Selam & hello! 

Thank you for checking out Up/Root! My name is Lilly Bekele-Piper and I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, moved to the United States at the age of one and have been in Nairobi, Kenya for eight years. My parents raised us on injera (thanks, Ima!) and the courageous stories of our people that have always inspired and challenged me. My roots, my heroes - are my parents, Solomon and Atalfim. We moved all around the US when I was young: North Dakota (frostbite! snow! more frostbite!), Illinois (da Bears!), Indiana (nothing to say here), Kansas (tornadoes are real) and eventually South Carolina (complicated!) where I lived for over a decade. I studied Communications at Wake Forest University (BA) and Higher Education at Harvard University (Ed.M.) My fly hubby Ben and I have been married for 20years and have four (yes, 4!) incredible kids: Selah, Solomon, Silas and Saron. I have been back "home" in East Africa for the last twelve years working in development for some of the world's largest humanitarian organizations. All of my experiences have left an indelible mark on my identity and I am proud to be an immigrant, a Black woman, a part of the Ethiopian diaspora and an American. I feel eternally blessed to call so many places "home." After all, "you have to keep at it until it becomes rooted." (Thanks, Auntie Wangari!) You can read more about my Nairobi life in this feature on Design Mom.