Portrait Project


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Alpha Mengistu

Make a home where I am, and make others feel at home. Growing up Ethiopian in America I was suspended between realities. An outsider in suburbia, yet an unmistakable American on visits to Ethiopia, I felt at home nowhere. Almost.

Sitting in my grandmother's Ethiopian restaurant after preschool every day I remember watching students and recent immigrants temporarily satisfy their yearning for home. Swinging my feet from a bar stool that dwarfed me, I took in the sense of comfort and belonging ladled on their plates right next to the aromatic wot and shiro. The easy familiarity strangers had with one another within those walls, I now know, is rare and beautiful.

That sense of home will follow me like the sun overhead as I travel the world to grow companies in new frontiers. With every new business challenge I will enable people to connect and better understand one another. By linking a wide group of friends across continents, or facilitating a diverse team working toward the same goal, I will forge unexpected bonds and communities that provide relief from the strain of isolation and displacement.

The extended arm of companionship and the flash of recognition between strangers was the figurative food that nourished my grandmother's guests. I am here to give the same. And the beauty is, in providing that connection to others I am finally at home. Anywhere and everywhere.

— Alpha Mengistu