I imagine getting a degree in Sustainable Development at Columbia could provide a few insights into running a multinational non-profit agency... Yes, it really does. I'm able to make connections with my fellow students who are interested and understand the needs for similar programs. Also, I just met with Jeffry Sachs [Director of Earth Institute at Columbia] who does a lot of development work in Africa. And I'm able to use my experience in Africa first-hand in classrooms. So many different professors have provided me with advice and network relationships that have helped. It goes on and on.
How do you like New York City? I love New York City, but I miss a lot of my friends in Dallas. New York is so dynamic and it provides a lot of inspiration. It has everything you're looking for.
What brings you back to Dallas for your fundraiser next week? I love Bolsa and their whole concept of sustainability and using local growers. When I'm in town it's one of my favorite places to visit. And Royce Ring is on our board of directors and the entire program got incorporated in Dallas, so it's important to me to maintain that connection.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in Dallas? I love Mi Cocina, and actually, Dallas made me a steak eater. I wasn't one before, but after living there I love having a steak from time to time and go to Al Biernat's on occasion. I love Village Burger and Chocolate Secrets. There are also a couple Ethiopian restaurants there I really like: Lalibela and Queen of Sheba.
When you think of your childhood, what food comes to mind? Ethiopian food is comprised of different kinds of stews with chicken, beef, lamb, vegetables and a soft spongy bread called injera. When I think of my childhood, I think of the food my mom used to cook for us. For breakfast my favorite was genfo and kinche, which are like porridge and oatmeal. For lunch and dinner I like shiro, which is a mashed pea stew, misir, lentil stew and gomen, cabbage. For holidays my favorite was doro wat, a spicy chicken stew.