Zenebe Abebe, executive director for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Great Lakes in Goshen, Ind., announced to the Board of Directors that he plans to retire effective July 31, 2016. This will mark five years for Abebe serving in this role.
Abebe was named executive director and assumed leadership in April 2011. He led the Great Lakes region through transitions that occurred as a result of organizational changes and assumed some administrative tasks formerly performed by the MCC U.S. office. Abebe was instrumental in the process of MCC Great Lakes becoming incorporated.
“The board is deeply grateful for Zenebe's service to the broader church through his leadership at MCC Great Lakes," said Milton Borntrager, chair of the MCC Great Lakes Board. "MCC's relationships with church conferences, church leaders and individual donors have deepened under Zenebe’s leadership, thus making it possible to expand programming and contribute more for MCC’s work in relief, development and peace across the globe.”
He continued, “We appreciate Zenebe's attention to diversity through his broad network of friends and acquaintances to whom he tells the stories of MCC and relates its mission."
Abebe was the fifth executive director for MCC Great Lakes since its inception as a regional MCC entity in 1982. In addition to implementing shared international programming with MCC U.S and MCC Canada, MCC Great Lakes implements six programs: Sharing With Appalachia People (SWAP), Summer Service Program, Chicago programming, Peace and Justice, International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) and material resources.
According to Abebe, his five years at MCC Great Lakes have been an incredible professional experience. "We are blessed by individuals and churches supporting MCC in our region,” said Abebe. “The Great Lakes region is in great financial shape, and the staff in place are able and committed to the mission of MCC. I'm very grateful for this special MCC experience.”
Abebe’s history with MCC goes back to his childhood. Growing up in Ethiopia, he was the recipient of an MCC school kit and attended Mennonite grade school and high school. He graduated from Hesston College and Goshen College and went on to earn his master’s from Northern Illinois University and his doctorate from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Prior to assuming his role at MCC Great Lakes, Abebe held positions at various institutions of higher education for 30 years including Dean of Student Life, Vice President for Multicultural Education, Vice President for Equality and Inclusion and psychology professor.
Abebe is a member of Shalom Mennonite Church in Indianapolis, Ind. He is married to Barbara Abebe, and they have two adult children and two grandchildren.
According to Borntrager, a selection committee will be formalized in early 2016 to select a new executive director.