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Kahin of Afro Deli and Jaylani Hussein to serve on Minnesota governor-elect transition advisory board


Friday, November 30, 2018
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Abdirahman Kahin, whose Afro Deli business won Business of the Year at last month’s African Awards Gala is among those selected by Minnesota Governor-elect Tim Walz to serve on his transition board that will “provide counsel and advice.”

According to the governor-elect, in a statement sent to Mshale, the board will help him fill important roles in his new administration, shape the state’s budget priorities for the next year, and provide diverse knowledge and experiences in facing Minnesota’s biggest challenges.

Kahin, a native of Djibouti, is also joined on the board by another prominent Africa-born person, Jaylani Hussein, a native of Somalia. Hussein leads the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The 30-person board is led by the lieutenant governor-elect Penny Flanagan and consists of a cross-section of Minnesotans. Flanagan made history during the midterms by being the first Native American woman elected to statewide office in Minnesota.

“I am excited to announce an outstanding group of people to serve on the One Minnesota Transition Advisory Board,” said Flanagan. “From civil rights advocates to business owners to tribal leaders to Greater Minnesota mayors, our team worked intentionally to bring together a diverse group of people to share their expertise as we lay the groundwork for our administration. Together, we will cast a wide net across the state to ensure we truly run state government as One Minnesota.”

“Made up of people from all different backgrounds, this advisory board is One Minnesota in action,” said Walz. “We believe all those affected by policy should have a seat at the table, and this is our very first time pulling out the chairs. We thank these passionate Minnesotans for lending their time and talents to the people of our great state.”

One of the main objectives for the board will be to identify individuals to fill 22 agency commissioner positions. The commissioners are in charge of leading the various state agencies.  Those interested will need to submit their applications by December 7. The Walz administration will take office on January 7.

Additionally, the board will also give guidance on budget and policy priorities. The new Walz administration plans to unveil a $50 billion two-year budget when it takes office.

The appointment of Kahin and Hussein to the board is acknowledgment of the growing political and business influence of the African immigrant community, especially those from Somalia. During the November midterms, the Somali community doubled their number at the Minnesota House of Representatives from one to two. Mohamud Noor easily won the seat formerly occupied by Ilhan Omar to keep that seat within the community, while Hodan Hassan prevailed at House District 62A. Ilhan Omar moved on to even bigger things by becoming the first Africa-born black to be elected to the US Congress when she won Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District.

Here is the full board of the advisory board announced by governor-elect Walz:

  • Abdirahman Kahin, owner of Afro Deli
  • Armando Camacho, President and CEO of Opportunity Partners
  • Ben Schierer, Mayor of Fergus Falls
  • Bharti Wahi, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-MN
  • Bo-Thao Urabe, Executive and Network Director at the Council on Asian American Leaders
  • Carl Crawford, Human Rights Officer at the City of Duluth
  • Carly Melin, Executive Director of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council and former State Representative
  • Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Dave Durenberger, former U.S. Senator
  • David Nicholson, Executive Director at the Headwaters Foundation for Justice
  • Denise Specht, President of Education Minnesota
  • Eric Sannerud, CEO of Mighty Axe Hops
  • Harold Wolle, past President and current Board member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association
  • Javier Morrillo, President of SEIU Local 26
  • Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR-MN
  • Jeff Ettinger, Chairman of the Hormel Foundation
  • Kathleen Annette, M.D., President and CEO of the Blandin Foundation
  • Marcia Zimmerman, Senior Rabbi at Temple Israel
  • Marvin Roger Anderson, CEO of  Rondo Commemorative Plaza and Chair of Reconnect Rondo
  • Michelle Behr, Chancellor of the University of Minnesota Morris
  • Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota
  • President Shelley Buck, Prairie Island Indian Community
  • Rassoul Dastmozd, President/CEO of Saint Paul College
  • Senta Leff, Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless
  • Stella Whitney-West, CEO of North Point Health & Wellness Center
  • Tawanna Black, CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion
  • Tim Mackey, President of the Laborers District Council
  • Tom McLaughlin, former Legislative Chairman for the Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars, a retired Blue Earth County Commissioner, and Marine Combat veteran
  • Tony Sertich, President of the Northland Foundation

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About Tom Gitaa

Tom is the President and Publisher of Mshale. As the founder, he did a lot of the reporting during the humble beginnings of the newspaper. While he still does the occasional reporting, he now concentrates on the publishing side of the news operation.Tom was also the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dishnetwork satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states such as the president of  The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at State House, Banjul. Tom has previously served in the board of directors of the Minnesota International Center (MIC), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has also previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa. He sits on the board of the United Nations Association.

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