Bridging Ethiopia's core vision is to be a vessel for lifelong learning,professional development, and service opportunities that benefit the people of Ethiopia. Bridging Ethiopia works to facilitate volunteer opportunities and professional internship programs in Ethiopia. The program is focused on sharing professional experiences and skills to universities and government organizations to improve infrastructure, healthcare, and information technology systems.

Dr. Fassil B. MesfinFassil B. Mesfin, MD, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor with tenure, an Assistant Program Director for Neurosurgery Residency Program and a Director of Complex Spine and Spine Oncology in the Division of Neurological Surgery at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Before joining the faculty at the Hugh E. Stephenson, Jr., MD, Department of Surgery, Dr. Mesfin was an assistant professor and Director of Spine at the State University of New York in Syracuse.

Dr. Mesfin completed his Fellowship in Neurosurgical Spine Oncology including complex spine and stereotactic radiosurgery training at the University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center. During his fellowship, Dr. Mesfin was appointed as a clinical specialist at the Department of Neurosurgery and Critical Care at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Mesfin’s residency training was at Albany Medical Center Hospital. Dr. Mesfin specializes in complex tumor spine, minimally invasive spine procedures, and pain modulating procedures including steroid injections, sympathectomy, spinal cord stimulator placement and, intrathecal pump placement. He performed numerous peripheral nerves procedures including excision of the tumor, carpal tunnel release, and repair/decompression damage nerves.

A member of Alpha Omega Alpha, Dr. Mesfin completed his M.D. and Ph.D. in molecular biology and molecular biology from Albany Medical College. His doctoral thesis was focused on anti-cancer drug design and development, which he has multiple patents for novel agents with anti-breast cancer and brain tumor activities. For his research efforts, Dr. Mesfin was awarded a number of research grants including the RUNN Resident Research Award from Society of Neurological Surgeons, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Academic Medicine Fellowship, and US Army Breast Cancer Post-Doctoral Training Grant.

Dr. Mesfin is involved in the Federation of International Education in Neurosurgery (FIENS) which trainees Neurosurgical Residents in countries such as Ethiopia. He has also involved Madaktari Africa, a Neurosurgery Mission to Tanzania. The goal of the trip was to provide training of local physicians in order to improve neurosurgical care in where they have no neurosurgeons with a goal making it self-sustaining.

Dr. Mesfin has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals including in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Neurosurgery, and Neurosurgery.

Dr. Addisu MesfinAddisu Mesfin, MD, is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester. He is also the Director of the Louis A. Goldstein Spine Surgery Fellowship. He completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Residency at the world renown John Hopkins Hospital. He completed the prestigious Adult and Pediatric Spine Surgery Fellowship at the Washington University in St. Louis. He also completed traveling fellowships focusing on spine oncology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Kanazawa University and Keio University in Japan and at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in Italy. Dr. Mesfin is active in research and has presented at more than 165 local, national and international meetings along with more than 100 peer reviewed publications. He has won several awards for his research and has received grant funding for his spine research. He has served in the United States Army Reserves and has deployed to Afghanistan as the Orthopaedic Surgeon of a Forward Surgical Team (FST).

Mr. Belay NereaBelay Nerea, MS, PMP, is a Senior Structural/Bridge Engineer and Project Management Professional with extensive global working experience including in Ethiopia, the Middle East and the United States. He has worked in local and state government levels in the United States and has managed multidisciplinary projects of varying size and complexity that have capital of over 1 Billion dollars USD. Mr. Nerea was recognized by the department for his accomplishments of the construction of Stan Mutual Memorial Bridge over the Mississippi river and for the design built of eight hundred bridges made for the Safe and Sound Bridge Program that used throughout the state of Missouri. Mr. Nerea earned BS in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Missouri St. Louis and MS in Civil Engineering emphasis in Structural/Bridge Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology. Mr. Nerea is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Mr. Nerea is the visionary and one of the founders of Bridging Ethiopia. He is the primary contact person for infrastructure and engineering related matters and also provides guidance and direction for volunteers with the exchange programs. For Mr. Nerea, there is no greater calling than to serve God by serving fellow citizens and country. It has always been his vision to give back by sharing knowledge and skills with his community. He is very grateful to have found such outstanding friends and partners who possess the same vision.

Dr. Heidi J. WoraboHeidi J. Worabo, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) School of Nursing. Dr. Worabo teaches in the nurse practitioner program at UT Health San Antonio and serves as the Assistant Director of the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic where she provides healthcare for refugee patients and teaches interdisciplinary teams of students in the care of vulnerable populations, including new immigrants and resettled refugees. In an effort to expand access and improve care through a patient-centered and community-based approach, she has been involved in multiple projects to explore resettled refugees’ perceptions of healthcare in the United States, their views of preventive healthcare and their access to primary care.

