The name Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund and the acronym EDTF refers to the name used when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made the call for Ethiopians abroad to donate a dollar a day to support Ethiopians in need. The legal entity Friends of EDTF was established to formally and legally create an organization to lead the fundraising and projects funding efforts.
The Fiends of Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (Friends of EDTF) is organized in accordance with the Delaware General Corporation Law. Friends of EDTF is a not-for-profit organization. All of the money donated to Friends of EDTF will be used exclusively to pursue the organization’s objectives and to keep it in proper operation with maximum accountability and transparency.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The EDTF Board of Directors is the apex governance body. It comprises of fifteen (15) persons* drawn from the diaspora globally. Functions of the Board of Directors include:
- Provide overall leadership and set the strategic direction, policy, oversight and accountability of the EDTF
- Hire staff to support the operations of EDTF including Executive/Development Director(s), Finance & IT and Programs support staff.
- Approve an appropriate executive compensation for the EDTF Staff as needed, including developing an annual budget
- Approve the EDTF Operational Manual including project submission procedures, formats, report submissions, etc.
- Review and approve project funding requests from Implementing Organizations
- Establish appropriate Board Committees that will assist the Board to function smoothly and ensure proper accountability
- Commission periodic reviews of the EDTF
- Secure the cooperation of appropriate government entities for the efficient and smooth implementation of EDTF ‘s overall objectives and activities
- Adopt its own rules of procedure and
- Perform an annual evaluation on any hired staff as applicable
Dr. Menna Demessie, Chair
Dr. Menna Demessie serves as the Executive Director and Senior Vice-President of Universal Music Group’s Task Force for Meaningful Change as well as Adjunct Professor for the University of California Washington Center. She also serves on the board of trustees for Oberlin College, the American Political Science Association Council, the American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellowship Advisory Board, and the Habesha Votes Advisory Board.
Menna formerly served as Senior Vice-President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) leading research and policy initiatives that affect all people of African descent. She founded CBCF’s Journal of the Center for Policy Analysis and Research. She worked on democratic governance and gender equality in Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and received the 2016 DC Mayor’s Award for Community Advocacy Award for lobbying for the interests of African communities in Washington D.C. She also served on the board of the Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) for twenty years.
Menna earned her Ph.D. in public policy and political science from the University of Michigan and conducted the first and only empirical and qualitative study of the influence of African congressional caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives and its influence on U.S. African foreign policy. Her latest publications include “Race and Ethnicity in Black Congressional Representation: The Case of US Foreign Policy Toward Africa in Congress & the Presidency and her book chapter, “Changing the Face of Workforce Diversity on Capitol Hill in Under the Iron Dome: Congress from the Inside.
Mr. Mesfin Demessie, Treasurer
Mr. Mesfin Demise is Executive business leader with an impressive track record implementing efficient financial operations across domestic and international locations while seamlessly directing all accounting functions. Strong SEC expertise and background in business valuations, M&A, and SOX requirements.
Mesfin developed and built business from start up to quickly achieve $1.2M+ in revenue providing global call routing solutions to telecommunications companies nationwide. He started the company with no debt and a positive cashflow.
As a CFO for HC2 Holding Inc Mesfin led five direct and 15+ indirect team members focused accounting treatments and control policy/procedures for acquired companies, consolidated, in one year, all five merged and acquired companies under one financial reporting system based on SEC requirements, closed five Merger & Acquisition agreements within one year, and advised and worked collaborated with financial teams in Manufacturing, Marine services, Telecom, Utilities, Life sciences, and Insurance.
Mesfin has served as Senior Director of Finance for Primus Telecommunications, Inc.
where he led and mentored a group of 50+ team members across the United States, India, and the United Kingdom to manage revenue of $250M, integrated financial and operational functions from the acquired company and assumed financial management responsibility for US and UK operations.
Mesfin holds Bachelor of Arts in Accounting & MIS from George Mason University, and a CPA. He enjoys swimming, basketball and traveling.
Mr. Solomon Lemma, Secretary
Mr. Solomon Lemma is currently President of SOL R1 Enterprise, LLC where he specializes in business development, commercial excellence, strategic marketing, business improvement and mergers and acquisitions in specialty chemicals and materials industry. He is also Senior Outside Advisor at Bain & Company, a $4.5 Billion revenue American management consulting company.
Solomon has served as board member at the Boys and Girls Club, Bethlehem, PA and National Public Radio, Allentown, PA. He was also Co-founder and President of Ethiopia-Cleveland Connection, an organization dedicated to helping schools and hospitals in Ethiopia while creating cultural connections between Ethiopia and Cleveland, Ohio. He was also Co-founder and President of Northeast Ohio Ethiopian American Association.
