Alemi Daba was born in Ethiopia in an Oromo tribal village. Girls did not go to school, but her contact with American missionaries enabled her to get an education. Because Alemi was Christian, she was tortured and imprisoned under the communist government, which also executed her husband and other members of her family. Alemi, with her two daughters, escaped and arrived in San Diego in 1988 as refugees. Soon after arriving, Alemi launched her energies toward adapting a new language and culture. She began to assist other refugees, and emerged as a leader of what is now a refugee community of 10,000.
She has also served as a "peacemaker" between refugee communities whose countries, in some cases, have been at war. Currently, Alemi serves as Director of Women and Children for the Alliance for African Assistance, helping refugees from around the world resettle in San Diego. Alemi spearheaded several new programs with the Alliance to improve access to healthcare and provide special services for senior citizens and is a spokeswoman for Refugee Women Hand-in-Hand.