Lightyear Ethiopia: Transformation, Education, and a Camel

Thanks to everyone who supported the Lightyear Leadership trainings throughout this past year. We are excited to share a glimpse of what we experienced with you!

In March of 2016, Lightyear Leadership (then igolu) created a vision.
With imagine1day, we partnered to create a vision of 300 community leaders within Ethiopian coming together as participants to experience the foundational Lightyear Leadership programs. We envisioned a team of North American Lightyear Leaders raising the funds to pay for these 300 participants to travel to three locations spanning Ethiopia and partake in a three and a half day training.
This vision became a reality!

18 North American Leaders
$184,000 USD Raised
18 imagine1day Ethiopian staff
344 Ethiopian participants
Countless lives were transformed


"I learned the power of committed speaking and authenticity. I discovered that my happiness is the most valuable resource I have. I experienced sustainable service and transformation."

- Nancy Perry, Lightyear Faculty and Owner of BIG yoga

Below is a brief sampling of what we experienced on the trip. 


Our team of 18 North American leaders arrived in Addis Ababa. We spent the day touring the capital and visiting the National Museum of Ethiopia where we saw the “Lucy” remains. We visited the bustling and life-filled Merkato and attended an art opening of acclaimed Ethiopian artist Desta Hagos, who is also the mother of one of our trip participants and members of the US Board of imagine1day, Feben Johannes.


We spent the day connecting and aligning as a team and with our Ethiopian Lightyear counterparts: Seid, Halefom, and Muktar at the Yaya Athletic Village on Mount Entoto. To get to know each other in a quick yet meaningful way, we created "paper Pecha Kuchas" of our ten top transformational leadership moments.


The three teams split up to travel to the different locations for each of the trainings.

Matt Hoglund and his team went by plane to Mek’ele in the Northern region of Tigray.

Mek'ele Team
front row: Mary Grace Rogers, Christine Waljeski, Rebecca Bligh, Crystal Beshears
back row: Matt Hoglund, Halefom Gezaei, Julien Dubois

Goba team.JPG

Nancy Perry and her team traveled 8 hours by car to Goba to the Southern part of the Oromia region.

Goba Team
Meghan Radde, Christina Polzin, Megan Vigus, Hunter Conrad, Nancy Perry, Molly Wengler

And Susanne Conrad and her team traveled a few hours by car to Adama in the north of the Oromia region.

Adama Team
Susanne Conrad, Sophie Allen, Mallory Littell, Marc Littell, Brett Conrad, Dr. Velinda Paranal


Each team led the same three and half day training covering the Lightyear Leadership foundational programs: Personal Legacy and Integrated Leadership.
In attendance were medium to top level government officials and other professionals including heads of all key bureaus in Tigray and Oromia. Directors from the Ministry of Education, directors from Public Service and Human Resource Development Ministry, CEOs of business organizations and charities, professors from universities and teacher colleges, district administrators and education bureau heads and Project Advisory Committee (PAC) members. Most of the bureau heads and district administrators lead organizations with over 100k people. For Instance, participant Dr. Bikila who is head of the Oromia Public Service and Human Resource Development Bureau, leads over 450,000 civil servants. 


The three teams travelled and met at the Goba Wabeshabale hotel where Nancy and her team completed their trainings. We pit stopped there for the evening and came together to celebrate our accomplishments.


"I experienced Ethiopian leaders who are inspired and committed to the future of their country. They see what is possible for their people and are ready to be a stand for the greatness of Ethiopia!"

- Molly Wengler, Moment LC


We then moved into the second part of the trip. Meeting up with Mary Anna Noveck and her team that raised $150,000 US to build a school with imagine1day in honor of her dear friend, Irma Lyons. We travelled from the early morning to the late afternoon to arrive in time for the inauguration and celebration of the school. We were met with hundreds of members of the local community to celebrate the new school. We danced, listened to speeches and gave speeches. WE were gifted A CAMEL and graciously donated it back to the local community.
For the next two nights we camped in tents near the beautiful new school that was built. We played games with the children of the village, danced at a bonfire each night with the villagers, and held a community meeting with the elders of the community where we shared about committed speaking and listening as a leader and the power of making clear requests and giving clear committed responses. 


"I learned that deep listening and self-discovery go beyond language and translation. I learned about new cultures and traditions. I learned a bigger definition of family and community in the small village of Filangur and I also learned how to milk a goat."

- Christine Waljeski, NIA Teacher


We travelled most of the day in our caravan of SUV’s to the Hara Langano Lodge. The lodge was situated on the bank of the breathtaking Lake Langano. 


We began the morning with a meeting about all the ways we can continue the momentum and partnership of Lightyear Leadership and imagine1day.
Once this was complete we began our trek back to Addis for our flights home.

"I experienced a new level of leadership. As I got bigger I saw how that allowed everyone around me to get bigger. And fun, lots and lots of fun!"

- Matt Hoglund, Lightyear Director of Connection & Experiences

Some of the exciting impacts that have already taken place since the trainings:

  • Trainees from Mek’ele were interviewed on the national news on how the trainings would support their leadership

  • The Ethiopian Ministry of Education decided to provide the trainings for all 40 directors at the ministry

  • The Tigray Head of the Regional Education Bureau requested Lightyear Leadership trainings for all 150 employees working for him

  • The Ethiopian Air Force requested the trainings be delivered to their middle level leadership