Ethiopian American, Mehret Mandefro, One of 15 White House Fellows

President Obama names Ethiopian American physician, Mehret Mandefro, as one of the 2009/2010 White House Fellows. (Photo by Kidane Mariam)

Press Release

The White House

WASHINGTON, DC – The White House announced today the appointment of 15 outstanding men and women to serve as White House Fellows. The 2009-2010 class of White House Fellows represents diverse cross-section of professions including medicine, business, media, education, non-profit and state government, as well as two branches of the U.S. military. The 2009-2010 class of Fellows and their biographies are included below.

“We are thrilled that these exceptional men and women will be joining us here in Washington for the next year,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “The program not only allows for a variety of perspectives to come together, offering expertise and experience to benefit the administration’s efforts, but these Fellows in turn carry what they’ve learned to their own communities to benefit Americans far beyond the walls of the White House.”

The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders “first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” This unique position in our nation’s government encourages active citizenship and service to the nation. The Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, military operations, and current affairs. Community service is another important component of the program, and Fellows participate in service projects throughout the year in the Washington, DC area. Since 1964, over 600 outstanding American men and women have participated in the White House Fellows program, each chosen because of their extraordinary leadership ability and service to others.

Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of remarkable professional achievement early in one’s career, evidence of leadership potential, a proven commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the Federal government. Throughout its history, the program has fostered leaders in many fields including Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, U.S. Representative Joe Barton, writer Doris Kearns Goodwin, former Travelocity CEO Michelle Peluso, former CNN Chairman and CEO Tom Johnson, former Univision President Luis Nogales, and U.S. Court of Appeals Judges M. Margaret McKeown and Deanell Tacha.

2009-2010 Class of White House Fellows

Mehret Mandefro, 32. Hometown: Alexandria, VA. Mehret Mandefro is a primary care physician and HIV prevention researcher. She most recently was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. Her research addresses the intersection of violence prevention and HIV prevention and the application of digital media in translating research. She completed a Primary Care internal medicine residency at Montefiore Hospital where she founded a nonprofit called TruthAIDS that is focused on health literacy efforts among vulnerable populations. Mehret is the managing editor for and conducts workshops on HIV prevention, health disparities, and the public health uses of media nationally and internationally as part of TruthAIDS’ outreach efforts. Her ethnographic work about HIV positive women’s lives in the South Bronx and Ethiopia is the subject of a full-feature documentary film entitled All of Us, which premiered on Showtime Networks for World AIDS Day and is used nationwide by community-based organizations and universities as an educational tool. Mehret received a BA cum laude in Anthropology and a Medical Doctorate from Harvard University, and a Masters of Science in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar.

See the full list of White House Fellows at

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19 Responses to “Ethiopian American, Mehret Mandefro, One of 15 White House Fellows”

  1. 1 tatek teklyohannes Jun 27th, 2009 at 3:19 am

    keep it up Mehret Mandefro!!

  2. 2 Mulumebet Amare Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    We are so proud of you. Keep up the good work Mehret.

  3. 3 Debre Tabor Jun 28th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Very well done. Kudos. After watching the above video I am still perplexed to know what is the difference between a partnership and solidarity.

  4. 4 James E. Hartman, III Jun 29th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Very Strong American Woman,,Fabulous!

  5. 5 Yacob Haile-Mariam Jul 14th, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Dear Mehret

    Needless to tell you that as a friend of your family and as an Ethiopian I am very proud of you.I live in Ethiopia and I will spread the news of your great achievement here so that other young Ethiopians will be inspired by what you have been able to accomplish.

    I am confident you will continue to shine in whatever you will be doing.

    With best wishes
    Yacob Haile-Mariam

  6. 6 Desalegn Ali Jul 28th, 2009 at 8:26 am

    really you are the strong and Well-built. So be with us with beyond your great achievement. Quality is the degree of Excellence.
    KEEP IT UP!!!!!

