Deb Kull ’03 Engages in Humanitarian Efforts to Transform Lives

posted 2012.11.15

Deb Kull’s reach has been felt from as far away as Malawi and as close as here in the Triangle. As a development officer with the California-based Global AIDSInterfaith Alliance (GAIA), Kull organizes fundraising efforts for HIV/AIDS work and related activities to enhance the lives of people in Malawi.

“In a place like Malawi, where GAIA does its work, the U.S. Dollar goes so far,” says Kull. “I saw this first-hand — $5 buys an HIV test kit, and $10 can buy school supplies for two orphans for a year or malaria nets to protect two people.”

Deb Kull conducts interviews with women in Malawi to determine the effectiveness of GAIA programs.

While in Malawi, Kull has interviewed Malawians about their experience withGAIA’s programs and evaluated the programs’ benefits. Back at her office in southern California, Kull is also responsible for organizing large fundraising events, managing donor databases, and coordinating volunteer involvement.

Kull’s experience with humanitarian efforts, however, did not begin in Malawi. From 2005-2007 she worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for Boat PeopleSOS in Houston. In Texas, Kull’s initial responsibilities involved grant writing and fund development for the organization, but she eventually transitioned to seeking funding specifically for the support of both domestic violence and human trafficking programs.

After her work with AmeriCorps, Kull held the position of development officer for foundation and corporate partnerships with International Medical Corps. There, she played a pivotal part in the fundraising efforts in the wake of the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

“What most people don’t realize is that the effects of these disasters last for years and years, not just in the physical infrastructure of the country, but also the economy, the mental and physical health of the people, the health care system, and the environment — it’s not a quick fix,” says Kull.

Presently, Kull serves on the board of trustees for Boat People SOS, Orange County. This organization offers programs to address the needs of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants adjusting to living in Orange County, California.

Kull received a B.S. in Africana Studies and a B.S. in Environmental Science Geology from NC State. She attributes her initial interest in refugee studies to an internship she held with Lutheran Family Services, a refugee resettlement agency in Raleigh.

She then went on to pursue graduate work in refugee studies at Oxford University. There, Kull’s research focused on the connection between forced migrants and their environment; her M.S. in Forced Migration was funded by a Clarendon Bursary full tuition scholarship.

Kull continues to support the Park program as an active alumna. She attended the Class of 2011 senior retreat in Rocky Mountain National Park and serves as Regional Selection Committee Leader for the West Region.

As she ponders the future, Kull plans to continue her work with GAIA and eventually return to school to pursue a doctorate.