Ribka Getachew, Human Justice Training Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.
— Audre Lorde

Ribka Getachew is Human Justice Training Coordinator with the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, an independent research, training and advocacy think tank that applies Human Justice to achieve public safety, racial equity, community investment, human development and well-being in society. Founded and developed by academic professionals with prior experience within the criminal punishment system, the organization is the first of its kind in the country.

Ribka Getachew was born in New York to parents who emigrated from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to the United States. Having grappled with questions of identity from a very early age, she was always curious and engaged with questions about justice and how people related to one another. The youngest of 4 children, she currently has 5 nieces and nephews (ranging from 6 months to 15 years old), which deeply informs how and why helping to create a world that honors their full humanity is a non-negotiable for her. 

She graduated from Columbia University with an undergraduate degree in African History and it was there, and during her time as a Domestic-Exchange student at Howard University, that she started more intentionally organizing on campus and in Harlem against the Prison Industrial Complex. It was then that she co-founded the Columbia chapter of Students Against Mass Incarceration, a Black radical student organization rooted in educating people about, while simultaneously disrupting and dismantling, the criminal punishment system and the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Ribka has spent time working at the Innocence Project, where she started working as a Paralegal for individuals who were convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. There, she conducted legal and factual case research, performed evidence searches and analyzed the factual background of cases using lab reports, prior motions/case files and police reports and prepared court related documents to be filed in Courts at all levels throughout the United States.

Her relationship to the Center for NuLeadership began in 2012, where she started conducting legal research, developing “New Yorkers for Health and Safety” campaign curriculum material, and helping to train future leaders to facilitate “Know Your Rights, Community Power” workshops. She currently serves as the Center’s Human Justice Training Coordinator, and it is in this capacity that she develops curriculum, coordinates the Human Justice Community Council, and works with various community stakeholders for the purposing of advancing goals for the Bed-Stuy Human Justice Initiative. Intimately connected and committed to personal and collective wellness, she also became an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach to work with her community members to help them achieve their health goals in order to fully express their potential for wellness. She approaches this in part from a food justice lens and was trained by the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Co. here in Bed-Stuy as a Community Chef. She brings this intention and work to the Center for NuLeadership as she works with her fellow staff members and youth participants to shift our culture to reflect one of deep healing that is rooted in indigenous ways of listening to body, mind & spirit. 

A prison abolitionist, Ribka genuinely believes that if we get creative, we can collectively conceive of a world beyond prisons, rooting our culture instead in radical healing and justice.