The move follows Sylvia Rhone's departure as head of the label, formerly called Universal Motown, in June. Rhone is widely expected to assume a post under former UMG chief Doug Morris at Sony, possibly running a revived Portrait Records.
Habtemariam will be based in New York City and Los Angeles, and report directly to Weiss. She will be a "key creative executive for Motown Records," according to the announcement.
"Ethiopia represents the new breed of today's best creative music executives," Weiss said in a statement. "In the studio at night and in the office during the day, she is artist and song focused. There is no one more relevant and credible in the creative community to help us build upon Motown's fantastic legacy and move the company into its next groundbreaking era."
"It is an extraordinary opportunity to call Motown home," Habtemariam said, "and I am grateful to Barry for giving me the honor and challenge to put a new creative stamp on a label that has such a rich history. I am truly excited to work at the label that cultivated the musicians who have inspired me over the years. Motown artists created the soundtrack to my life, and I can't wait to develop acts that not only have cross-genre and cross-generational appeal, but can reach worldwide notoriety."
Motown's roster of artists will include such chart-toppers as Stevie Wonder, Babyface and Chrisette Michele, as well as the newly signed Luke James (in conjunction with Mercury Records), among many others, the release says.
Since joining UMPG in 2003, Habtemariam has signed a formidable list of talent that includes Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Ciara, Keri Hilson, Polow Da Don, Esther Dean, Ari Levine (Smeezingtons), J Cole, Brian Kennedy Seals and Hit Boy.