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Shaping Tomorrow

Since graduating from Ohio Northern’s Pettit College of Law, Mekdes Mezgebu Medhane, LLM ’08, has worked as the program officer in the United Nations Development Programme, based at the Ethiopian Office of Ombudsman. She also is the program and international relations advisor to the chief ombudsman.

This year, Mekdes was one of 72 outstanding young leaders from 44 countries selected to participate as part of the Global Shapers Community during the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

These “global shapers” shared their views with global leaders and helped them to “think younger” as they discussed the new models needed to transform economies and societies in the face of current challenges. With more than 120 hubs set up across the globe, the Community seeks to identify and create a network of young emerging leaders, all outstanding individuals between the ages of 20 and 30.

“We were not just invited to attend the meeting,” said Mekdes. “We were given peer status and were directly involved as panelists.”

Mekdes took part in a panel titled “Leadership Legacies: What Drives Leaders to Create a Legacy that Benefits Society?" She spoke on what leadership means to her, particularly from the African perspective, and the importance of values and role models, such as Kwame Nkuruma and Nelson Mandela, in tackling the most pressing issues of our time – poverty, inequality, discrimination, human trafficking and others.

Participants in the panel were Noble Prize-winner professor Muhammed Yunus; Dean Nitin Nohria of the Harvard Business School; Paul Poleman, CEO of Unilever; and professor Nancy Kohen, also of the Harvard Business School.

“I felt very privileged to have been selected,” said Mekdes. “When I returned home, I felt more inspired and empowered to do something as a result of this amazing experience.”

In addition to her professional duties with the Office of Ombudsman, Mekdes volunteers for a local non-governmental organization (NGO), working on the documentation and research of grave human rights atrocities in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Her other interests are human rights, governance and public administration, history, politics and socio-economic issues.