TADIAS Year in Review: 2020 in Pictures

Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Updated: December 31st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Our cover picture of Dr. Tsion Firew — who was one of the many brave healthcare workers who were on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic earlier this year in New York City — captures the kernel of the year that was 2020. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people across America.

Beyond the ongoing global health and social crisis, there were some optimistic moments in 2020 including the swift development of a vaccine as well as the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election.

Some of the inspiring news stories we highlighted on our website this year include the recent naming of Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, who was voted “the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.”

Equally exciting was the announcement in September that Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste’s blockbusters new novel The Shadow King was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world.

Similarly two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew and Elizabeth Giorgis, were named winners of the 2020 African Studies Book Prize.

In the art world there was our feature of Free Art Felega, a virtual Ethiopia exhibition organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate, bringing together artists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora. As the announcement stated: The basic concept was “based on the focus of life and work of the participating artists in times of COVID-19 and the reflection of joint work in the context of the social challenge caused by the changing environment.”

We wish our readers around the world a healthier and more prosperous 2021! Below are some of the top stories we’ve shared on Tadias this past year.

Happy New Year!

Naomi Girma Voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year


Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. (Photo: Us Soccer)

This year U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain Naomi Girma was voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. According to the sports news website U.S. Soccer, Naomi, “who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship. As a team captain, Girma started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament to help the USA earn a berth to the since-cancelled 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and win the regional title, defeating Mexico, 4-1 in the championship game. She finished third on the team in minutes played while marshaling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score.” U.S. Soccer added that Naomi, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a first generation Ethiopian American, was “only the second pure defender to win the award in its 23-year existence. Fifteen U.S. Soccer Young Female Players of the Year have gone on to play in a senior level Women’s World Cup for the USA. The first winner, back in 1998, was current U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. Read more »

Maaza Mengiste on Booker Prize Shortlist


Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of the novels Beneath the Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King, the latter of which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. (Courtesy photo)

She did it again! In 2020 Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste, who released her best-selling book The Shadow King the previous year, was named one of the final candidates for the prestigious Booker Prize. The New York-based writer was among the six authors shortlisted for the esteemed Booker Prize. The shortlist was chosen out of 162 books and as organizers noted Maaza, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is “a Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation programme at Queens College, she is the author of The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, named one of the Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.” Read more »

Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Win the 2020 African Studies Book Prize


The award, which was announced on November 21st, 2020 during the African Studies Association’s virtual annual meeting, “recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year.” (Photos: Elizabeth W. Giorgis/@AsiaArtArchive & Adom Getachew/Princeton University Press)

Adom Getachew and Elizabeth W. Giorgis were declared winners in separate categories of the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA) book prize in November during the organization’s virtual annual meeting. Adom, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, was awarded the ASA Best Book Prize, while Elizabeth, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, was given the East African Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, which recognizes the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar. Read more »

Dr. Wuleta Lemma Among Top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes


Dr. Wuleta Lemma is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks, an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa.” (Photo: BIA)

Dr. Wuleta Lemma, an Ethiopian American health care entrepreneur representing Ethiopia, was among the top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes announced this past summer by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative. Dr Wuleta, who is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks — an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa’ – was chosen from a pool of 22,000 candidates across the continent. According to her bio shared with Tadias: “Dr. Wuleta is a Tropical Medicine expert working for the last 25 years mostly on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, MNCH and Communicable Diseases. In the last number of years, Dr. Lemma has been involved in health projects in more than 20 countries in Africa, The Caribbean and Europe. During the past couple years, She had conducted research/evaluations on endemic health problems, Human Resource for Health (HRH), Innovative Medical Education, Behavioral Surveillance on high risk populations in a number of countries; contributed to research on Health outcomes of countries of the Horn of Africa and Health System Strengthen in Ethiopia.” Read more »

Ethio-American Scientist Sossina Haile Awarded 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship


The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina Haile for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” (Photo: ETHIOPIA 2050 – Keynote Address/YouTube)

In December Sossina M. Haile, a Professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, was awarded the 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship, a prestigious accolade that recognizes the career contributions of scientists in her field. The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” Dr. Sossina received the award on December 3rd during the 2020 Virtual MRS Spring/Fall Meeting, where she also delivered her lecture, Superprotonic Solid Acids for Sustainable Energy Technologies. Most recently Dr. Sossina and her team were behind a new discovery that converts ammonia to green hydrogen that’s being hailed as “a major step forward for enabling a zero-pollution, hydrogen-fueled economy.” Read more »

