Advisory Board 2012

Liya Kebede

Liya Kebede is an internationally recognized actress, supermodel, designer, and maternal health advocate. Last year, Kebede established herself as a leading actress starring in the title role of the film Desert Flower, directed by Sherry Hormann, which was released domestically by National Geographic. Liya will next star in Giuseppe Tornatore's The Best Offer alongside Geoffrey Rush as well as Hilary Brougher's Innocence. Prior to that, she appeared in Alain Chabat's Marsupilami well as Jean-Jacques Annnaud's Black Gold.
Liya is the founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation, an Advisory Board member for the Mother's Day Every Day campaign, and was a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization's maternal and child health program for the past six years. She is dedicated to reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality and to improving the well-being of mothers and children worldwide. During her time as a WHO ambassador, she was a vocal advocate for health, empowerment and development causes impacting women. In 2006, she founded the Liya Kebede Foundation, which raises awareness, promotes proven, low-cost interventions, which reduce maternal and child mortality, and educates health workers.
Liya has been featured multiple times on the cover of American VOGUE and has appeared in runway shows and major print campaigns for top designers around the world. FORBES has named her one of the top 15 highest earning models and she was named one of TIME MAGAZINE'S '100 Most Influential People' of 2010. In 2007, Liya launched a home and clothing line called lemlem which supports Ethiopia's local weaving traditions. The line debuted its first collection in Spring 2008 featuring clothing handmade in Ethiopia and in the spring of 2012 the line expanded to include a home collection. -


Salem Mekuria

Salem Mekuria is the Luella LaMer Professor of Women’s Studies in the Art Department at Wellesley College. Originally from Ethiopia, she currently lives in the United States. Since 1987, she has been an independent writer, producer, director, video-grapher, and a video installation artist.
Her award winning documentary films and video installations feature Ethiopian subjects and have been shown internationally.
Among the numerous honors she has received are: a Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2005-06; Fulbright Scholar award, 2003-04; The New England Media Fellowship, 2001; the Rockefeller Foundation's Intercultural Media Fellowship, 1995; Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest International Artists Residency Fellowship in 1993; a fellowship at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Harvard University, 1990-92; the Massachusetts Artists Foundation Award in 1991.


Nahu Senay Girma

Recognized for her strengths in communication, persuasion, and initiating and leading individuals through rapidly changing situations, Nahu’s career has spanned three continents, a host of non-profit organizations, NGOs and international organizations. She most recently served as Director for Children’s Services International, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia, where she led efforts to develop educational projects for Ethiopia’s children and young adults. Prior to that, she was a Principal of Cross-Cultural Connections in Atlanta, where she developed and conducted cross-cultural training seminars for companies such as IBM, Scientific-Atlanta, Delta Airlines and BellSouth. She has also conducted several team building and conflict resolution programs for the US Government.
In addition to being responsible for the success of Optima and its clients, Nahu Girma has conducted leadership skills training programs for the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and a variety of management training courses for a number of prominent organizations, such as Ethiopian Airlines. Nahu is also one of the founders of “Women for Life”, a Foundation created to expand and upgrade Gandhi Hospital become a state of the art women medical center in the country which will also complement the Ethiopian Government’s effort to reduce the high maternal mortality that plagues the country.

  Nahu Senay Girma


Christoph Mohni

Christoph Mohni is an international development consultant of French and Swiss origin. He lived and worked in Ethiopia from 2009 to 2012 and is now based in Munich, Germany. Christoph Mohni holds a Master’s degree in contemporary history, social anthropology and sociology from the University of Berne, Switzerland. He speaks German, French, English and Spanish.
Christoph Mohni is a movie-lover and has been interested in cinema and especially World Cinema for a very long time. While based in Abu Dhabi from 2006 to 2009, he started curating weekly world cinema series for the local Cultural Authority. Moving to Ethiopia, Christoph Mohni started doing the same in the framework of the Blue Nile Film and Television Academy (BNFTA).
The series aimed at exposing emerging Ethiopian filmmakers to cinema as an international language and art as well as a source of creative inspiration. While there are wonderful, remarkable films, past and present, from all over the world beyond Hollywood that deserve to be known and seen, in Ethiopia, as in many other countries, rarely anyone has access to this heritage of international art.
Christoph Mohni also organized the 1st Swiss Film Week in combination with a short film competition. He was one of the initiators of the educational feature film project “Horizon Beautiful” or “Admasu Amare”, a co-production between Blue Nile Film and Television Academy and tellfilm Switzerland. As a development consultant, Christoph Mohni, is convinced of the fundamental importance of culture for a society’s ability to be the master of its own destiny. Film is a powerful tool to raise critical issues, to question the policies of the powerful and to promote reflection about the challenges that a society has to face. In Christoph Mohni’s perspective, culture and art is thus as indispensable for human existence as food, shelter or healthcare.

  Christoph Mohni


Efrem Amdework

In addition to his expertise in urban management, Efrem Amdework is a highly qualified networking and event planning professional. Efrem served in many governmental and nongovernmental organizations. For several years he has served as the deputy head of the bureau of trade, industry and urban development of the Tigray National Regional State.
Efrem has profound expertise in the policy and pubic management fields. Currently Efrem is a senior advisor at the Ethiopian Cities Association (ECA). Efrem is in the leading planning and management team of the Ethiopian Cities Day, an annual national happening of Ethiopian cities celebrated with various mega events for five consecutive days.



H.E Jean Christoph Billiard

Outgoing Ambassador of the Republic of France to Addis Ababa.

  French Embassy