About Us

Bonds of Union was developed by Alula Asfaw in 2016. After his work in the Obama Administration helping to think about the design of an AEPA-ED, Alula became singularly focused on the question of where breakthrough innovations come from to solve important challenges facing our communities and country? What was the institutional vehicle and the replicable process dedicated to addressing these challenges at scale.

Bonds of Union believed that higher education institutions represented the best institutional vehicle to realise this vision at scale. Before taking this early vision to a university, our team tested and refined the approach.

Our Bonds of Union team is unwavering in its commitment to increase opportunity and improve outcomes for all of Cincinnati’s young people. Through our efforts, we are determined to uplift our children, our families, and our neighbourhoods. We aim to create an intensive, holistic support system for our children and families, and we aspire to engage the entire Greater Cincinnati community in this mission.

Our Team

Bonds of Union is based in Cincinnati. Our team aims to carry out innovative initiatives that inspire hope and create opportunity.


Executive Director | Founder

Alula has dedicated his life to renewing hope and prosperity in marginalized communities in the U.S. Prior to founding Bonds of Union, Alula served as Director of Special Initiatives and Special Assistant in the Office of Innovation & Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. In this role, Alula helped to oversee the design and implementation of competitive programs such as the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) and Promise Neighborhoods, and closely advised the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Innovation & Improvement on matters of policy and R&D. Previously, he was the Founder and Executive Director of the UW Dream Project, a Seattle-based college access and retention program for low-income and first-generation high school students. Alula received a B.A. in English Literature and Political Science from the University of Washington, an MPhil in Politics, Development, and Democratic Education from the University of Cambridge, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.


Board Member | Economic Opportunity

Born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Kristen grew up keenly aware of the pernicious economic repercussions of racial injustice and committed to make a contribution to empower communities. Kristen works in Perkins Coie’s Seattle office as a law associate in the firm’s venture capital and private equity practice groups. She is a graduate of Howard University and more recently, Yale Law School and the Yale School of Management, where she earned a joint JD/MBA degree. Prior to the start of her legal career, Kristen worked for Senator Mary Landrieu (former D-LA) and consulted for an energy firm in Tianjin, China.

Join Our Team

Bonds of Union aspires to serve as the vehicle through which we, as a national community, join together to affirm the causes of opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. Today’s immense challenges require the sacrifice and intellectual energy of a new generation. In all that we do, Bonds of Union strives to renew our sense of civic activism and strengthen “the mystic chords of memory” that connect us to our larger, inherited purpose.

We are always looking for passionate and committed individuals to join our team in this effort.