Dr. Worabo earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana and her Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at which time she traveled to Ethiopia to complete her thesis entitled, “Perceptions of HIV Testing in Pregnant Women of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.” She went on to complete her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Nursing in 2012. While in St. Louis, she worked as a family nurse practitioner for the Institute for Family Medicine as well as for Children’s Gastroenterology specialty practice. Her doctoral project was a qualitative study on resettled refugees’ perceptions of healthcare in the U.S. Dr. Worabo has presented at several national conferences and authored multiple journal articles on the topic of refugee and immigrant health.

She has traveled with academic and faith-based organizations to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, El Salvador, and Costa Rica and advocates for cross-cultural, interprofessional experiences for students both domestically and internationally as a way to promote cultural understanding and compassionate care with a global perspective. She is well-versed in setting up clinics within established organizations to bring healthcare to people in need, thereby overcoming transportation barriers to accessing care. She has provided primary care in a domestic women’s shelter, a refugee resettlement agency, school-based health centers, preschools and churches. She assisted with establishing a nurse-run clinic in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While there, she also provided healthcare in an orphanage and school. Currently, she provides primary care to students and employees of UT Health San Antonio and at the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic.

Dr. Worabo has a historic connection to the country of Ethiopia. As featured in "The Ambo Evangelist Martyr | የኣምቦው ወንጌላዊው ሰማዕት" documentary, Her maternal grandparents, Ralph and Jean Larson, were Baptist missionaries in Ambo, Ethiopia in 1949. After two years of serving the Lord in Ambo, Pastor Ralph Larson was shot and killed in a robbery. He was just beginning to give sermons in Amharic and his wife was a nurse in a local clinic while also caring for their 2-year-old son, Carey and was pregnant with a girl, Sarah. The tragedy brought Jean, her son and in-utero daughter back to Duluth, Minnesota. In an interesting turn of events, Sarah’s daughter, Heidi, married Woju Worabo, a man from Ethiopia, in 2003. Even though Jean never returned to Ethiopia, her granddaughter has been able to connect with the people of this special land and witness the fruition of the gospel seed planted 60 years prior. Her grandmother, Jean, was a nurse, her mother Sarah is a nurse and now she has joined the nursing profession with a heart to serve in Ethiopia.

Mr. Woju WoraboWoju Worabo, MS, is part of the Information Technology team for the largest hospitality company in the Americas continent. Mr. Worabo was born and raised in Ethiopia. He earned his BS and MS in Computer Management and Information Systems from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and started his Information Technology (IT) career with The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, MO in 2006 as property IT Manager. In 2011, he was promoted to Multi-Property Systems Manager of the St. Louis area. Since 2008, Mr. Worabo had been serving as an adjunct professor for Saint Louis University teaching “Hospitality IT Management”. In 2012, he became the Director of Hotel Technology for the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. In this position, he successfully implemented a real-time communication apps for the resort, explored, developed, piloted and implemented several systems to solve the business challenges the resort faced. Mr. Worabo’s main area of focus had been responsibility for all hospitality systems, including software and networks. He had completed a 1.2-million-dollar project under budget and secured savings close to half a million dollars in capital costs. One of the latest accomplishments was the implementation of the very first Amazon Alexa in the hospitality industry; after which, many hospitality companies are following suit.

Mr. Worabo has won multiple awards including, Inventiveness Leader of the Year, the "You Rock" award, the Collaborative Leader of the Year award, and earned a certificate of appreciation from the White House Communications Agency for outstanding IT support of the Vice President of the United States. He also earned Valuing Associates of the Year Award, and IT Leadership of the Year Award for the Texas and Oklahoma region. He has been a guest speaker for the Missouri Meeting & Events Expo Plan IT Technology and Internet Security Panel Conference. He has won multiple Five Star Leader of the Quarter awards as well.

Mrs. Abigail BeleteAbigail Belete, MS, PMP, Multifaceted professional, powered with extensive information technology and business process experience in diverse industries. Demonstrate in-depth understanding and big-picture vision of key projects, with proven adeptness in managing all facets of project life cycle development. Decisive and direct in managing cross-functional teams toward the achievement of company objectives. Exhibit strong ability to identify primary success factors and carry out strategic decisions to ensure both short- and long-term positive impacts. Effective problem solver, motivator, and leader; able to design innovative solutions, facilitate strategic infrastructure and software projects and initiatives, and centralize customer interaction to deliver optimal results. Proven track record of efficiently determining and meeting client needs, crucial in amplifying competence, reducing needs for re-engineering, achieving operational efficiency, and surpassing company goals.

