Kongit Girma: Spotlight on Board Members!

Whether they are contributing to fundraising/donor engagement, translation/cultural knowledge, organizational development, or financial expertise, the Roots Ethiopia Board is a critical part of providing the financial resources and fiscal oversight needed to enable the work we all do for rural Ethiopian communities.

We’d like to introduce Kongit Girma, one of two Ethiopian-born members who serve Roots Ethiopia from the USA. (Read to the end if you would like to know more about service on Roots Ethiopia’s incredible Board of Directors!)

Kongit helps the Board to view decisions through a truly Ethiopian-centered “lens”, as well as sharing her wealth of knowledge about elementary education, languages, issues concerning Ethiopian women and children, and cultural nuance. Her enthusiasm for pitching in and helping out…whether she is reviewing a program idea or translating a document…is contagious and inspired. She is also not afraid to ask the tough questions that keep conversations centered on our most important stakeholders, Ethiopian communities, and beneficiaries.

  • Kongit, what inspired you to serve as a Board Member for Roots Ethiopia?

“Before I joined Roots Ethiopia, I wanted to give back to my native country and Roots Ethiopia’s mission answered my calling. My background is in education and I was inspired by the work that Roots Ethiopia has done before I joined the Board. I like their direct support to families, students, and schools as well as Roots Ethiopia’s approach in asking what is needed in the communities instead of imposing services the way we—living in the USA—see fit.”

  • What do you do outside of serving on the Roots Ethiopia Board?

    “I have retired from my regular work in the field of education and refugee support but continue to serve the immigrant community with translation, referral to services, and consulting. Aside from my work on the Roots Ethiopia Board, I serve the Madonna Mission in Chicago and, in addition, tutor middle school students in Madonna Mission’s afterschool program. I travel back and forth to Ethiopia supporting communities in areas of education and new ventures. I belong to an online discussion group that encourages volunteerism in Ethiopia.  I love to travel and enjoy visiting new places and family.”

    • What is something meaningful you’ve learned or experienced via your Board service?

    “I have learned that Board service is supporting the organization’s mission and vision daily, and thinking of ways to help the organization grow.  Supporting ideas, suggesting strategies, fundraising, and also keeping up with updates of Roots Ethiopia’s fieldwork. Having consensus in decision making and truly thinking for the benefit of the people we serve.”

    • What is a favorite memory/story of how your Board service helped to deliver something impactful in Ethiopia?

    “My visit to service sites and directly seeing the people benefiting from the programs have helped me understand the impact of our programs better. In return, I’ve continued to advocate for the  Self Help Group to grow in scale, where today we have grown that program from one group of women in one community to over 60 groups across four geographical zones collaborating, developing their small business skills and saving to improve the lives of their families!  My field visit also helped me to understand our organizational structure better and where it needed some changes so that we can continue to grow and serve our communities better.”

    • Thank you, Kongit, for your wise counsel, your compassion, and your enthusiastic efforts to support our work in Ethiopia!

    If you know of someone who would be a passionate, dependable, thoughtful, and committed team member and they would like more information about Board service at Roots Ethiopia, please have them contact Roots Ethiopia Nominating Committee at info@rootsethipia.org for more information and a Board Service information package!

    Roots Ethiopia’s board members embrace a mix of advisory and working roles, while collectively acting as fiduciaries who support Roots Ethiopia towards a sustainable future. They oversee the drafting and adoption of sound, ethical and legal governance policies, and make sure that Roots Ethiopia has adequate resources to advance and sustain its mission.

    Roots Ethiopia selects new members for board positions on a rotating basis. We include members of many different talents and are interested in candidates with skills/experience in marketing, grant writing, fundraising, and donor network development.

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