Alemayehu G. Mariam, Professor of Political Science and Attorney at Law, California State University, San Bernanrdino (Chairman of The Council)

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching areas include American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics. He has published two volumes on American constitutional law, including American Constitutional Law: Structures and Process (1994) and American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (1998). He is the Senior Editor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, a leading scholarly journal on Ethiopia. For the last several years, Prof. Mariam has written a weekly web commentary on Ethiopian human rights and African issues that is widely read online. He played a central advocacy role in the passage of H.R. 2003 (Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007) in the House of Representatives in 2007. Prof. Mariam practices in the areas of criminal defense and civil litigation. In 1998, he argued a major case in the California Supreme Court involving the right against self-incrimination in People v. Peevy, 17 Cal. 4th 1184, which helped clarify longstanding Miranda rights issues in criminal procedure in California. For several years, Prof. Mariam had a weekly public channel public affairs television show in Southern California called “In the Public Interest”. Prof. Mariam received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1984, and his J.D. from the University of Maryland in 1988. Source: Huffpost

Bisrat Aklilu, UNDP, Executive Coordinator of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, U.N Development Programme

Mr. Bisrat Aklilu is a Senior Advisor for sustainable development, program evaluation, and fund management. Mr. Aklilu advises national governments and multilateral organizations including the United Nations Peace-building Fund (PBF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIBOR), and Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF). Mr. Aklilu has also worked with the UN for over 25 years, including as the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Operations at the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS), and as the Executive Coordinator of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) Office located in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Mr. Aklilu established and managed the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) Office, which when he left the UN in 2013, held a portfolio of over 100 trust funds valued at over $6 billion and is the first UN Office to introduce full public transparency through real-time financial data and narrative reporting. He has been a Director of Chemonics International Inc. since August 03, 2016. Mr. Aklilu holds a Ph.D. Economics and M.A. in Economics from Boston University, where he was also an assistant professor, and a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Massachusetts. Source: Bloomberg

Gabriel Negatu, Director General, African Development Bank

Mr. Negatu has more than 25 years of senior level program, operations and managerial experience, including 18 years at the African Development Bank as a senior and principal program officer (1998-2002), Chief Program Officer (2002-2006) and Sector Director for Economic and Financial Governance, where he led the Bank’s first governance department. He was appointed in 2010 as the Country and Regional Director for the East Africa Regional Resource Centre to help pilot the Bank’s decentralization effort. He successfully set up and is currently leading the Bank’s largest regional center, managing 13 client countries and a portfolio worth in excess of US $9 billion. He leads a multi-sector, multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural team that includes over 250 local and international staff. Mr. Negatu holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and planning from California State University (1980) and a master’s degree in public and international administration with a focus on economics and social development from the University of Pittsburgh (1984). Source: African Development Bank Group

Mr Kassahun (Kassy) Kebede,founder and Managing Partner of Cepheus Growth Capital, an Ethiopian focused private equity fund started in 2016; founder and Managing Partner of Panton Capital Group.

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, Mr. Kebede worked in the Global Markets Division focusing on the bank’s exposure in Asia and Latin America. Mr. Kebede 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, Mr. Kebede was head of the credit derivatives department at Merrill Lynch. From 1991 to 1993, Mr. Kebede was employed at Bankers Trust. Mr. Kebede earned a 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. Source: WorldSpace, Inc.

Lemma Sembet, Executive Director, African Economic Research Consortium

Lemma W. Senbet is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the Smith School of the University of Maryland, College Park and Director of the Center for Financial Policy. He is also the incoming Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC). He has been an influential member of the global community of finance scholars for over 30 years. His chief research interests are in the areas of corporate finance, international finance, agency, and financial contracting. He has advised the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, African Economic Research Consortium, and other international institutions on issues of financial sector reform and capital market development. He also served as an independent director for The Fortis Funds and currently is an independent director for The Hartford Funds. Source: University of Maryland

Dr Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation INC.

Dr. Menna Demessie is the Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. She leads the foundation’s research and policy initiatives that affect African Americans and the global black community in areas including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, voting and environmental sustainability, among many others. In her capacity, Dr. Demessie has spearheaded several partnerships with the White House, Congress, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and other nonprofit stakeholders to advance strategic efforts to influence and inform public policy. Prior to joining the CBCF, Dr. Demessie was one of five scholars in the United States to receive the prestigious American Political Science Congressional Fellowship. For the fellowship, she joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s team to work on federal unemployment legislation, antipoverty initiatives, and foreign affairs in the 112thCongress.

