I wrote those words in Held at a Distance, a memoir I published years ago, to describe how and why I finally decided to return to Ethiopia after having fled – that is, after having been pushed out – 25 years earlier as a refugee following the 1974 revolution.  

Now, a decade-plus later, in collaboration with extraordinary colleagues, I’ve launched Ethiopia Education Initiatives (EEI), an organization that will make a major contribution to education in Ethiopia.

How did this come to be?  It certainly wasn’t easy to be a refugee, to start completely over in a new country (central Minnesota to be precise).  But for me, and for my sister and fellow board member Sossina, education was the key that unlocked every door.  We had access to excellent schools and generous scholarship programs ensured that if we worked hard we could take advantage of every opportunity we qualified for.  

Fast forward many years, and the connection to EEI is clear – it almost feels inevitable.  I’ve returned to Ethiopia often since that first trip back, each time learning more about the country and each time feeling a greater sense of my own good fortune – somewhat paradoxically, given how we left – and a stronger and stronger drive to “give back”, not only in response to crises, but in a sustainable, impactful way.

Which meant education.  Ethiopian kids need quality education opportunities, and a quality education is the ultimate long-term investment for maximum long-term return, especially when made available to all students of promise without regard to their ability to pay. 

So that is the story of from there to here, or more accurately from there to here to there. 

In January 2016, in conversations with my husband Jean, also an immigrant and also a graduate of excellent schools, about new year’s resolutions and new year’s plans, the pieces came together, and the idea for EEI was conceived.

As the story continues to unfold, we hope you’ll be with us for the journey.

- Rebecca Haile, author & philanthropist

 
 
 

 Project Leaders

 

 
Rebecca Haile   Lawyer, mother, author, businesswoman, Rebecca Haile is the understated but insistent driving force behind the Haile-Manas Academy. Ethiopian by birth, American by life’s circumstances, she is fluent in both English and Amharic. As the overall project leader, Rebecca is orchestrating and overseeing every element of this project, from facilities design to programmatic decisions and development efforts. She is currently actively expanding her team both in the US and in Ethiopia. B.A. Williams College; J.D. Harvard Law School.

Rebecca Haile

Lawyer, mother, author, businesswoman, Rebecca Haile is the understated but insistent driving force behind the Haile-Manas Academy. Ethiopian by birth, American by life’s circumstances, she is fluent in both English and Amharic. As the overall project leader, Rebecca is orchestrating and overseeing every element of this project, from facilities design to programmatic decisions and development efforts. She is currently actively expanding her team both in the US and in Ethiopia. B.A. Williams College; J.D. Harvard Law School.

Fasil Giorghis,  architect  Fasil is known for designs that combine the use of local materials with sensitivity to Ethiopian design heritage. He is the author of “Addis Ababa, the City and its Architectural Heritage from 1886-1941”. Notable projects include the Red Terror Martyrs Museum, the new Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, the restoration of the Addis Ababa City Museum, the Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. Associate Professor, Addis Ababa University; Founding Member of Ethiopia Heritage Trust. Fellow, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. BSc Addis Ababa University; M.A. in Architecture from Helsinki University of Technology, Finland.

Fasil Giorghis, architect

Fasil is known for designs that combine the use of local materials with sensitivity to Ethiopian design heritage. He is the author of “Addis Ababa, the City and its Architectural Heritage from 1886-1941”. Notable projects include the Red Terror Martyrs Museum, the new Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, the restoration of the Addis Ababa City Museum, the Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. Associate Professor, Addis Ababa University; Founding Member of Ethiopia Heritage Trust. Fellow, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. BSc Addis Ababa University; M.A. in Architecture from Helsinki University of Technology, Finland.

