I am honored to be recognized as a White House Champion of Change but acknowledge that this recognition belongs not only to me but also to the thousands of African immigrants and refugees who have given back to their new homeland through remarkable contributions in science, business, culture, the arts, and government. In 1983, I started the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), a non-profit agency, to be a voice for Ethiopian immigrants and refugees in the U.S.; to create public awareness about their challenges and successes; and to serve as a bridge between them and the larger community. Yet since its founding, ECDC has served newcomers from diverse cultural backgrounds from around the world with a focus on African immigrants and refugees.For 28 years now, ECDC’s work has helped people make positive changes in their lives.
In 1991, ECDC was approved by the Department of State as one of the 10 Voluntary Agencies authorized to resettle refugees in the U.S. As the only African community-based organization, we began with four affiliates. Today we have 17 African CBO affiliates whose dedicated staff are making a difference in the lives of those they serve. ECDC has taken a lead in empowering African refugee-based organizations through capacity building, leadership and resource development, and technical assistance to enable them to play a greater role in serving their communities.
ECDC’s Enterprise Development Group (EDG), a CDFI and SBA Intermediary Lender, provides financial resources and support services to individuals, families, and small businesses in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to help them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. The program has helped entrepreneurs like Henok Tesfaye, the owner of U Street Parking. Today he has a major contract for parking management services at Dulles International and Reagan National airports, which have created hundreds of jobs locally.
Since 1992, our Educational Development program has collected and distributed close to one million books to institutions of higher learning, which have made them available to thousands of students who are hungry for educational resources in Ethiopia.
We have seen the generosity that this great country extends to people in need here and around the world. Following that tradition, ECDC and its network of African CBOs work locally and nationally to assist those who begin anew in America.
Dr. Tsehaye Teferra is the President and CEO of the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. and currently serves as a Board Member of the Arlington, Virginia, Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and as a Board Member and Vice Chair of InterAction.