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Meet the United Way Team: Wonde Will Wow You

At United Way ATX we value and celebrate all voices. From Board members to donors to team members to partner organizations to the children and families we work with, we strive for inclusivity where everyone has a place at the table and their voices can be heard.

Today, we are excited to introduce you to one of our newest team members Wondemneh Pawlose. We would love to tell you a little bit about Wonde, but we think you’ll like it even better hearing from him. (You’ll love him as much as we do.)


I come from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I have seen the many faces of poverty growing up. People struggling to eat three meals every day, kids quitting school in order to financially contribute to their families, and sick people with the inability to seek medical treatment (where the clinic card itself costs more than their weekly budget) are realities lived by the few million residents of Addis Ababa.

If you had told me in 2011 that poverty is rooted deep in various American cities and their inhabitants, I would have told you
that you had lost your mind. 

2011 was the year I have migrated to America, and I had no idea about the wealth disparity that exists within many American cities like Austin, TX. In my defense, I was taught to consider America as a land of milk and honey… a place where there is no space for poverty (if one chooses to work hard). Therefore, it did come as a surprise when I learned about the amount of poverty that persists in America, especially for ethnic minority members of society. Cities are carved into sections that separate those economically struggling from those doing well. United Way ATX’s effort to bridge this gap and pave the way towards economic well-being for the financially disadvantaged Austinites made me want to be a part of this team that is dedicated, passionate, and quite brilliant.

I grew up wanting to contribute to the fight against poverty, especially to advocate for children that are born into poverty and die in it. I want to be involved in advocacy and diplomacy on a larger scale. United Way ATX supplements my vision by helping me gain the resources and skills at the local level that can be expanded to be used at a regional and/or global scale. United Way is helping me understand poverty and how it can be defeated with the collaboration of not only the public but also the private sector.


Q&A

1. How long have you lived in Austin?

I’ve lived in Austin for over 5 years. For the past 4 years, I was in school in Baltimore, but I have been coming in and out of Austin to visit family. I moved back to work at United Way just last week.

2. What do you love about the Austin community?

Austin has a vibrant community that is welcoming and warm. I’ve loved how easygoing of a city Austin is for someone who came from another country. From the first day, I stepped my foot in Austin to the various visits I’ve made after moving to Maryland, I’ve always considered Austin to be a city full of positive energy and people that just want to go about their daily lives in harmony with others.

3. Why do you want to work for United Way?

I have been passionate about nonprofit work, especially around education and children’s rights for a long time. Growing up in Ethiopia, I have seen various ways in which children that live in poor areas lack the necessary tools to live a comfortable and prosperous life. I work with United Way to expand my understanding of a local-focused work. I wish to contribute my unique perspective as well as fresh ideas to the various initiatives we do here at United Way to help elevate families from poverty.

4. What is a fun fact about you?

I consider myself to be a coffee snob and I have visited the town Kefa in Ethiopia where coffee was born.

5. Describe yourself in one gif.

trevor noah oscars GIF by The Academy Awards

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