Tesfaye Kifle,  Founding Deputy Head of School, Haile-Manas Academy  With over two decades experience as a teacher, teaching coach and administrator in Ethiopian and international schools and organizations, Tesfaye has an exceptional understanding of both national and international education. This coming year Tesfaye will assist with oversight of campus construction, the development of curricular and co-curricular programs, the recruitment of faculty and staff and the assessment and implementation of school operating systems. B. Ed., Kotebe College of Teacher Education, Ethiopia; MSc. in Multi Disciplinary Studies, State University of New York (Buffalo).

Tesfaye Kifle, Founding Deputy Head of School, Haile-Manas Academy

With over two decades experience as a teacher, teaching coach and administrator in Ethiopian and international schools and organizations, Tesfaye has an exceptional understanding of both national and international education. This coming year Tesfaye will assist with oversight of campus construction, the development of curricular and co-curricular programs, the recruitment of faculty and staff and the assessment and implementation of school operating systems. B. Ed., Kotebe College of Teacher Education, Ethiopia; MSc. in Multi Disciplinary Studies, State University of New York (Buffalo).

Peter Thorp   Peter was the founding Head of School of the prestigious Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Rwanda, where he lived for 4 1/2 years. Earlier in his career he was the founding principal of Gateway High School in San Francisco, a public charter school. Prior to that he taught and coached for over 18 years at Fountain Valley School in Colorado, and for 5 years served as the headmaster of Cate School in California. As an educator with decades of directly relevant teaching and administrative experience, Peter is responsible for the initial program design at the Academy, including curriculum, admissions, and teacher training, work for which he is uniquely qualified. He is also lending advice and assistance with the physical layout, structure and configuration of the facilities design. B.A., Williams College.

Peter Thorp

Peter was the founding Head of School of the prestigious Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Rwanda, where he lived for 4 1/2 years. Earlier in his career he was the founding principal of Gateway High School in San Francisco, a public charter school. Prior to that he taught and coached for over 18 years at Fountain Valley School in Colorado, and for 5 years served as the headmaster of Cate School in California. As an educator with decades of directly relevant teaching and administrative experience, Peter is responsible for the initial program design at the Academy, including curriculum, admissions, and teacher training, work for which he is uniquely qualified. He is also lending advice and assistance with the physical layout, structure and configuration of the facilities design. B.A., Williams College.

 

Board of Directors

 
Mr. Jean Manas, Chairman of the Board   Founder and CEO of Foros, a premier strategic and M&A advisory firm in New York City. Formerly in senior leadership positions at Deutsche Bank and Goldman, Sachs & Co. Chairman, Board of Trustees of Robert College, a leading high school in Istanbul, Turkey providing a world-class educational experience to Turkey’s top high school students. B.A. Princeton University (Woodrow Wilson School); J.D. Harvard Law School.

Mr. Jean Manas, Chairman of the Board

Founder and CEO of Foros, a premier strategic and M&A advisory firm in New York City. Formerly in senior leadership positions at Deutsche Bank and Goldman, Sachs & Co. Chairman, Board of Trustees of Robert College, a leading high school in Istanbul, Turkey providing a world-class educational experience to Turkey’s top high school students. B.A. Princeton University (Woodrow Wilson School); J.D. Harvard Law School.

Ambassador Reuben Brigety   Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, and former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs and Bureau of Population. Former Assistant Professor, George Mason University, School of International Service at American University. B.S. U.S. Naval Academy; M.Phil. and Ph.D. in International Relations from University of Cambridge,  UK.

Ambassador Reuben Brigety

Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, and former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs and Bureau of Population. Former Assistant Professor, George Mason University, School of International Service at American University. B.S. U.S. Naval Academy; M.Phil. and Ph.D. in International Relations from University of Cambridge,  UK.

Ms. Caroline Brown   Partner, Covington & Burling, LLP. Co-chair, health care practice; member of evaluation and charitable contributions committees. Former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor. Alumna and Former Trustee, Hotchkiss School, top US boarding school. B.A Harvard College; J.D. Harvard Law School.

