Rahel Desalegne

Position title: 4W Co-Director of 4W-YALI Circle

Email: desalegne@wisc.edu

Rahel Desalegne is an Adjunct Professor in the College of Engineering, a Professional Engineer as well as a Certified Traffic Operations Engineer with a focus on transportation engineering, planning, and safety. She has transportation engineering experience in Wisconsin and in the Washington D.C. area, as well as her home country of Ethiopia. As a road safety advocate, entrepreneur, and educator, Rahel has been involved in successful business start-ups, including the establishment of an after-school learning center for students from pre-K through high school. She also founded her own nonprofit, Safe Roads for Health, which connects colleagues, policymakers, engineers, and other professionals in Wisconsin, the US, and Ethiopia, to create and implement safe transportation systems and policy guidelines.

Rahel is a co-director of the UW-Madison 4W-YALI Circle, a network of young leaders from UW’s Mandela Washington Fellowship, aimed to foster gender equity and wellbeing and provide peer mentorship and leadership development. Additionally, she is involved in the Madison Sister City Collaboration, an effort to support cultural, social, and educational exchanges with 9 cities around the world. Rahel is the lead representative for Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and has been instrumental in several business and health development projects, including providing expertise on the design of a new bridge in Bahir Dar that will support more than 600,000 citizens, as well as leading efforts to make Bahir Dar more bicycle friendly! Rahel has also led a delegation for the First Lady of Ethiopia, inviting her to Madison and WI to meet with colleagues, health professionals, and policymakers to explore opportunities for improving nutrition, dairy development, and women empowerment.

Since arriving in the United States from Ethiopia 27 years ago, she has dedicated herself to improving safety for others in her home, her community, and her engineering profession, and has fostered cross-cultural exchanges that have both educational and humanitarian benefits.

Affiliations: UW-Madison Civil and Environmental Engineering