The Tesfa Foundation was founded in 2004 to commemorate the life of Leeza Woubshet.
Hope is a virtue that meant the world to her. Her greatest dream was someday to help the children of her native country of Ethiopia and guide them to real hope in their lives.
Leeza, (Fregenet Woubshet), a 29-year-old American citizen of Ethiopian origin, died in an auto accident in the summer of 2003. She had just completed her education in accounting, and was about to embark on the work she saw for herself ahead: the support of her family in Ethiopia and, in the longer term, the assistance of the children of Ethiopia.
She wanted to found a school for disadvantaged children in Addis Ababa. After she died, a group of friends and family decided her dream wouldn't die. From this emerged the Tesfa Foundation.
The first school to be opened with Tesfa support was the Tsegereda Memorial Kindergarten, opened in October, 2004, in a very impoverished northern district of the city called Shiro Meda. The name of the school, Tsegereda, was suggested by Leeza's mother. She said that Tsegereda, or Rose, was Leeza's nickname when she was little. Today, the Tsegereda School is still going strong. Its first graduates are working their way through primary school, several of them routinely at the top of their class.
By 2006, Tesfa was expanding beyond this base, funding two new schools outside of Addis Ababa. Supporters in the UK formed an affiliate organization in England, Tesfa-UK, which partners with the US organization on several major projects.
In 2007, Team Tesfa was founded. This program grew out of Dana's interest in the runners of Ethiopia. There are thousands of amateur long-distance runners in Addis Ababa, both men and women. They lead hard lives, pursuing success in Ethiopia's favorite sport with scarce resources. And among these struggling athletes are many teens who have fled the countryside, escaping arranged marriages or bleak futures on farms that are far from any schools. They find themselves very vulnerable in the capital city. Team Tesfa seeks to address these needs of women and girls in vulnerable circumstances.
By 2012, Tesfa has funded eight schools in Ethiopia. Team Tesfa is thriving, with 50+ athletes competing locally, its second cohort of teens moved into the safe house, its first cohort of teens founding a small charity of their own to support more teens and women, and the Team Tesfa Cafe starting to turn a profit for betterment of athletes' lives.
We hope that Leeza would have been proud!
Founder & Executive Director
Dana was a teacher for many years in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Inspired by the commitment of his fiancee, Leeza, to provide education to disadvantaged children in her native country of Ethiopia, Dana was moved to establish the Tesfa Foundation after her untimely passing. Since then, he has served as executive director of the Tesfa Foundation, spending the better part of each year in Ethiopia.
Kelsey Krupp, PR & Fundraising Support
Kelsey Krupp holds a BA in Geography with an additional major in Community Relations and a specialization in African Studies from Michigan State University. In 2011 she studied abroad in South Africa working with an NGO in Zonkizizwe for youth development. She lives in Lansing.
Scott Wolf, Support Services
Scott has been with the Tesfa Foundation since its inception. He is a muscian and lives in Minneapolis. With a backround in banking, commercial insurance, and at the YWCA he loves putting his customer service, sales, and administrative experience to work so that Tesfa can achieve its mission.
Menna Alemu, Gililu Alemayehu, Tesfahun Andarge, Cien Kielty-Lucas
Board of Directors
Julie is a writer living in Los Angeles. She and her husband adopted a brother and sister from Kololo, Ethiopia in 2009. She has been a Tesfa board member since 2011.
Jeffrey joined Tesfa in 2012 and believes in the ability for education to uplift a community. He lives in Minneapolis and studies business at the University of Minnesota. His professional background includes employment with the U.S. Department of State and service in the U.S. Army.
Stephanie is an artist who has been with Tesfa since 2006. She calls Grand Rapids, Michigan home, though is often off on new adventures. Stephanie travels regularly to Ethiopia and is passionate about art as a means of development and education.
Tanya is a mother, teacher and traveler. She is married to Eric and has two incredible sons from Ethiopia. She is the Tesfa board chairperson and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
2004: The Tsegereda School opens, a kindergarten serving 60 underprivileged children in the Shiro Meda district o Addis Ababa.
2006: Schools 2 and 3 open in Mojo and Debre Zeit, towns near Addis Ababa.
2006: Tesfa UK founded in London
2007: School 4 built in a village outside Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia
2007: Team Tesfa founded.
2008: School 5 opened in Mojo and Teen House founded.
2009: School 6 opened in the Mercato district of Addis Ababa.
2010: School 7 built in the village of Ekodaga outside Chancho.
2012: School 8 in the village of Kololo in the Kembata-Tembaro region.
2012: 5x3 campaign announced