Solomon is a 30 year chemical industry veteran having held a series of technical and commercial leadership roles of increasing responsibility such as Vice President and General Manager, Specialty Additives at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., a $10 Billion revenue global industrial gases and chemicals company; General Manager, Americas at Arkema, Inc., a $10 Billion revenue global industrial chemicals company headquartered in Paris, France; and Global Business Manager and Research and Development Associate at The Lubrizol Corporation, a $6.5 Billion revenue Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary focusing on specialty chemicals.
Solomon holds multiple commercially successful international patents and invention records and was named Corporate Inventor by The BFGoodrich Corporation in 1995 which led to his induction into The National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.
Solomon holds a B.Sc degree in Chemical Engineering from Cleveland State University and an MBA with concentration in industrial marketing and strategic planning from Case Western Reserve University.
Mr. Elias Wondimu
Mr. Elias Wondimu is a social entrepreneur, knowledge broker, institution builder, peace and cultural ambassador. He is the founding director of TSEHAI Publishers, a global knowledge company. Since the 2011 closure of Howard University Press, TSEHAI is the only African or African American publisher housed in an American or European university. In this unique position, Elias plays a crucial role in bridging the global knowledge gap about Africa.
As a distinguished public intellectual, Elias serves as a senior fellow of the International Strategic Studies Association; a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities; Resident Scholar at Loyola Marymount University; contributing editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books; advisor to the Ethiopian manuscript collection program at Princeton University; and served as a lecturer at the LARB/USC Publishing Workshop and gave guest lectures in many universities.
Elias has received several awards and commendations, including the Bikila Award (2019); the Hidden Heroes Award by Loyola Marymount University (2018); Grand Officer of the Imperial Order of Emperor Menelik II by the Crown Council of Ethiopia (2017); received the Innovative Global Project Award by Loyola Marymount University (2014); Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation (2007); and featured in Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles (2008). He also appeared in many national and international media outlets including NPR, BBC, ETV, Pacifica Radio, the Los Angeles Times, and the Ethiopian Herald Newspapers.
Dr. Ghenno Senbetta
Dr. Ghenno Senbetta is a change management professional who provides consulting services focusing on nonprofit and educational institutions. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at Purdue University teaching graduate students human performance technology and strategic assessment and evaluation online courses. As a business consulting professional, Ghenno has held several global leadership roles in learning and development; knowledge management; technology implementation and ethics and compliance at Abbott Laboratories, BP America, Inc., Arthur Andersen LLP, Ernst & Young and Accenture. As an entrepreneur he was the founder and president of Powered Performance, Inc., a performance consulting business offering services to help people learn faster and work smarter.
Ghenno has served as board member for CARE Chicago, a nonprofit organization providing financial literacy education to high school and college students. He has served as a volunteer since the beginning of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF).
Throughout his career, Ghenno has contributed to and volunteered for local and international nonprofit organizations including Rotary International, United Way, World Vision and several book and food depositories to support fundraising and community service projects.
Ghenno is a pragmatic problem solver and a creative innovator. He has a passion for applying his skills and experiences to developing and implementing practical solutions to improve the lives and livelihoods of people in need. He strives to enable organizations to develop their capabilities focusing on delivering measurable results to meet targeted goals.
Ghenno earned his Ph.D. in Educational Computing and his B.S in Geology from Purdue University.
Dr. Henok Tesfaye
Dr. Henok Tesfaye is the President and Chief Executive Officer of U Street Parking, Inc. (USP), a company he founded in 1998. Under Henok’s leadership, USP has become a premier parking company in the highly competitive parking market in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. His efforts proved successful when USP was awarded multi- million-dollar contracts to manage parking facilities at five of the busiest airports on the East Coast, including Orlando International Airport.
Henok plays an important role in giving back to the community. He serves as Chairman of the Board of the Mary Joy Foundation USA, a non-profit organization that seeks to help children and seniors in his homeland, Ethiopia.
Henok is also involved in the real-estate sector, at United Investments with multi-million-dollar properties currently in development within the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. He is featured in multiple publications. The Washington Post described him as “a District of Columbia entrepreneurial success story, a savvy and focused businessman with good standing within the community.”
Henok is a Board Member at Capital Bank and the Washington Architectural Foundation, as well as numerous civic and professional associations including the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Enterprise Development Group, and the National Parking Association.
Professor Lemma W. Senbet
Professor Lemma W. Senbet is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park, and former Executive Director/CEO of African Economic Research Consortium (AERC: www.aercafrica.org), the largest and oldest economic research and training network in Africa. Prior to his current roles, he was a distinguished professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and held the Charles Albright Endowed Chair.
