and traveling the world in order to share her song and create her “Million Voice Choir.”

“We Rise” led her to become an activist in the global water crisis, turning her life in another new direction. During this time, Gemma Bulos deep- dived into the global water crisis and became invested in researching and implementing projects to assist with the cause. She attended a conference and proposed a solution to deal with unskilled well-builders in third world countries. As a result, she started her nonprofit A Single Drop For Safe Water and founded the Global Women’s Water Initiative. From starting these ventures, Gemma Bulos explained that, although she never expected to have such a large impact, her story proves that with a sense of drive anyone can change the world.

Life is a winding path, not an event. For Gemma Bulos her life was shaped by the different opportunities she grasped and the initiatives she took. She positively impacted thousands by using her voice as a tool for change and then created organizations to spread her message further. Everything is possible if you make the choice to learn, seek out opportunities, and be kind to one another.

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