A groundbreaking candidate and public servant fighting for Minnesota families
Ilhan Omar is a groundbreaking candidate and public servant who ran for Congress to fight for Minnesota working families. When she was a young girl, Ilhan’s family escaped civil war in Somalia, spent several years in a refugee camp in Kenya, and eventually moved to the United States when Ilhan was 12 years old. She learned English by watching American television shows, and after living in Virginia for a little over two years, her family settled in Minnesota. After graduating from college, Ilhan became politically active, working for state legislative campaigns and as a senior policy aide to a Minneapolis city councilmember. She then served as the director of policy and initiatives at Women Organizing Women, helping to empower East African women to pursue civic leadership opportunities in their communities. Ilhan was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016, making history as the first Muslim refugee and first Somali American Muslim woman in elected office in the United States. Prior to her election, she served as assistant minority leader in the chamber, and she has received the Rising Star Award from the DFL Women’s Hall of Fame. Ilhan lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three children.
A champion for equality and opportunity
Ilhan is a champion for her community and believes everyone should have an equal opportunity to succeed. In the state House, she advocated for policies that help working families, such as paid sick leave and increased funding for public schools, and authored legislation to protect residential renters’ rights. She is a champion for expanded economic opportunity for Minnesotans. “We must build a democratic economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few,” she has said. Ilhan wants to reduce the economic burdens that working families face, and will work to make health care, housing, and higher education more affordable and accessible. “I have proven myself to be someone who shows up, takes on the hard fight and delivers,” she has said.
An historic victory
Ilhan ran a successful grassroots campaign for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. Our country had never before elected a Muslim woman to Congress until Ilhan became one of the first with her historic victory. “I know what it feels like to be a young family looking for opportunity in the United States,” she has said, “I am excited to go and be a voice for the voiceless at the Capitol.” The EMILY’s List community is proud to support this groundbreaking champion for Minnesota working families.