Dr. Menna Demessie

Dr. Menna Demessie is the Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. She leads the foundation’s research and policy initiatives that affect African Americans and the global black community in areas including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, voting and environmental sustainability, among many others. In her capacity, Dr. Demessie has spearheaded several partnerships with the White House, Congress, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and other nonprofit stakeholders to advance strategic efforts to influence and inform public policy. Prior to joining the CBCF, Dr. Demessie was one of five scholars in the United States to receive the prestigious American Political Science Congressional Fellowship. For the fellowship, she joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s team to work on federal unemployment legislation, antipoverty initiatives, and foreign affairs.

She is the founder and co-managing editor of CBCF’s Journal of the Center for Policy Analysis and Research, a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal on public policy issues related to black politics in the United States and abroad. Dr. Demessie is also the founder of the CBCF’s first editorial board, an initiative she facilitated in honor of Dr. Ronald Walter’s legacy of advancing and engaging scholarship in the overall mission of the CBCF.

In Benin, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, she has also worked on democratic governance, economic opportunity, and gender equality, and traveled to Kenya as an election observer in August 2017. IN 2016, District of Columbia Mayo Muriel Bowser recognized Dr. Demessie with the Community Advocacy Award for her successful efforts to help secure funding from the DC City Council for the District’s African communities. Additionally, in her capacity as Interim Chair for the Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED), she advocates for the significance of youth civic engagement, community service, and academic excellence. Dr. Demessie has interviewed with National Public Radio (NPR), Voice of America (VOA), and other media outlets.

In August of 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, appointed her to the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Advisory Council, a global initiative to empower the diaspora and others to raise funds for development in Ethiopia. Dr. Demessie serves as secretary and with her colleagues, have raised $4 million dollars from over 20,000 donors in 77 countries as of May 2019.

She received her joint Ph.D. in political science and public policy from the University of Michigan where she conducted the first and only empirical and qualitative study of African congressional caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the significance of the Congressional Black Caucus’ influence on U.S.-Africa foreign policy. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Law and Society with honors from Oberlin College.