Lemma has achieved global recognition for his extensive and widely cited contributions to corporate finance, international finance, and financial sector reforms and development. He has received numerous recognitions for his impact on the profession. He was elected twice as director of the American Finance Association and is a past president of the Western Finance Association (WFA). In 2000, he was inducted into the Financial Economists Roundtable (FER), a distinguished group of world-wide financial economists. In 2006, he was inducted into the Fellow of the Financial Management Association (FMA) in recognition of his career-long distinguished scholarship. In 2005, Prof Senbet was awarded an honorary doctorate by Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia’s flagship university. In 2012, he was awarded the Ethiopian Diaspora (SEED) award for exemplary lifetime achievements and community service.
Lemma has advised the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, AfDB, and various agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Africa on such issues as financial sector reforms. He has made significant contributions to the US financial industry. Prof Senbet was a director of Fotris Funds and is currently an independent director for the Hartford Funds.
Ms. Lulite H. Ejigu
Ms. Lulite Hailu Ejigu is Executive Director in Risk Management at JP Morgan Chase, a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries across the globe. She provides Risk Oversight for the Residential Mortgage and Home Equity Portfolio and Risk Policy Management and Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. She has extensive financial industry experience in Operations, Process Engineering, Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Compliance Advisory and Credit Risk functions across the Commercial and Home Lending businesses.
Lulite was recognized as a Market Leader in Dallas as well as a Diversity and Inclusion champion in different capacities across JP Morgan Chase. Most notably, she is a member of the Consumer & Community (CCB) Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council and serves as the Texas Co-Chair of “Women on the Move” in Risk Management. Outside of JP Morgan Chase, Ms. Ejigu is the founder and CEO of MAMO Worldwide, an organization whose mission is to serve, restore, and connect individuals with rare essentials for the advancement of the communities they serve.
Lulite holds an Executive MBA from Texas A&M University – Commerce with a focus on Global Operations and Strategic Management, as well as a BA in Psychology with a minor in Communications Studies from Texas Tech University. She enjoys dancing, hiking, and traveling, and serve as a proud member of her local church, Shoreline City, located in Garland, Texas.
Mr. Yehenew T. Walilegne
Mr. Yehenew Tsegaye Walilegne is Senior Legal Counsel at the World Bank Group (WBG), based in Washington D.C. Prior to joining the WBG, he was Legal Officer at WHO (Geneva) where he handled international law, constitutional law, and international civil service law matters for eight years. He has also worked as Lecturer in Law and Assistant Dean of Addis Ababa University School of Law; Rule of Law Project Manager and Head of Project Office with United Nations Development Program Sudan; Human Rights Officer with the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and in-house counsel for the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation.
Yehenew has co-authored a book on Ethiopian labor and employment law, and a monograph on international migration, health and human rights. He has also published a number of articles on the hydro politics of the Nile Basin; labor market flexibility and employment and income security; state of emergency and human rights in peer-reviewed journals. He earned his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree (Distinction) in 1997 from Addis Ababa University School of Law, Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Law in 2001 from Dalhousie University Law School (Nova Scotia, Canada), and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Human Rights Law (summa cum laude) in 2004 from Notre Dame University Law School (Indiana, United States). He has also attended highly coveted short courses in international law and forced migration at The Hague Academy of International Law and the United Nations International Law Commission and the University of Oxford.
Dr. Yodit Benalfew
Dr. Yodit Benalfew is a practicing internist at Kaiser Permanente MAPMG serving as a primary care physician in the mid-Atlantic region for over 25 years. She is a leading champion of preventive care and has consistently maintained high performance in cancer screening, prevention, and management of diabetes. She has served as a module lead in the Kaiser Permanente Fair Oaks Center for over 5 years, where she led a team of 10 physicians.
Yodit is the co-Founder of The Kidus Legacy Education and Soccer Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Ethiopia which works with Addis Ababa University providing underprivileged youth with tutoring and soccer training to raise the next generation of Ethiopians.
Yodit was recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for her professional contributions. She was nominated by her peers and recognized by the Northern Virginia Magazine as one of the 2017, 2019 Top Doctors in the region and by Washingtonian Magazine 2020.
Yodit obtained her medical degree from the Medical College of Poznan, Poland. She completed the educational commission for Foreign Medical Graduates Certification (ECFMG) in the U.S. She then completed training at the internal medicine residency program in Presbyterian Medical Center, University of Penn Health System in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Minelik A. Getahun
Ambassador Minelik Alemu Getahun is a 2021 Fellow with Harvard University, Advanced Leadership Initiative. Prior to his current position, He served as Assistant Director General (ADG), Global Issues Sector, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from December 2014 to December 2020 and oversaw Programs covering Traditional Knowledge, Building Respect for Intellectual Property (IP), IP and Global Challenges as well as External Relations. Before joining WIPO.
Before WIPO, he served as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Offices in Geneva and in Vienna and other international organizations in Switzerland and in Vienna. He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to Switzerland and (non-resident) to Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. He was the legal advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and has held different diplomatic positions.
