Aklilu Demessie receives honor from Ethiopia

Aklilu Demessie receives honor from Ethiopia
Washington DC
February 29, 2020

Mr. Aklilu Demessie received the highest award of the Solomonic Gift, the Knight Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Honor of Ethiopia on February 29th at the Victory of Adwa Dinner in Washington D.C. for his lifetime achievements in community services.

Aklilu Demessie being honored

Aklilu Demessie

As one of the select group of holders of the Knight Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Ethiopia, one of the most venerated decorations of the Solomonic gift, the recipient would be entitled to use the post-nominal initials GCSE and to be referred to as "Your Excellency". The honor is one of the highest Ethiopian rankings and conferred on him by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie.

Mr. Demessie is a U.S Citizen and a Board member and Vice President of the Menelik Foundation in Cleveland and an active member of the core group that has helped establish a Sister Cities agreement between the city of Cleveland and Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

In addition, Mr. Demessie is a member and Vice President of the board of the International Community Council and Worldwide International Network (ICC-WIN) of Cleveland Ohio in which 121 countries are represented. He has served as the President of the Northeast Ohio Ethiopian Community Association (NEOECA), President of the Ethiopian Cleveland Connection (ECC) in the 1990s. Mr. Demessie is one of the founding Board members of The Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) which gives scholarships to outstanding high school graduates and identifies future leaders and encourages good citizenship, community service to American born kids of Ethiopian heritage as well as honors and awards adults as role models to the students on the same stage, annually. Mr. Demessie is the 2009 SEED's Distinguished Service Award recipient for his community services and has served as secretary of SEED for the last 27 years.

Mr. Demessie has been involved in educational, cultural, humanitarian and other community services for over 45 years. The following are the summary of the various organizations Mr. Demessie played a leadership role in or participated as board member:

In the 1970's and 80s he visited inner city schools and black churches in the City of Cleveland to try to motivate kids to pursue higher education. In the early 80s, helped inform Clevelanders about the hunger situation in Ethiopia and how they could help.

NEOECA [Northeast Ohio Ethiopian Community Association]: President of the association from 1992-2014: The association provided support to newly arrived Ethiopian immigrant in the assimilation process in Cleveland and vicinity and socialization.

Celebrated cultural holidays together and introduced Ethiopian culture to America friends

Supported each other incase of need such as death, illness etc. Financial or otherwise

Sent Medical supplies in cooperation with the help of World Concern, a division of Christian Ministries, local American Physicians, Dr. Carl Robson and the late Dr. Dan Reynolds. Note: The medical supplies were exclusively sent on the first delivery of Boeing's B757 flight to Ethiopia.

ECC [Ethiopian Cleveland Connection]: President since 2007-2014: The group is comprised of 12 professionals (not very active currently), but accomplished great work in the last decade.

Collected used high school text book {from Shaker Heights High} and shipped them to Menelik II Secondary High School in Ethiopia

With the help of the then InterVol (now Medwish) of Cleveland, sent medical supplies to hospitals in Ethiopia.

The Goodrich Landing Gear (now Collins Aerospace, Landing Gear) donated 40 used computers and the ECC group sent the computers in Ethiopia to be used for network support at a Library at the Addis Ababa University.

Board member & Vice president of the Menelik Hall Foundation: Helped create Sister-Cities relationship between Cleveland, Ohio and Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

Group sent over 100 Kats, sheets and blankets to help Katharina Victims thru our volunteer member Prof. Cynthia Bell of CWRU.

Currently, The Ethiopian Community in Cleveland (under the Menelik foundation) has been given a plot of land at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The community is working hard to be represented as the first African Nation to have its won garden in the USA. The first Phase of the Ethiopian Cultural Garden was unveiled on August 24th, 2019 in the Presence of the Ethiopian Ambassador, Fitsum Arega, Local Government officials and others.

Helped as a big brother to three Ethiopian Students that were sponsored by local churches through Menelik Hall Foundation to complete their education at CCC.

International Community Council [ICC] from 1992-Present-Executive Board member: This organization consisted of 121 countries and showed the diversity of the city of Cleveland by bringing all nationalities under one organization.

Spoke to a number of inner city school children on the history, politics and culture of Ethiopia. Other members from other countries did the same.

Helped in inviting Ambassadors of different countries to come and establish cultural and business relationships in Cleveland. Also established educational relationships between CWRU and Bahir Dar University. In the meantime, introduced a number of local residents to different nationalities and cultures

Helped in the Children's Olympic in 2004 by bringing (2) Ethiopian High School students to participate in track and field. This was the first time Africans participated in the International Children's Olympics in the USA.

Current Board member and Vice President of ICC_WIN: International Community Council and Worldwide International Network: Collaboration with Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation: One world Day and International Folk Festival. Promote Diversity: Participated in Holiday Celebration of Diversity in December 2014 where there were fashion shows and variety of food from around the world and over 500 people enjoyed the event. See for more coverage.

Mr. Demessie believes in furthering volunteerism and community service. He is married and has (2) adult children, Menna Demessie, Ph.D., Nebyat Demessie, MHSA (both graduates of WRA) and his wife of 42 years, Zufan L. Demessie, RN, B.Acy.


Aklilu Demessie holds M.S in Engineering Mechanics and B.S in Civil Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to that he spent a year as an American Field Service, AFS scholar in the USA and graduated from Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Oho in 1971. He started his professional career at Cleveland Pneumatic Company as a Stress Analyst and progressed to Supervisory position in the Engineering Department over the years.

Mr. Demessie worked as a Senior Engineer/Group Leader at the former Goodrich Landing Gear (designer, manufacturer and supplier of aircraft landing gear and components-Military and Commercial). He has over 40 years of experience as a professional in this area. Currently, he is retired, but works part time at Collins Aerospace in the Landing Gear Division in Independence, Ohio.

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