Lulite Ejigu, Executive Director- Risk Management Strategy & Advisory at JP Morgan Chase

Ms. Lilute, has served as Compliance officer and senior Vice President of Global AML Program at Citibank. She holds a BA degree in Psychology and communication studies and, EMBA in Global operations and strategic management from Texas A&M University. Source: Lulite Ejigu LinkedIn Profile 

Ms. Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director of Black Rhino Group and Executive Advisor and Chair and Chair of Blackstone African Infrastructure LP

Mrs. Mimi Alemayehou is an Executive Advisor at The Blackstone Group, Private Equity Group. Mrs. Alemayehou serves as Managing Director of Black Rhino, Executive Advisor & Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure L.P at The Blackstone Group L.P. She has been Managing Director at Black Rhino Group, LLC since August 2014. Prior to joining Blackstone, Mrs. Alemayehou was the Executive Vice President of The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). During Mrs. Alemayehou’s tenure from 2010 to 2014, OPIC’s portfolio grew by more than 24 percent to $18 billion. Her leadership was instrumental in tripling OPIC’s Africa portfolio to nearly $4 billion. Mrs. Alemayehou was one of the architects of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access across the continent. She is Chair of Blackstone African Infrastructure LP. Previously, Mrs. Alemayehou served as the United States Executive Director on the board of the African Development Bank (AfDB). As the senior Treasury official in Africa, Mrs. Alemayehou represented the U.S. on Treasury and development issues and was instrumental in pushing the AfDB to increase its lending to the private sector in support of infrastructure projects. Prior to AfDB, Mrs. Alemayehou was Founder and Managing Partner of Trade Links, LLC. She also managed a multi-country trade project in Africa for the International Executive Service Corps and was Director of International Regulatory Affairs for WorldSpace Corporation. She started her career in the U.S. Congress, working for U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry. Mrs. Alemayehou holds a Masters degree in International Business and International Law and Development from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Source: Bloomberg

Minelik Alemu Getahun, Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organizations

Minelik Alemu Getahun, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia (2011 to the present) to the United Nations at Geneva and other International Organization in Switzerland and Vienna. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Confederation and (non-resident) to Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. He is currently serving as Assistant Director General of the Global Issues Sector. Mr. Minelik oversee World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO’s) work on “traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources; global challenges; building respect for intellectual property; and relations with other intergovernmental organizations. Source: World Intellectual Property Organization

Mr, Obang Metho, Executive Director, Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopian, Human Rights Activists.

Mr. Obang Metho is Executive Director of the SMNE (, a social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians that joint-sponsored with the think tank, Oakland Institute, to produce the Ethiopian portion of the comprehensive investigative report, Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa, published in June 2011. Mr. Obang hold a BA Degree, in Political Science from University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Source: Mr. Obang Metho, LinkedIn Profile

Mr, Robsan Itana, President and CEO,Global Translation & Interpreter

Robsan Itana is Chief Executive Officer of Global Translation & Interpreter (GTI) and also the executive director of the Oromo-American Citizens’ Council. Mr. Itana holds a BA, Ethnic studies, Community Building and Non-Profit Management from Metropolitan State University Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Mr. Tashita Tufaa, President and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Network (MTN)

Mr. Tashitaa Tufaa came to Minnesota as a young political activist from the Oromo region of Ethiopia. After securing political asylum, he earned a graduate degree from the University of Minnesota. Mr. Tufaa is an entrepreneur who started his business from cab driver to the owner of more than 300 school buses as part of his company, Metropolitan Transportation Network Inc. It took 13 years for Tashitaa Tufaa to grow his business revenue to $35 million. Mr. Tufaa, who built a $12 million school bus service in just a decade, is the Metropolitan Economic Development Association’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Mr. Tamagne Beyene, Human Rights Activists

Former comedian turned Human Rights Activist. Tamagn Beyene was very well known for his way of delivering different performances at the National theaters. His colleagues and other artists also pay their admiration for his originality and lively acts on stage. 26 years ago, Tamagn thought he would spend the rest of his life in theatrical arts, the profession he loved the most before he became one of the most influencing activists. Not only was he a great comedian, he also played the drum and saxophone very well, no one even though he would leave that part of him aside.

Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) held its 23rd Annual Awards Gala at Georgetown University Hotel Conference Center in Washington, D.C. on May 24th, 2015, honored Artist and Activist Tamagn Beyene and other dignitaries. SEED honored Tamagn Beyene as a distinguished artist and as an activist for social justice, in appreciation of his dedication and courage in defending the freedom and civil rights of the people.

Mr. Yehenew Walilegne has worked at the World Health Organization as Technical Officer (Legal) for eight years and he is now currently working as Counsel at The World Bank. Mr. Yehenew hold a Masters of Law, International Human Rights Law, Degree from University of Notre Dame Law School.

Mr Elias Wondimu, President and CEO of TSEHAI Corp.

Elias Wondimu is the founding publisher of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies and Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies. An exiled journalist, Wondimu has played a pioneering role in the expansion of knowledge about the different aspect of the region’s social and political history that he hopes will be used constructively. In post 2005 election violence in Ethiopia, Wondimu established the Ethiopian Institute for Nonviolence Education and Peace Studies (EINEPS). The first of such institutions in the Horn, Wondimu believes that EINEPS will help change the culture of war that dominates his country. Through TSEHAI Publishers, which he founded a decade ago, and its imprints, Wondimu continues to publish books that “heal, not kill.