As a way to promote the incredible work our Host Organizations are doing and to spread word of the substantial impact Atlas Corps Fellows have on their teams, we are sharing a short feature on United Way Worldwide and their experience with Atlas Corps and their current Fellow Gashaye (Ethiopia, Class 29)

Host Organization: United Way Worldwide

United Way Worldwide improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. Communities benefit when a child succeeds in school, when someone finds a job that will help them provide for their family, or when more people are able to access quality, affordable health care. The solutions United Way Worldwide create for communities around the world go beyond short-term charity for a few.


Fellow: Gashaye Melaku (Ethiopia, Class 29)

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Gashaye Melaku

Hometown:  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Role at Organization: Operations Fellow

Social Issue/Interest Area: Youth and women empowerment, education, and human rights.

Fun fact: I am a song writer and I enjoy singing what I wrote.

What is your role at your Host Organization?

My role at United Way can be categorized under the three pillars of growth, impact and efficiency. Under growth, I support United Way´s expansion in Africa and the Caribbean by identifying new funding opportunities and establishing partnerships with corporate donors and foundations. I have also been leading the establishment of Africa Advisory Council, a group of high networth individuals to support resource mobilization efforts in Africa. 

How has your experience with your Host-Organization impacted your perspective? What has the organization taught you?

The biggest lesson that I learned at United Way is the possibility of working united for the common good in every community around the globe. Being placed at the world´s largest nonprofit with 1,800+ network members in 40+ countries, United Way taught me how to mobilize resources globally to impact lives on a local level. I have learned that uniting our efforts is no more an option but the only choice in the fast globalizing world where problems in one part of the world affect lives in the other.

How has your experience with your supervisor impacted your perspective? What has your supervisor taught you?

It is with confidence when I say my time with Wamite Muthara, my supervisor, has been a breakthrough in my professional journey. From day one, Wamite started shaping my perspectives by providing guidance and coaching. She taught me how to articulate my ideas, engage in targeted communication, and think strategically. Under her supervision, I adjusted myself in the new American work environment and started owning and executing my projects independently. Asking the tough questions and critical thinking are parts of the lessons I learned from her. After working with her and observing her actions, I have started thinking differently about my career path and future professional journey. I now have a clearer personal and professional vision, thanks to her coaching.


Fellow Supervisor: Wamite Muthara

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Wamite Muthara

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Role at Organization: Director, Lead Strategist, Digital Services

Social Issue/Interest Area: Race & Gender Equity, Youth Unemployment (especially in Africa)

Fun fact: I was the captain of my high school poms (dance) team.

Why did you decide to host an Atlas Corps Fellow?

There were a couple of matters that lead us to an Atlas Corps Fellow. Our team was small, and only getting smaller AND the focus of our work was evolving. We decided to focus more on building new external relationships and we didn’t know where that work would take useducation partnership, funding relationships, volunteer partners it could’ve been a number of things. So yes, we needed additional staff to help us handle all the work but it needed to be a more flexible option given our new approach.

Why did you choose your Fellow?

Gashaye has a strong background in research and fundraising, amongst his education accomplishments. In our interview, we were able to hear how he’s applied his knowledge and, most importantly, stepped up as a leader when there were gaps in his previous work. He was able to do exactly what we needed create new partnerships

How has your Fellow contributed to your team? How has his or her presence had an impact on your team’s dynamic?

Gashaye is a great critical thinker; we had a sense of this when we selected him. I believe this skill has become more fine-tuned as he’s grown in his responsibilities. We are involved in many different projects in different countries and he’s always keeping us on track. He helps us think through the strategy around each of our engagements so that we’re delivering great results.

How will your Fellow’s contributions and insights impact your organization in the long run?

Like most organizations, we’re constantly evolving our approach. For us, we’re creating new councils, starting new organizations and he has been with us as we discuss foundational elements of this work.

What has your Fellow taught you? Have you learned anything special about their culture?

My background is Kenyan, so we’ve had a lot of discussion about East African politics, which is always fun. Being around him and hearing his thoughts on the Ethiopia and Eritrea border opening was enlightening. In regards to the work, I’ve learned to be more creative about how I frame partnerships.

More about Atlas Corps:

Atlas Corps partners with mission-driven organizations (nonprofit, private, and government) to facilitate a professional exchange program for the world’s best emerging social change leaders to live and serve in the United States for a 12-month Fellowship. The Atlas Corps network currently includes more than 700 professionals from 94 countries who have served at 300 organizations.

Interested in becoming a Host Organization for an Atlas Corps Fellow? Contact Brittany Gropp at brittany@atlascorps.org.