ECDC is saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend and board chairman, Gebreselassie Gebremariam.
Gebre was born in Embasineyti, Adwa, Tigrai, in northern Ethiopia, on August 25, 1942, to his father Gebremariam Hadgu, and his mother Leteset Tesema. He moved to the ancient city of Axum to live with his uncles, where he completed his primary education. He continued his secondary education in Debre Zeit with a scholarship from an evangelical school. He entered Haile Selassie University (now Addis Ababa University) to study public administration, graduating in 1964. He later earned an M.A. in Economics from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 1966, and graduated with an L.L.B. (Law), from Addis Ababa University, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1976.
As a young man he became involved in the burgeoning labor movement in Ethiopia. He co-founded the Confederation of Ethiopian Labor Unions (CELU), the first national labor confederation in Ethiopia, in 1963. He went on to serve as an advisor to the Ethiopian Ministry of Labor and later the Ministry of Interior.
Because of the human rights violations committed by the military regime at the time, he fled Ethiopia as a refugee with his wife and two children, traveling on foot to Sudan. He later moved to the United States with his family and worked for the African American Labor Center, which later became known as the Solidary Center. Gebre worked for the Solidarity Center for over 20 years in various capacities, including as program officer and country director throughout the Middle East and Africa, leading efforts to protect workers and their unions in the struggle for respect, fair wages, and a voice in the global economy.
In addition to serving as ECDC’s Board Chair, Gebre served as a Board Member of ECDC/Enterprise Development Group. We are thankful for his outstanding leadership, friendship, guidance, and wisdom. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends, the ECDC family, and his community.
Gebre is survived by his wife, Assefash Tesfatsion, his three sons, Michael, Yohannes, and Lilai, and his two grandchildren, Ben and Evelyn.