Yemi Getachew (1966-2022), Founder
On November 6, 2022, our founder, Yemi Getachew, passed away surrounded by her family. Yemi is survived by her mother, Mrs. Teruworq Haile, her brother Danny, her daughter Adey Nash, and countless extended family and friends. Her associate and business partner, Attorney Medya Ansari, will continue Yemi’s legacy through her law practice, Yemi Getachew Immigration Law Office, P.C.
Yemi radiated kindness, love, never-ending humor, and compassion. She will be missed as a friend, a counselor, a mentor, a brilliant legal mind, and an all-around amazing human being. To know her was to know light, kindness, and laughter.
Yemi Getachew was born on June 2, 1966, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1982, Yemi enrolled at Addis Ababa University (AAU) to study law. Her experiences at AAU would have a lasting and profound impact on her. As the only notable institution of higher education in the country at the time, the University was a true melting pot. Her experiences at AAU ignited and nurtured her outsized compassion and caring for others, which were her trademark until the very end. She graduated from law school in 1987 and practiced law in Addis for two years.
In 1989 Yemi emigrated to the United States and settled in Novato, California. Like many of the people whose lives she would later help transform, Yemi started working as a babysitter but within months, was hired as a legal assistant and then as a paralegal in San Francisco.
Yemi’s Professional Legacy in the Immigration World
After passing the California Bar Exam, Yemi founded our law firm in San Jose, CA, which has been serving the immigrant community for the past twenty-five-plus years. She built our strong and renowned immigration law practice that has changed thousands of lives. Yemi specialized in asylum and was a fierce advocate for her clients, and our law firm is dedicated to continuing her path and legacy.
Yemi also attended and graduated from Western Seminary, a Christian seminary school, with a Masters in Marriage Family Therapy (MA-MFT) and became a licensed counselor. She provided her services to a local women’s shelter, teaching as an Adjunct Professor at the Western Seminary (Apr 2013 – April 2015) and presided over the matrimony of several couples. Bringing folks together and bringing out the best of them was one of Yemi’s many superpowers. She was friendly, and welcoming and knew how to make people instantaneously comfortable so it made sense that after the 2016 presidential elections, she took the reins of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) Santa Clara Valley Chapter in 2017 and increased its members’ participation exponentially. She was the Chair of AILA Santa Clara Valley in 2017. As a Chair, she wrote a weekly email to the membership that summarized that week’s legal happenings and offered comfort, support, and hope to the chapter members. Yemi continuously mobilized members, so many of us did more pro bono work, attended protests, met congressional representatives and senators, and kept the public informed about the ever-changing immigration landscape.
Yemi faced every challenge with a smile, a positive attitude, and seemingly endless humor. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, she continued to support the AILA SCV community. In 2020, when USCIS, Immigration Courts, and Embassies were completely shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Yemi joined forces with two other Ethiopian immigration lawyers to update the public, especially the Ethiopian community, about current immigration events via live streams presentations they named “A Moment for Immigration.” Yemi approached her battle with cancer with vigor and humor. She took to Facebook to relay the agonizing details, the trials and small triumphs with naked honesty and truth but also with courage, strength, faith, and wit. Yes, cancer was powerful, but Yemi proved to be a worthy, valiant, graceful, and humorous combatant who gave it her all.
In Loving Memory
Yemi lived life well and to its fullest. Her infectious enthusiasm for life and all its beauty, her love and kindness to people can be measured by the many lives she touched. It is also measured by her plentiful good deeds and the innumerable lives she has positively impacted throughout her many years both as a lawyer and faith leader. She helped many immigrants and saved many lives. She continued to fight for immigrant rights, and our office will continue this with compassion and excellence.
- Santa Clara Valley American Immigration Lawyers Association, Chair, 2017 to 2018
- Santa Clara Valley American Immigration Lawyers Association, Executive Committee
- Addis Ababa University
- Cara Pro Bono Project, Veteran
- AILA National Volunteer Clinic, Volunteer
- Asian Law Alliance, Removal Defense, Consultant
Classes / Seminars
- Mentor, Removal Defense, Asian Law Alliance
- Adjunct Professor, Legal and Ethical Issues, Western Seminary