International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia

Seattle, WA |
Joined in June 2013

About Us

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A Vision for the Future

Ethiopia is the home of our most ancient history as humans. The discovery of the skeleton "Lucy" in 1974 near Hadar has given us one of the oldest and most complete hominids ever found, and our first evidence that humans walked on two feet 3.2 million years ago. Today, the remains of early human history and civilizations are evident in many UNESCO Heritage sites around the country.

Since its first election in 1993, Ethiopia continues to be an emerging democracy with a growing middle class, a declining poverty rate, and a budget which has devoted 25% to education.

Current Challenges in Secondary Education in Ethiopia

In recent decades, however, governmental instabilities, drought, AIDS and other troubles have devastated Ethiopia’s infrastructure. The population has grown dramatically in the past few decades, and 46% of its 81 million people are under the age of 14. More than 50% of those over 15 cannot read or write and only 30% attend secondary school. In a country that must prioritize survival for its residents, there simply are not sufficient resources to support and encourage young people who have academic promise. The government has been able to establish elementary schools for virtually all children, but there is a scarcity of secondary schools.

The Unique Approach of ILAE

At ILAE, we will focus on bridging this gap between potential and possibility. Most of the students will come from underserved urban and rural areas, and will be selected for their academic potential as well as for their leadership potential. Most of these students will pay no tuition. In 2013 we will open the school with one class of 50 - 100 ninth grade students, add

The ILAE Board

From Left to Right: Daniel Tarekegn, Dr. Neal Sobania, Ellen Taussig, Panos Haztiandreas, Niomi Fisseha, Bee G. Lim, Haddis Tadesse

Board members not shown: Deborah Agrin, Deanna Petersen

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ing an additional ninth grade class each successive year.

The educational and youth development experience that students will receive at ILAE will be comparable to that offered by the leading secondary schools in the world. Upon graduation, our students will be prime candidates for enrollment in and scholarships to the world’s top universities. Their experiences at ILAE will prepare them for a lifetime of social responsibility and international leadership.

ILAE will function on the most carefully researched principles of global education, especially those of collaboration and shared creativity. Through a virtual curriculum shared with students in other countries, in particular those in The Northwest School’s seven-country partnership (China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Spain, Taiwan and the United States), students will graduate as citizens of a global community with which they can have continuing relationships.

To date, we have developed an innovative curriculum, our school’s centerpiece. It is informed by Ethiopia’s national curriculum, The Northwest School’s curriculum (based on student-centered learning and an integrated Humanities curriculum), traditional Ethiopian educational and cultural values and best practices from around the world.

Components include:

  • Highest quality curriculum and instruction
  • Leadership through service
  • Locally robust, globally connected
  • Technology
  • Sustainability

And traditional Ethiopian values including:

  • Respect for nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia
  • Religious tolerance
  • Respect for gender diversity
  • Ethiopian identity
  • Community values
  • Respect for elders
  • Agricultural roots
  • Knowledge acquisitions

In order to ensure the success of underserved students, we will pilot a preparatory program in April 2013 to support students. The program will be an after-school, weekend and summer program adapted from Seattle-based Rainier Scholars work. Our preparatory program’s students will make up some of the ILAE entry class in 2013.

Once our school has been established and students begin to benefit from the curriculum, we will expect them to make measurable contributions to their towns of origin, to their country and to the global community. We expect our graduates not only to complete college, but also to demonstrate leadership and provide other significant contributions to the community within a ten-year period of graduating college. As the activities of alumni are the best measurement of a school’s success, ILAE will track all of its alumni, adopting systems used by leading schools in the developed world.

ILAE at a Glance

The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE) is a college preparatory boarding and day school for 400 Ethiopian students in grades 9-12. It will open in September, 2013, in Addis Ababa.


To offer an education that inspires, nurtures and develops young women and men to be leaders in their communities, in Ethiopia and beyond.


To offer a global education that nurtures students to discover their purpose, challenges them to think critically, empowers them to set and surpass their own standards, and inspires them to contribute to the leadership efforts of Ethiopia and Africa.

