After three years leading Gov. Walz’s efforts in providing resources and training to Minnesota workers and businesses as deputy commissioner in the state’s economic development agency, Hamse Warfa announced his departure Monday following his appointment by President Biden to serve as a senior adviser in the U.S. State Department.
Since 2019 when he was appointed to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) by Gov. Walz, Warfa has been the highest-ranking official in the executive branch of government born in Africa. He was a volunteer on Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as an economic policy committee member.
Speaking to Mshale after the announcement from the governor’s office, Warfa said he will be relocating to Washington in about two weeks.
In his new role as senior adviser at the State Department, Warfa will focus on civilian security, democracy and human rights. Originally from Somalia where he fled the civil war, Warfa said his lived experience under authoritarianism as a child “taught me things could get worse quite rapidly.”
As deputy commissioner at DEED, Warfa is credited with advocating for the largest job bill in state history and providing workforce training to more youth and adults. His boss, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove, in a statement described Warfa as an extraordinary leader under whose leadership “new workforce training programs were established to support African immigrants, increase Black workers in Tech and provide free online training open to all Minnesotan adults during the height of the pandemic.”
In a joint statement Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan described Warfa’s work in their administration as “transformational” and expressed gratitude for his service to the state and “his commitment to building an equitable economy that works for everyone.”
The two went on to say that “he approaches his work with a clear mission to ensure that the most impacted individuals and communities are centered in decision-making.”
Commissioner Grove signaled that Warfa’s work and legacy will continue to benefit the state.
“He brought true passion to his work, and I know he’ll bring that same heart to Washington as he fights for democracy around the world,” Grove said in his statement.