After the Trump years the drought may finally be over. No long will Africa be dismissed as a “shithole”.

People of real quality and expertise are being appointed at a senior level.

So step forward Yohannes Abraham – an Ethiopian-American.

Needless to say, his loyalty will be to the Biden-Harris team and to the USA. But he certainly knows where Africa (and Ethiopia) is!

This is what the official Biden-Harris website says about his role: “Yohannes Abraham currently serves as the Executive Director of the Biden-Harris Transition, overseeing preparation for the implementation of Biden-Harris policy, personnel, and management priorities.”

Pretty impressive – and so is his background.

“He is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he lectures on management. During the Obama-Biden administration, Abraham served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council. He also worked as Chief of Staff of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, where his team partnered with cities, states, and other key stakeholders to manage crises and support domestic and national security policy priorities. Abraham also served as a Senior Advisor at the Obama Foundation. A native of Springfield, Virginia, Abraham holds a BA from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.”

So how did he get here?

This story from 2016 and the Obama years is rather appealing. It relates to Valerie Jarrett – who served as the senior advisor to President Obama. 

Yohannes Abraham was a new college graduate driving a top member of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign to visit churches on a snowy day in Des Moines when he got lost. Abraham was too embarrassed to tell his passenger. But after they passed the same gas station a third time, she spoke up. Maybe it was time to ask for directions, Valerie Jarrett politely suggested. Abraham had no idea that day in 2007 how close Jarrett, now a constant presence in the Oval Office, was to the future president. But he and Jarrett formed a connection then that continues: Now, he is her chief of staff at the White House.

Despite getting lost, Jarrett really rated the young Yohannes.

“We always asked Yohannes to take on our toughest, most important projects, and he always always exceeded our expectations,” said Jarrett. “That’s why it’s no surprise that President Obama asked him to help lay the groundwork for his foundation. I have no doubt Yohannes will tackle this with his characteristic intellect, work ethic, sound judgment, and commitment to excellence.”

Yohannes Abraham interviewed

Yohannes spoke to Tadias magazine in 2016. It is worth reading in full. Here’s an extract.