Minelik holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from University College London and a Bachelor of Laws from Addis Ababa University. He has served as a member of the African Union Commission on International Law.
Dr. Zaki Sherif is a Tenured Full Professor at Howard University College of Medicine and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also a medical research scientist in cancer research, translational medicine, and Long-COVID-19 (Post-Acute Sequalae of SARS-CoV-2). As a principal Investigator, his research works have been funded by leading biomedical research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and American Cancer Society.
Zaki has mentored and graduated over 90 MD’s, and PhD’s; served as a United Nations’ visiting scholar / professor at Addis Ababa University Faculty of Medicine; submitted a blueprint proposal to the Ethiopian Government on cancer center design and operation and made trips to Ethiopia on medical missions and peace negotiations. He also served as a founding member of Badr Ethiopia and First Hijrah Foundation in the United States.
Among Zaki’s notable accomplishments are discovering novel genetic mutations in breast cancer and identifying biomarkers for early diagnosis of liver cancer. He sits on the editorial boards of six scientific journals and reviews over four dozen research papers annually for over fifteen journal publications. His work is sited in numerous scientific publications including book chapters.
Zaki is recognized for his scientific accomplishments with national and international awards including the Hall of Fame Society for Science and Technology, American Association of Cancer Researchers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora.
Zaki completed his graduate and medical school studies and trainings at University of Wisconsin, Howard, Georgetown, and Stanford Universities.
Kassahun (Kassy) Kebede
Mr. Kassahun (Kassy) Kebede has served as a director of WorldSpace since 2005. He is the founder and managing partner of PANTON Capital Group, a New York based credit arbitrage hedge fund established in February 2004. From 1995 to 2004, Mr. Kebede worked at Deutsche Bank in a number of positions, ending as the head of a bank-wide management task force concerned with measuring, assessing and reducing the bank’s exposures (trading and loans) in Latin America.
Previously, Kassy has worked in the Global Markets Division focusing on the bank’s exposure in Asia and Latin America. He also served as the head of equity derivatives and a member of the division’s Management and Commitment Committees. He originally joined Deutsche Bank in 1995 as head of European fixed income derivatives. From 1994 to 1995, Kassy was head of the credit derivatives department at Merrill Lynch. From 1991 to 1993, he was employed at Bankers Trust.
Kassy earned his M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Marquette University in 1985.
Gabriel Negatu, Chair
Mr. Gabriel Negatu is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and an Advisor at the World Bank. He also serves as Managing Director at Invest Afrique Inc. an Investment Strategy & Advisory Group.
Gabriel previously served as African Development Bank (ADB) Director General for Eastern Africa; with portfolio management responsibility for lending and non-lending operations valued in excess of US$ 9 billion in 13 countries. His portfolio mix covered sovereign and non-sovereign lending, policy-based operations, sector-wide projects and advisory services. Gabriel founded and directed the ADB’s Economic & Financial Governance program; with responsibilities for economic & financial reforms in more than two-dozen countries during the global financial crisis. His carrier at ADB includes Policy & Compliance Reviews and managing relations with stakeholders to mainstream impact, harmonization and alignment.
Gabriel completed advanced studies in several universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, Harvard University Business School and the University of Manchester. He is a widely sought-after speaker and investment strategist featured in leading publications on Africa.
FOUNDING ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS
An 18-member EDTF Advisory Council is appointed by H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed with a global mandate. Its principal functions were:
- Provide advice on mobilizing the Ethiopian Diaspora Community globally to make financial contributions to the EDTF Account on a timely and sustained basis to ensure the realization of the EDTF objectives;
- Promote the establishment of chapters globally in cities and countries with significant presence of Ethiopians to increase the EDTFs outreach and resource mobilization;
- Serve as a discussion forum for the formulation of strategies for adequate resource development and funding of development projects within the mission framework of the EDTF;
PROF. ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM, Council Chair
Professor of Political Science and Attorney at Law, California State University
DR. BISRAT AKLILU
Senior Development & International Affairs Advisor
President and CEO of TSEHAI Corp.
Director General, Eastern Africa, African Development Bank
Founder and Managing Partner of Cepheus Growth Capital and Panton Capital Group
PROF. LEMMA W. SENBET
William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance, University of Maryland, College Park
LULITE H. EJIGU
Executive Director, Risk Management Strategy & Advisory at JP Morgan Chase
DR. MENNA DEMESSIE
Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation INC.
Managing Director, BlackRhino Group
MINELIK A. GETAHUN
Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organizations
Executive Director, Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, Human Rights Activist
President and CEO, Global Translation & Interpreter
Public Figure, Human Rights Activist
President and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Network (MTN)
Counsel at The World Bank
Architect, Manager of Facility Operations, Washington Convention Authority
President and CEO, U Street Parking, Inc.
DR. ZAKI SHERIF
Professor, Howard University College of Medicine