Dessie (Roni) Akale to Serve as ENP’s New Director-General

Dessie (Roni) Akale has been appointed the new Director-General of the Ethiopian National Project, commencing his tenure on April 1st, 2011. He will replace Dr. Nigist Mengesha, who has led ENP since 2003.

Like thousands of others who endured the hardships of aliyah during Operation Moses, Roni crossed Ethiopia by foot, walking 800 kilometers, then waited in Sudan until finally reaching Jerusalem in December 1983 at the age of 20.

Roni obtained a BA in Social Work from Haifa University in 1990, and later went on to obtain an MA in Management and Public Policy Administration from Ben Gurion University. He holds additional training experience in the realms of educational leadership and non-profit management.

Roni served as a Mental Health officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He played a critical role during Operation Solomon in May 1991, applying his personal and professional experience to assist the newcomers during this historical airlift in which 14,325 Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in 36 hours.

Roni brings rich professional experience to the role of Director-General. He was Manager of the nation-wide network of “moked klitah” service centers for immigrants on behalf of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, overseeing 21 cities and towns. He served as a family social worker in the municipality of Ashdod, and was the Director of Ethiopian Job Placement and Counseling with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. In addition, he has carried out a wide variety of volunteer roles and has served in myriad leadership positions in his rich career of aiding the Ethiopian-Israeli community with his expertise, including being elected as Chairman of the Representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Organizations in Israel, serving between 2008 to 2010.

Roni, 47, will conclude his post as the Chief Executive Officer of FIDEL Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, which he has held since 2007, to assume this new role.

Roni lives in Ashdod, is married and father of four sons.

Roni: “There is critical work that must be carried out to ensure the success of Ethiopian Jews in Israel. ENP has just scratched the surface- it must reach thousands more to make the transformative impact it was designed- by Federations- to make. Together we can carry out this task.”

About the Ethiopian National Project

A unique partnership between the Jewish Federations of North America, the Government of Israel, representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Community Organizations, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and Keren Hayesod-UIA, ENP unites those dedicated to advancing the Ethiopian-Israeli community, adopting the following strategies:

* Empowerment: A grassroots effort on a national scale, ENP involves the Ethiopian-Israeli community at every stage of the creation, implementation and evaluation of ENP’s programs.

* A holistic approach: ENP programs take a “bigger picture” of the cultural, social and emotional challenges faced by Ethiopian-Israeli teenagers that hinder their academic success.

* Meeting unmet needs: ENP carries out an extensive mapping of existing programs and services to ensure that ENP programs are filling an unmet, critical need.

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