Rebecca Haile Elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List


Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., has been elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States. (Photo: Rebecca Haile speaking at The Haile-Manas Academy Groundbreaking Ceremony & Luncheon in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia on December 30th, 2018/Tadias File)

Also in December, entrepreneur and philanthropist Rebecca Haile was elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List, America’s largest resource for women in politics that helps to elect Democratic female candidates into public office. The press release added: “This change in leadership comes as EMILY’s List is at its strongest position yet, following two record cycles and the incredible growth of Democratic women running for office.” The organization noted that EMILY’s List’s new Board Chair Rebecca Haile is an entrepreneur in business and philanthropy. “She is the co-founder and executive director of Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., that seeks to provide world-class educational opportunities for talented Ethiopian students and has already started its first school in central Ethiopia. Rebecca is also a Senior Advisor at Foros, an independent strategic and M&A advisory boutique firm she helped establish in 2009. Rebecca is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir of her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and 25 years in the United States. Rebecca is a board member of the Brearley School, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City and a former Trustee of Freedom House, a human rights organization.” In a statement Rebecca said: “I look forward to working with the staff, the board, and our next president to change the face of American politics for generations to come.” Read more »

Marcus Samuelsson Named Guest Editor of Bon Appétit Magazine


Marcus Samuelsson visits SiriusXM Studios on February 26, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Celebrity chef, author and businessman Marcus Samuelsson, whose latest book The Rise was released in 2020, was also named guest editor of the holiday edition of Bon Appétit magazine, America’s leading food and entertainment publication since it was launched in 1956. The Editor-in-Chief of Vogue and Artistic Director of Condé Nast — the parent company of Bon Appétit — Anna Wintour said in a statement: “It’s an honor to welcome such a bold and brilliant culinary force like Marcus to the Bon Appétit team. He is a visionary and inspiration to so many in the food world and beyond, from aspiring entrepreneurs and home cooks to today’s most renowned chefs. We can’t wait for our audience to get cooking with him.” Marcus Samuelsson added: “Now is a time of seismic change not only within our culinary world but in our communities at large and we have a responsibility and opportunity to come together to show how food is a reflection of our cultures, our societal values, and our individuality. I learned from working in restaurants at a young age that you’re nobody without your crew. To make a meaningful impact means both empowering the incredible talents around you and enlisting those you admire to share their stories and lend their voice. l’m looking forward to joining forces with Sonia and the team to work toward this greater goal.” Read more »

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden


Addisu Demissie who served as a Senior Advisor to then U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party that took place in August of 2020. (Photo: 50+1 Strategies)

One of the most widely circulated and quoted stories that we did in 2020 was our interview with Addisu Demissie, who served as a Senior Advisor to the Biden campaign, and was the lead person behind the nominating convention for the Democratic Party last summer. Addisu successfully pulled off the first-ever nominating convention held online, introducing a major party ticket to American voters across the nation. Prior to the convention Addisu told Tadias: “It’s gonna be nothing like anything anyone has ever done before, but we have a mission – and that is to present Joe Biden to the country. He is somebody who has been in public life for 40 years, but still people need a better sense of who he is and what he’s fighting for.” As it turned out it was a winning strategy. Read more »

Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


On Sunday, October 25th, 2020 Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

During the closing days of the U.S. presidential election in late October 2020 Tadias hosted a well-received lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in the U.S.


The highly competitive 2020 U.S. election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office, including Samra Brouk of New York and Oballa Oballa of Austin, Minnesota. (Courtesy photos)

The 2020 highly competitive election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office including Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, who won a seat in the New York State Senate and Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia who captured a City Council seat in Austin, Minnesota. Samra and Oballa — who both became the first Black candidates to win their respective races — follow in the footsteps of other trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa of Nevada who two years ago became the first Ethiopian American to be elected into a statewide office; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, a Councilman in King County, Washington, as well as the late Mike Mekonnen who served as Councilor for the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts for more than a decade. Here are the bios of the current Ethiopian American office holders in the United States: Read more »

Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

Related:

Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

2018 in Pictures

The 10 Best Tadias Arts & Culture Stories of 2017 in Pictures

2016 in Pictures

15 Arts & Culture Stories of 2016 in Photos

2015 in Pictures

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015

2014 in Pictures

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

2013 in Pictures

Top 10 Stories of 2013

Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013

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