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Partner Network

The Northwest School

The Northwest School is a college preparatory school in Seattle, Washington, USA, serving 480 students in grades 6 – 12. Founded by three teachers in 1978, it has won the national Blue Ribbon award of Excellence, as well as many other state and national distinctions. The school is centered on a professional community of master teachers who engage each student in sequential, cross-disciplinary studies in the Humanities, Sciences, and the Arts. The school is guided by the principles of "courtesy and common sense." As a result , the school graduates students with historical, scientific, artistic, and global perspectives, enabling them to think and act with integrity, believing they have a positive impact on the world.

The Global Partner School Network

ILAE will be the seventh school in the Global Partner School Network, an association of schools in China, El Salvador, France, Spain, Taiwan, and the United States. The GPSN offers a virtual learning community in which a classroom in any partner school can connect with any other classroom through shared curriculum. The goal is to expand the meaning of "classroom" so that it becomes routine for students to interact with their peers from around the world as easily as they do with those who are sitting across a desk.


United States – The Northwest School



El Salvador



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Board and Staff

Haddis Tadesse

Founder and Board


Haddis, an Ethiopian American, has years of leadership experience in diplomacy, policy, and strategic development. He was recently appointed as the first official representative of The Gates Foundation in Ethiopia. He has a M.P.A. from the University of Washington.

International Leadership Acaemcy is ILAE’s parent organization, a nonprofit 501c(3) organization registered in the State of Washington. ILA has a governing board and Executive Director, and Chief Operating Officer who possess the academic excellence, superb leadership skills, strategic agility and innovation, passion for education, and global perspective necessary for effective oversight of the creation of ILAE. The Executive Director will be responsible for the search and hiring of ILAE’s head of school who will ultimately be accountable for running and growing the school.

Ellen Taussig

Executive Director

Ellen Taussig is a professional educator who brings to ILAE over 40 years of experience as a successful leader in secondary education. She co-founded The Northwest School in Seattle, WA in 1978 and served as its head until her retirement in 2011. Ellen has an MAT from Yale University.

Panos Haztiandreas

Board Vice President

Panos, an Ethiopian American, has years of experience as a consultant in project management, organizational change and transition management. He is currently a tenured psychology faculty at Cascadia Community College. He holds Master’s degrees from California State University Long Beach Alliant International University.

Niomi Fisseha

Board Secretary

Niomi, an Ethiopian American, is an attorney with Campiche Blue Arnold, PLLC. She has a BA from Washington State University and a JD from DePaul University College of Law.

Daniel Tarekegn

Board Treasurer

Daniel, an Ethiopian American, is a Senior Product Manager at Amazon. He has a B.S. from UCLA and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

Bee G. Lim

Finance Professional

Bee has over 15 years of experience in finance, focusing on research and investment management. She grew up in Malaysia and has lived in Hong Kong and the US. She has a B.A. from Yale University.

Deborah Agrin

Deb has experience in international education program development, nonprofit management, and strategic planning. Her current work at Vittana helps to bring microloans to students in developing countries. She has a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. from New York University, and an MBA from U.C. Berkeley.

Dr. Neal Sobania

Neal has been involved with Ethiopia for nearly forty years, first as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer and now as scholar. He is the Executive Director of the Wang Center for Intl Programs and Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University. He has a B.A. from Hope College, an M.A from Ohio University, and a Ph.D.from the University of London.

Deanna Petersen

Deanna leads Weber Shandwick’s Social Impact work in Sub-Saharan Africa and helps direct communications efforts for the Gates Foundation’s Global Health and Development Programs. She has a B.A. from the University of St. Thomas and an M.A. from the University of Natal in South Africa.

  • not pictured are two recent additions to the Board: Bruce Lamb and Nancy Belcher

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June 2012:

Head of School hired

January 2013:

School site secured

Student recruitment begins

Faculty recruitment begins

April 2013:

Preparatory Program launches on April 24

Q3 2013:

Summer Program: July 1 - August 9

September 2013:

Official School opening7 2013 ilae initiatives

Contact Information

International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia

Ethiopia Office:

Hope University College, Addis Ababa, EthiopiaSeattle Office:PO Box 20034, Seattle, WA 98102 USA

Telephone: 206-682-2125

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A Vision for the Future

Ethiopia is the home of our most ancient history as humans. The discovery of the skeleton "Lucy" in 1974 near Hadar has given us one of the oldest and most complete hominids…

Issue Areas Include

  • Education


  • 748 Boylston Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98102, United States

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