With nearly twenty years of experience, Semhar Araia is a recognized practitioner, organizer and thought leader on diaspora engagement, African affairs, women’s leadership and international development. Her mission-driven lens and approach has helped amplify diaspora contributions through national and global discourse on diaspora identities, next generation leadership and the role of diaspora communities in global development.
Ms. Araia is the Managing Director for Diaspora & Multicultural Partnerships at UNICEF USA, where she is responsible for developing and leading the organization’s overall partnerships strategy with diaspora individuals, organizations and communities in the United States in support of UNICEF’s mission.
She is also the founder of DAWN, the Diaspora African Women’s Network, a global network whose mission is to support and help develop the next generation of African diaspora professional women focused on African affairs. Prior to UNICEF USA, she served as a technical advisor to communities, governments, international organizations, and non-profit organizations, including the African Union and the United Nations, on diaspora engagement. Ms. Araia began her career as an attorney for the implementation of the 2000 Eritrea-Ethiopia peace agreement, and later served as a policy advisor at Oxfam International, The Elders, and the United States House of Representatives.
Ms. Araia has been recognized for her work by President Barack Obama, and is 2012 White House Champion of Change for her leadership in mobilizing next generation women leaders and diaspora communities.
She is also an African Union Diaspora Awardee of the Year, an OkayAfrica Top100 Women awardee and was listed in Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Women on Twitter list. Ms. Araia has been featured in theFinancial Times, BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Root, Africa54, AfroElle, Ventures Africa and other media outlets. She received her juris doctor from Marquette University Law School and her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Economics from the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Ms. Araia was born in New York City to Eritrean immigrant parents and resides in New York City.
We are proud of her achievement and we name her Most Influential 100 Class of 2018 Humanitarian and Religious category.