Ilhan Omar

First elected Somali-American legislator and One of the First Two Muslim Women Elected to Congress

Omar, Ilhan 1.jpg

"Ilhan Omar is a Somali-American politician from Minnesota. In 2016, she was elected a Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, making her the first Somali-American Muslim legislator elected to office in the United States. She is the Director of Policy and Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network.


Ilhan Omar was born in 1982, in Mogadishu and was raised in Baydhabo, Somalia. She was the youngest of seven siblings, and grew up in an upper-middle-class household. Ilhan's father, Nur Omar Mohamed, is Somali, and worked as a teacher trainer. Her mother was Yemeni, and died when Omar was a child. She was thereafter raised by her father and grandfather. Ilhan's grandfather, Abukar, was the director of Somalia's National Marine Transport, with her uncles and aunts also working as civil servants and educators. After the start of the civil war in 1991, she and her family fled the country and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya.


In 1995, Omar and her family emigrated to the United States, initially settling in Arlington, Virginia. In 1995, they moved to Minneapolis, where Ilhan quickly learned English in only three months. Her father and grandfather inculcated in her the importance of democracy. She also began to accompany her grandfather to caucus meetings at the age of 14 years, serving as his interpreter.


Omar attended Edison High School, and volunteered there as a student organizer. After high school, she attended North Dakota State University, where she participated in the Muslim Student Association. She graduated with bachelor's degrees in political science and international studies. Omar is a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.


lhan Omar began her professional career as a Community Nutrition Educator with the University of Minnesota… In 2012, Omar served as the Campaign Manager for Kari Dziedzic's reelection campaign for Minnesota State Senate. Between 2012 and 2013, she was a Child Nutrition Outreach Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Education.


Omar later managed Andrew Johnson's municipal election campaign, as he ran for a municipal seat in Minneapolis' ward 12 in 2013. Following Johnson's election to the Minneapolis City Council, Omar served as the Senior Policy Aide in his office from 2013 to 2015…


As of September 2015, Omar is the Director of Policy & Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network. The association advocates for women from East Africa to take on civic and political leadership roles.


Omar's volunteer experience and areas of interest include politics, education, civil rights and social action, poverty alleviation, human rights, environmental issues, animal welfare, and economic empowerment. She supports a $15 per hour minimum wage. With regard to scholastic affordability, she advocates free tuition for students with a family income below $125,000 as well as greater accessibility to student loan forgiveness programs…


On August 9, 2016, Omar defeated Phyllis Kahn and Mohamud Noor in the DFL primary to become the nominee for the 2016 Minnesota House of Representatives election in district 60B. Shortly after she secured the DFL party nomination, the conservative blog Power Line questioned the legal status of her marriage vows and wedding license. According to her colleague Andrew Johnson, the timing of the story suggested that the motive was to diminish her image. Omar herself speculated that the allegations were planted by previously elected officials within her community and singled out Abdi Warsame, suggesting that he felt threatened by her growing political clout.


In November 2016, Omar won the general election, becoming the first Somali-American legislator in the United States. She officially began her term in the Minnesota House of Representatives on January 3, 2017.


As of September 2017, Rep. Omar has authored 25 bills and co-authored 166 bills. Rep. Omar is currently the Assistant Minority Leader.


In 2014, Omar was named a rising star in the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party's Women's Hall of Fame, She was also presented the 2015 Community Leadership Award at the African Awards by Mshale, an African immigrant media outlet based in Minneapolis. The prize is annually awarded on a readership basis.


Time Magazine named Omar among its "Firsts: Women who are changing the world", a special project on 46 women who have broken barriers in their respective disciplines, and featured her on the cover of its September 18 issue to mark the panel." (1)

From Wikipedia