Abigail is a founder and project director for Berhan Yehun Ethiopia, Addis Ababa supporting 40-60 children so they get basic needs around Koshe/Kore. In her visits to Ethiopia, Abigail learns the biggest challenge is the quality of education the kids were being provided at the school. Abigael is a huge advocate for the provisioning of quality education. Abigail had been an Adjunct professor numerous times in her carrier. She recently moved back to Ethiopia for good in hopes to bring a difference in this up and coming country.

Dr. Solomon CherieSolomon G Cherie, Phd., is currently the international relation director, assistant Proffessor & Researcher at the Ethipian Space Science & Technology Institute (ESSTI). Solomon received his MSc in geology from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-KGP), India. He served the GSE in various positions from junior to senior geologist and Department Head as well as Deputy Director of the survey. In 2015, Solomon got his PhD in Geophysics from the Missouri University of Science & Technology (M S&T), Rolla, USA and joined the ESSTI as researcher and Assistant Professor. Solomon has participated as PI in the GSE-UTD (University of Texas at Dallas) and GSE- M S&T in Stratigraphic and structural evolution of the Blue Nile and installation and monitoring of 19 broadband seismic stations across the Afar Depression joint projects, respectively.

Mahilet AssefaMahilet Assefa is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate degree in Human Physiology at Boston University. She also attended three years of medical school at Jimma University School of Medicine before immigrating to the United States. During this time, she has witnessed the dire consequences caused by shortage of physicians and medical centers in the rural parts of Ethiopia which played an important role in intensifying her interest in working with underserved populations in the context of medicine. By utilizing her strong connection to medical schools in Ethiopia, she has organized medical mission trips that target underserved regions of the country and educational sessions that aim to educate physicians. Additionally, she leads a local nonprofit that hosts fundraisers in the U.S. and donates instructional books and essential supplies for schools in the rural areas of Ethiopia. Though balancing part-time work and studying continues to be a struggle, she is determined to give back to her community through volunteerism and education until she becomes a physician herself.

Mr. Samson EngedaSamson Engeda, MSc, SE With more than 30-years of structural engineering experience, SKS Engineering’s founder Samson Engeda excels in structural analysis and design of buildings ranging from single level to multi-level. He also has a diverse bridge design experience putting him in a unique category of engineers who are versatile in both vertical and horizontal construction so to speak. He has performed dynamic simulation of structures for wind and seismic impact analysis. Expert in seismic retrofit analysis and design of bridges and historic structures. Mr. Engeda is sought out by various government and municipal agencies for structural opinions and third-party reviews on complex/special bridge design projects throughout the State of CA. He has special expertise in the design of deep and shallow foundations. He has extensive knowledge of codes and regulations both for the United States and internationally, including AASHTO Bridge Design Specifications, IBC/ASCE 7, UBC and the Ethiopian Building Code. In addition, Mr. Engeda is a National Structural Exam writer with the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES). He also serves on FEMA’s Task Force 8 for the Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) assessing building and bridge’s safety for First Responder’s access after a national disaster.

Mr. Engeda holds a Master of Structural Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from College of Engineering, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He is a licensed structural and civil engineer in various States including California.

Mr. Samson EngedaAryam Tessema, MBA, Aryam earned her bachelor’s of science degree in Health Promotion/Public Health with Pre-Med concentration at Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia and her MBA with dual concentration in General Management and Health Care Management at Dallas Baptist University . Aryam had work experience in research at National Institutes of Health, NIH during her undergraduate studies as well as Piedmont Eye Center shadowing Ophthalmologists with her interest to study about eye care and treatment! She has also worked at Liberty University in the School of Education, Library and Alumni Center as well as Dallas Baptist University Health Services as Health Care professional. Currently she is working for Apple Digital Card at Goldman Sachs Bank USA as a Fraud and Dispute Specialist.

Dr. Shishay T. KidanuShishay T. Kidanu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor (tenure track) of geological engineering at the College of Engineering and Mines at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Prior to coming to the USA for his Ph.D. study in 2013, he was a faculty member in the department of earth Sciences at Mekelle University, Ethiopia, for more than six years, working in teaching, research and community services. Dr. Kidanu’s major fields of expertise are on engineering and environmental geophysics, applications of GIS and Remote Sensing for geologic hazard analysis and prediction, and landslide hazard mapping and characterization.

Dr. Kidanu was born and raised in Ethiopia. Dr. Kidanu earned his Bachelor of Science in Applied Geology at Mekelle University, Ethiopia; his Masters of Science in Earth Sciences with specialization in Engineering Geology at Graz University of Technology in Austria; and his Ph.D. in Geological Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Missouri, USA. His research experience is mainly on engineering and environmental geophysics, and application of GIS & Remote Sensing for geologic hazard analysis. Dr. Kidanu has presented his research work at several national and international conferences and authored multiple journal articles on the topic of Geophysics and application of GIS on geologic hazard analysis.

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