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Khotso Khabele

Letsie James “Khotso” Khabele

April 20, 1974 – May 16, 2020

The world suffered a profound loss when beloved educator, entrepreneur, and thought leader, Letsie James “Khotso” Khabele, CEO and Co-Founder of Ko in Austin, Texas passed away at the age of 46.

"Living each moment in Learn Work Play for the Mind Body Soul in Purpose in Service for Others Together"

When Khotso was one year old, his family moved from his birthplace of Abraka, Nigeria, to their new home in Roma, the campus of the National University of Lesotho. They eventually moved to Maseru, the capital where he attended Maseru English Medium Preparatory School. At eleven, he became a boarding student at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, and was a Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Beau. He returned home to Lesotho during summer breaks and hung out on the high school campus of Machabeng (Many Nations) College until their holiday began.

Khotso earned his B.A. in economics from The University of Texas at Austin, his B.A. at Fielding Graduate University’s Human and Organizational Systems and his M.B.A. through Harvard Business School’s Alternative M.B.A. Program for Leadership Development. In 2001, he and his former wife Moya co-founded The Khabele School (now Headwaters), a preschool through high school with four campuses. After the Khabele School, Khotso co-founded with Michael Strong, the middle and high school KoSchool.

Khotso also served as the CEO for Trails.by, an e-learning software company that helps schools map their curriculum and display student work online. He spoke frequently in the worldwide education community, including TEDx and SXSW:Edu events and was named Community Leader of the Year by the CCAACC (Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce). He served as co-chair along with his sister Inonge, of the Austin-Maseru Sister Cities Committee of Sister Cities International. As a coach, trainer and visionary, Khotso believed whatever you focus on, expands. He traveled the world several times, developed amazing relationships, and inspired people to live their dreams. His civic-mindedness, love of community, entrepreneurship, and passion for education drove him to seek new ways to make life better for all.

Khotso enjoyed walking the dog, tennis, riding bikes, wake surfing, skiing, camping, hiking and horseback riding. The natural world made his heart sing. He loved education, teaching and coaching. He loved the creative arts equally and was a phenomenal chef and host. His greatest love was building community: bringing people together and teaching them how to love themselves was his most essential and cherished work.

Khotso had a beautiful, profoundly loving bond with his three children Naledi (18), Tau (15) and Letsie (10). Though he traveled frequently, he was 100% there for them and made sure they were engaged in enriching activities. They hiked and did sports and played games together. They took walks and talked philosophy. He showered them with affection and lovingly and sternly guided them building the resilience they needed for challenging times. They are grateful. Khotso was the ultimate Malome (Mother’s Brother) of Sotho tradition, and his nieces and nephews called him by no other name. He was so proud of each and every one.

We want the courage to live by his example. We could not have asked for more and are eternally grateful for the gift of his life. We strive to honor his memory by loving ourselves better and allowing our actions to align. May he Rest in Peace and may we embrace him again on the other side.

Tributes to Khotso