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Bonnie's Story

Bonnie Gillespie in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Just ten miles or so from where B.B. King started singing the blues, and around a 100 miles from Faulkner’s house with handwriting still scrawled crazily on the wall, was my Mississippi Delta home. Farmland stretched out in an uninterrupted ripple across the flat terrain, and crickets and tractors were the nosiest things around. It’s the kind of place where sometimes people never leave, but I have never been one to sit still.

So with my college degree freshly in hand, I packed up for the furthest place away on the planet that I could venture -- China, where I taught English and began my own crash course on communicating across cultures. For perhaps the first time, my passion was ignited for exploring diversity and differences, for finding that thread of connection that unites us all.

My search for stories has carried me likely millions of miles since then, to inner city Dallas where I learned how to use my camera to capture life in the shadows, and later onto graduate school to refine my skills as a budding journalist. I traipsed around Israel during a not-so-safe season, camera and notebook in hand, and later around the U.S., to wildfires and hurricanes and calamities of all kinds, sharing the plight of those in the path of destruction and raising funds for their recovery.

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami changed the lives of millions forever, and mine was among them. My immersion in response efforts drew me back to Indonesia for a long-term mission, where I discovered the enormous diversity of communications tools needed in a relief and recovery operation. Among them was advocacy, an area of work I later entered full time, thriving in building coalitions and sharing successes in global health.

But above the clamor of Washington politics, or the roar of the world’s busiest cities, the song of the South called me home. So, I packed up my decade plus of globe-trotting and skills cultivated along the way and returned happily, thankfully, to a place where I can breathe deeply and hear the birds sing.

Gillespie Communication is the culmination of a journey, one that is far from over. Instead of limiting my work to one organization or cause, my services are now open to all who share my vision that changing lives for the better starts with communities themselves. Compassion for people and a respect for cultures guide my work, as I seek to bring voices and faces often unheard and unseen to the global conversation. Their successes (and yours) are just waiting to be shared.

 

Bonnie's (More Official) Vital Stats

  • Eleven years diverse experience in communication, advocacy, journalism, disaster relief and development
  • Appointed Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health, Behavior and Society
  • Trained in Strategic Leadership for Transformation of Health Systems in Developing Countries at Johns Hopkins University
  • Certified as a Psychosocial Support Crisis Intervention Specialist, as well as in Safety and Security in Humanitarian Emergencies, International Humanitarian Law, and Advanced Disaster Services at American Red Cross
  • Masters degree in Journalism; bachelors degree in English