ECDC African Community Center

ACC assists refugee and immigrant families as they arrive in our community, helping them access new resources and networks needed to become independent. ACC supports an inclusive society by providing refugee resettlement, employment, training and youth development.

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Lisa MacClure, Development Coordinator
Start Date: 2014

Lisa started with ACC in 2014 after finishing her masters from the University of Colorado Denver. Lisa has worked in youth programs, employment services and now development for ACC and is truly dedicated to the organizational success.

Jared Allen, Resettlement Programs Manager
Start Date: 2016

Mr. Allen holds a Master's degree in International Administration with a concentration in Human Rights from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He has extensive experience working in a cross-cultural environment and has more than six years of experience educating and providing services to refugees in Denver. Mr. Allen oversees ACC's Resettlement Programs and has worked at ACC since 2011.

Grace Wright, Innovation Programs Manager
Start Date: 2018

Grace comes to ACC with her MBA and a background in teaching at the business school at CSU in Ft. Collins.

Melissa Theesen, Managing Director
Start Date: 2016

Melissa Theesen's experience with refugee resettlement and community organizations spans direct service to key leadership positions. She holds a master's degree in Nonprofit Management and a bachelor's degree in International Studies, Peace and Justice and Religion. She has professional experience across four continents and has been a member of several Boards of Directors for nonprofit organizations. Prior to her current role, she served as Executive Director of an international nongovernmental organization. Ms. Theesen has extensive experience in Asian, African, and Latin American communities. She has worked in Guatemala, Mexico, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, India, Nepal, and Cambodia, and spent extensive time working in East Africa. Her professional experience includes grant writing, leading fundraising campaigns, refugee resettlement, acting as a liaison for governmental programming transitions, social business development, volunteer management program development, managing individuals from multiple cultures, managing multiple stakeholder groups, and consulting with the United Nations.

Haregewoin Weledmariam, Finance Manager
Start Date:

Haregewoin Weledmariam is an immigrant from Ethiopia and received a grant of asylum in 2001. She has a degree in Accounting from University of Colorado and is a founding member of ACC. In addition, Ms. Weledmariam has more than 10 years of bookkeeping experience. She is a founding member of the African Community Center and serves as an ambassador to the Ethiopian community for our agency.

Michael Josten, Data Manager
Start Date: 2018

Michael comes back to ACC after a two year transfer to LFS to work on data and systems.

Mani Dahal, Sustainability Programs Manager
Start Date: 2014

Mr. Dahal is a refugee from Nepal, resettling through ACC in 2008. He received a Bachelor's degree in Art from Siliguri College in India. He worked as a financial administrator within the tourist industry for three years and as a teacher and social worker in a Nepal refugee camp. Before working with ACC, he was a paraprofessional at Place Bridge Academy, completing the training to fulfill that position. He has participated in case management, domestic violence, and TANF trainings, among others. Mr. Dahal has worked for ACC since 2010, serving as a case manager for several years and currently as the Sustainability Programs Manager. He is fluent in Nepali, Hindi, and Dzongkha.

Tsehaye Teferra, CEO/Executive Director
Start Date: 1983

Dr. Teferra is founder and president of the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), Inc. His leadership and vision have shaped ECDC from a start-up agency with an initial budget of less than $100,000 to a major community-based organization with an annual budget of over several million. ECDC now offers a wide range of cultural, economic, educational, and social services at the local and national levels through its headquarters operations and through ECDC African Community Center (ACC) branch offices in Denver, Colorado, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Arlington, Virginia.

While meeting the many challenges of running a multifaceted organization, Dr. Teferra is also active in civic, professional, and local community affairs. He frequently lectures locally and nationally on African issues and cross-cultural studies and has testified before Congress. He has served as Chair of the Resettlement Committee of Refugee Council USA and as a member of its Finance Committee; and Vice Chair and Chairman of the Virginia State Refugee Advisory Council.

A native of Ethiopia, Dr. Tsehaye Teferra received his undergraduate degree from Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa. He then earned an M.S. in Applied Linguistics and a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he also served as a Research Associate in the School of Languages and Linguistics. Dr. Teferra was an instructor at The Catholic University of America and the Foreign Service Institute and was an Assistant Professor in the African Studies and Research Center at Howard University. He served as a cross-cultural instructor in the Peace Corps' in-country training program and taught at several institutions of higher learning in Ethiopia before coming to the United States as a UNESCO Fellow in 1972.

Recognition and Awards
• Selected as a White House Champion of Change in 2012.
• Received the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago's Pioneer Award for Leadership, Advocacy and Networking in October 2009.
• Honored in May 2008 by the Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) for his many years of public service to Ethiopian and Africans in Diaspora.
• Honored by Bank of America in 2006 with a Local Hero Award of Excellence for contributions as president of ECDC and the Enterprise Development Group through support to low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs.
• Honored by the City Council of the City of Los Angeles in 2005 with an Award of Appreciation for his contributions to improving the lives of refugee and immigrant newcomers to the United States.
• Recognized in 1991by former President George H.W. Bush for outstanding record of community service.
• Recognized in 1991 for outstanding contributions to the country by then Ambassador at Large and U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs Jewel Lafontant-Mankarious.

Allene F Wright , Senior Vice President
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Allene oversees ECDC's Ethnic and Preferred Communities (PC) Programs. She is also engaged in development activities, human resources, and works with ECDC's branch offices. Ms. Wright recieved a B.A. in German from Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indianna, and did graduate work at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She has been with ECDC since 1986.


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