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  1. The Elevation of Tex-Mex
    Mico Rodriguez
  2. The Bounty of the Barnett Shale
    Kelcy Warren
  3. The Entrepreneurial Woman
    Tomima Edmark
  4. The Growth of the Vietnamese Community
    Jennifer Nguyen
  5. The Founding of Uptown
    Phil Cobb
  6. The Changing Face of Politics
    Craig Watkins
  7. The Brain Gain
    Dr. Hao Zhu
  8. The Four Sport Town
    Mike Modano
  9. The Underground Culture
    Katherine Owens
  10. The Catholic Migration
    Father Ivan Asencio
  11. The Organized South Asian Community
    John Hammond
  12. The Next Way to Develop
    Jeff Blackard
  13. The Allure of the Silicon Prairie
    Anousheh Ansari
  14. The lighting of Reunion Tower
    George Schrader
  15. The New Old Tradition
    Jennifer Moreno
  16. The Test Kitchen
    Mariel Street
  17. The Art Magnet
    Kevin Moriarty
  18. The Glamorous Return of Dallas Shopping
    Brian Bolke
  19. The Strengthening of the Gay Community
    Jack Evans and George Harris
  20. The Resurgence of Downtown Dallas
    Art Ortiz
  21. The Megachurch Boom
    Ed Young
  22. The Fundraisers
    Lynn McBee
  23. The Refuge
    Pedro Amaya
  24. The Reason Dallas Took Off
    Ron Barzyk
  25. The Girl Who Stayed Home
    Erykah Badu
  26. The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings
    Virginia McAlester
  27. The Thriving Ethiopian Community
    Birhan Mekonnen
  28. The New Dallas ISD
    Jessica Leija
  29. The Rebirth of the Trinity River
    Peter Payton
  30. The Trains Start Running
    Ladrika Davis Gross
  31. The Architect of an Art Scene
    Stephen Lapthisophon
  32. The Calculator That Changed the World
    Vonnie Howard
  33. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Deep Ellum
    Frank Campagna
  34. The Big Move
    Kendra Norwood
  35. The Expanding Empire in Fort worth
    Scott Hernandez
  36. The Family Recipe
    Chuy Cruz
  37. The Transformation of Oak Cliff
    David Spence
  38. The Now-Legal Immigrant
    Jesus Castillo Carrizales
  39. The City of Philanthropists
    Lyda Hill
  40. The Transplants
    Tara Vornkahl
00 The Thriving Ethiopian Community Tuesday, June 10, at 6:48pm at his home in Heath

Birhan Mekonnen

Birhan “Mac” Mekonnen is standing on his balcony, surveying acres of land, reflecting on what he’s built. The balcony rests just below the most unique architectural feature of his home in Heath—a dome modeled after Fasil Castle in Gondar, Ethiopia. Gondar is Mekonnen’s hometown, the hometown he fled in 1977, three years after war erupted.

Along with his future wife, the 18-year-old walked for days, finding refuge in Sudan, where their first child would be born. The young family of three relocated to North Dakota 18 months later, where Mekonnen’s sponsors suggested he seek employment at a grocery store. He refused and went on to receive a degree in electrical engineering. And with that, the Mekonnens set out again, this time to Dallas, where a network of relatives and friends was rapidly developing. That was 28 years ago.

Today, an estimated 35,000 Ethiopians call North Texas home. One of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in Dallas, they’ve gravitated
toward Rowlett, Wylie, and Garland, where the Ethiopian community association that Mekonnen heads hopes to build a community center. “It was designed to bring Ethiopians together and keep the tradition and culture,” Mekonnen says of the association, “to teach our children, making sure they know their roots.” 

Mekonnen himself relishes those roots. Although he is proud to be a U.S. citizen, he calls his journey here “forced immigration” and he was determined to bring part of Ethiopia with him. His home is decorated with art from his wife’s frequent trips back to Ethiopia. But the part of his country he is most determined to hold onto is not something he can put on his walls. Self-reliance, he says, is what most encapsulates his community—and Mekonnen is a perfect example. After moving to Texas, he enrolled in a management program and bought a Domino’s Pizza franchise in Paris, Texas, turning it from one of the worst-performing stores to one of the best. Today, he owns 23 Domino’s locations in Texas.

“For Ethiopians, we get a job, we get an education,” he says. “It is a culture. We are proud of supporting ourselves and supporting others.” 

  • Berhanemarcos Tadesse

    Indeed it is fact about Ethiopians. Birhan (Mac) has put it to the right perspective. He has come a long way even since I know him here in Dallas. Great job and super contributions for those who you love including your country as well as this blessed country the United States of America. Recite this no matter you think. It the place where you have your rights better than your own motherland. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Mr. Chairman of the Ethiopian Community and the 23 Donino’s Pizza owner. GOOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND THE BEST ENDEAVOR TO COME. BMT, Garland, TX.

  • Almaz Woldeab

    Proud of you brother

  • Ragini Ganguly

    Wow !! well done. Congratulations for your achievements to a very adorable couple. You will be an inspiration to so many.

  • Dessalegn

    As Mr Berhan is a proven success in the entrepreneurial area , he has also displayed his capability as a community organizer. He is a proven leader to me.