  7. 7 Lemlem Wolde Aug 21st, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Great Achievement Meheret. You are a model to the Young Ethiopian women. Keep up the good work.

    Lemlem Wolde
    From Addis

  8. 8 tesfahun Sep 16th, 2009 at 5:58 am

    we are really proud of you.its something big for u and people here in ethiopia.

  9. 9 Elias Asfaw Sep 19th, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Dear Mehret Mandefro

    God bless you a lot for what you have done. Your achievement inspired us as an Ethiopian young student.

    Very very interesting to see just like you as a hero for the next of our carrier. Continue exerting your effort, God will help you.

    Wishing all the best in your future carrier!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    From Elias Asfaw(student), Facility of Public health, Jimma university

  10. 10 Deng Chuol Yiech Sep 19th, 2009 at 9:39 am


    Keep it up!! many change from personal to community have been seen at this Era of our World well known action oriented -OBAMA!

    Once again Congratulation Mehret Mandefro!

    Gambella Region,Ethiopia(The great land of Diversities)

  11. 11 Abiy Yilma Sep 22nd, 2009 at 5:42 am

    It is inspirational and motivational for all fellow Ethiopians. It was very awesome for me when I heard the news that what you did and what you are all-Keep pressing forward.

    -Stay blessed-

    Abiy Yilma

  12. 12 Sahra Ali-David Dec 3rd, 2009 at 12:39 pm


    Your are doing a wonderful job, so proud of you, hope our brothers and sisters follow your foot steps.
    Many blessing! Much love.

  13. 13 LUBABAAS AMMAYYU Dec 22nd, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Oh! You deserve it. Be ready even for more….

  14. 14 Lloyd H Guy Feb 22nd, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I was hoping that I could possibly share something with you in regards to your documentary “All of Us”. I know I may be late in seeing it on Showtime. However, I am deeply moved when I see people such as yourself with your ambitious nature choosing to help others. It touches me deeply. I can’t help it. It’s just who I’ve grown to be.
    I’m a single parent of four and I just wanted to give you my perspective.
    I have been abstinent for, I think eight years now, celibate for close to two. As a person who had sex almost everyday to and three times a day with my children’s mother, I’d sulk like a little child when she’d finally breakdown and say no.
    When we broke up? I tried to continue the same type of sexual behavior with her and other’s but I realized it wasn’t good, especially with me raising four children, three of them girls. So here I am today still growing without. I can credit only GOD.
    However men act the way that we act because we are selfish like children. I tell my children that I will know when they’ve matured because they’ll think less about themselves and more about others. Men are like children selfish and until we grow we can’t possibly see past ourselves enough to be concern about how women feel. If they say no it’s either “what did I do”, “why are you acting like that toward me” or “she must be seeing someone eles other than me”. But if you examine what I just said carefully, you’ll see that I couldn’t see past myself. But in order for men to stop being psycho-demanding about sex. We first have to stop having it. Most of us are sex addicticts and the term is highly under rated. And until we stop having it, we’ll never be able to see it for the beauty of its design. Just imagine, a male waits and longs but because he is a gentleman he does not persist until his female partner approaches him with that certain look of desire and they let nature take its course. No words necessary. Marriage first of course. I just wanted to share that with you. I hope’s its helpful and/or useful to you. I pray your continued growth and success.

    Sincerely Lloyd

  15. 15 anteneh Jun 29th, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Big congrats to Mehret!

  16. 16 Dubaya Lekemisha Aug 5th, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Solidarity is participatory interest in achieving common or shared-goals in doing so,one may succeede or fail;however,it is a risk taking venture with hope to succeed.

    Partnership is doing something for the purpose of sharing life or business;there might not be firm committments to going along together as one of the partner might quit or seek better opportunity.I believe,solidarity is the highest degree of partnership with strong purpose to bring about radical or drastic change.

  17. 17 anteneh mitiku Sep 9th, 2010 at 2:56 am

    keep it up mehret mandefro

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