Beyond Aid podcast cover


Beyond Aid brings you stories about humanitarian actors and action that go beyond the challenging headlines to focus on how we can find hope and where we can find opportunities to drive change. Hosted by Jacob Kurtzer, Director and Senior Fellow with the Humanitarian Agenda at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and

Kirsten Gelsdorf, it features humanitarian leaders, practitioners, innovators, journalists, artists, and athletes who can help listeners relate to crisis contexts in new ways. All views, positions, and conclusions expressed here should be understood to be solely those of the speaker(s). Beyond Aid is produced by Liz Pulver.


Beyond Despair: Gretchen Steidle

In this episode, Kirsten Gelsdorf speaks with Gretchen Ki Steidle the founder of Global Grassroots, a mindfulness-based social venture incubator for women in East Africa. She shares evidence and examples of how applying the concepts and practices of conscious social change can help us more effectively and compassionately engage in crisis contexts.  She also leaves us with a mindfulness practice we can all use. 

Beyond Despair: Jahson and Rana

In this episode of Beyond Aid, Kirsten Gelsdorf speaks with Jahson Bull, lead guitarist of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. Jahson recounts how he learned to play music, the importance of song in crisis, and the privilege of bringing joy to those experiencing hardship. Following their conversation, Jake Kurtzer speaks with Rana who explains the challenges facing people with disabilities in Bangladesh and the way sports and athletic engagement can transform an individual’s sense of purpose and belonging.

Beyond the Camera: Waad and Dr. Hamza Al-Kateab

In this episode of Beyond Aid, Kirsten Gelsdorf speaks with Waad and Dr. Hamza al-Kateab, filmmakers and frontline humanitarian responders to the siege on Aleppo in Syria. Waad and Dr. Hamza share their journey to becoming international advocates and how their community gives them purpose.

Beyond News: Jessica Alexander

In this episode of Beyond Aid, Kirsten Gelsdorf speaks with Jessica Alexander, an editor at the New Humanitarian. Jessica shares what she has learned from reporting on the changes in humanitarian policy over the past two decades, why the sector needs to continue to improve, and if she is still optimistic about humanitarian aid.

Beyond Stagnation: Chris Houston

In this episode, Kirsten Gelsdorf speaks with Chris Houston, the former Director of Humanitarian Innovation for Grand Challenges Canada. Chris goes beyond the buzzword of innovation and shares inspiring examples of local and global responses to crises. He also talks about the power of combining global solidarity with local action and why we need to consider expanding the resources given to humanitarian response.

Beyond Leadership: Carolyn Miles

In this episode of Beyond Aid, Kirsten speaks with Carolyn Miles, former President and CEO of Save the Children. They explore examples of progress that have been achieved, the role of large global organizations in supporting local action, why telling positive stories is challenging, and advice she has for current humanitarian leaders.