Ms. Caroline Brown

Partner, Covington & Burling, LLP. Co-chair, health care practice; member of evaluation and charitable contributions committees. Former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor. Alumna and Former Trustee, Hotchkiss School, top US boarding school. B.A Harvard College; J.D. Harvard Law School.

 
Ms. Rebecca Haile, Executive Director   Lawyer and finance professional with extensive experience at several NYC firms. Currently Executive Vice President, Foros. Author, “Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia”. Trustee, The Brearley School, top independent school in New York City. B.A. Williams College; J.D. Harvard Law School.

Ms. Rebecca Haile, Executive Director

Lawyer and finance professional with extensive experience at several NYC firms. Currently Executive Vice President, Foros. Author, “Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia”. Trustee, The Brearley School, top independent school in New York City. B.A. Williams College; J.D. Harvard Law School.

Dr. Sossina M. Haile   Leading academic scientist, winner of numerous prestigious awards. Currently Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern. Research broadly encompasses materials for energy technology innovation. American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship, U.S. National Science Foundation. Co-founder, Joint US-Africa Materials Institute. Fellow, African Academy of Science. Associate Fellow, Ethiopian Academy of Science. B.S. and Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering, MIT.

Dr. Sossina M. Haile

Leading academic scientist, winner of numerous prestigious awards. Currently Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern. Research broadly encompasses materials for energy technology innovation. American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship, U.S. National Science Foundation. Co-founder, Joint US-Africa Materials Institute. Fellow, African Academy of Science. Associate Fellow, Ethiopian Academy of Science. B.S. and Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering, MIT.

Dr. Liben Hailu   Chief Technology Officer, Duracell, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.  Previously held a variety of research and development positions at Proctor & Gamble. Played a leading role supporting the growth of the Proctor & Gamble businesses in Sub Saharan Africa. B. Eng., University of Surrey, UK; Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of Cambridge, UK.

Dr. Liben Hailu

Chief Technology Officer, Duracell, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.  Previously held a variety of research and development positions at Proctor & Gamble. Played a leading role supporting the growth of the Proctor & Gamble businesses in Sub Saharan Africa. B. Eng., University of Surrey, UK; Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of Cambridge, UK.

 
Ms. Anne T. Melvin   Director of Training and Education, Alumni Affairs & Development, Harvard University. Founder, ATM Consulting. Board Member, Wellesley Education Foundation, and fundraiser, Williams College. B.A. Williams College; J.D. Boston University School of Law.

Ms. Anne T. Melvin

Director of Training and Education, Alumni Affairs & Development, Harvard University. Founder, ATM Consulting. Board Member, Wellesley Education Foundation, and fundraiser, Williams College. B.A. Williams College; J.D. Boston University School of Law.

Dr. Aleesha Taylor   Founder and principal, Herald Advisors, education consulting firm. Former Deputy Director, Open Society Foundations’ Education Support Program. Former Senoir Advisor to the Minister of Education in Liberia. Former Lecturer, Teachers College, Columbia University. B.A. Spelman College; Ph.D. Teachers College, Columbia University.

Dr. Aleesha Taylor

Founder and principal, Herald Advisors, education consulting firm. Former Deputy Director, Open Society Foundations’ Education Support Program. Former Senoir Advisor to the Minister of Education in Liberia. Former Lecturer, Teachers College, Columbia University. B.A. Spelman College; Ph.D. Teachers College, Columbia University.

Mr. Benjamin Williams IV   Headmaster, Cate School, Carpinteria, California. Teaching and administration experience at schools in Massachussetts, Texas and California. Vice Chair of the Board for The Association of Boarding Schools; Trustee, Westminster School, top US boarding school. B.A Williams College; M.A. Brown University.

Mr. Benjamin Williams IV

Headmaster, Cate School, Carpinteria, California. Teaching and administration experience at schools in Massachussetts, Texas and California. Vice Chair of the Board for The Association of Boarding Schools; Trustee, Westminster School, top US boarding school. B.A Williams College; M.A. Brown University.