Home / The Champion of Change Semhar Araia, Founder, DAWN


Semhar Araia was born in New York to Eritrean immigrants. When she was 14 years old she visited her parents’ home country: “this experience shaped my understanding of Africa at an intimate level,” she says of the opportunity. At 34, Araia is the founder and executive director of Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN), an organization based in Washington that focuses on the next generation of the African diaspora’s female leaders.

After living in Washington D.C for ten years Araia quit her job in 2011 as a U.S Foreign Policy Analyst to focus her attention on DAWN. She has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota ever since and is currently teaching a course entitled “Conflict and Peace in the Horn of Africa” at the University of Minnesota.
“I’ve learned that it is not all about work, but about balancing your personal and professional lives,” Araia said. In April, she was honored by the White House as the 2012 Champion of Change. She is also the African Union’s Diaspora Awardee of the Year.
In founding DAWN, Araia believes that “when you put a woman in a position of authority, they are most likely to work, encourage, and benefit an unwavering community with an interest in giving back,” she says. With a transnational goal, DAWN has over 200 members from four continents who are committed to leading, networking, and providing job opportunities for women of African descent. With an extensive background in conflict resolution, international development, and diaspora engagement, Araia hopes to build bridges and send messages of unity and partnership throughout the diaspora. “If you want to make changes, you have to tell people what it looks like,” she said. “If you believe, it will resonate.”
Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN) is a global membership-based organization whose mission is to develop and support the next generation of African diaspora women leaders focused on African affairs.  DAWN seeks to empower and amplify the contributions of African diaspora women in Africa’s growth, security, and prosperity.
Join DAWN on November 1st, as it celebrates six years of leadership, impact, and discovery. During this two hour cocktail reception, you will have the opportunity to network with DAWN members as well as mingle with DAWN’s mentors and supporters.
Become a Member or  Attend the 6th Annual Leadership Awards http://dawners.wildapricot.org/join