A conversation with Hamse Warfa, soon Biden's highest-ranking Somali appointee

A man poses for a portrait outside of an office facility.
Hamse Warfa, the highest-ranking African immigrant in the Minnesota state government, currently serves as the Deputy Commissioner for Workforce Development at the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal file

Just over one year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the strength of democracy at home and abroad is a major conversation. A recent NPR poll that found 64 percent of Americans believe U.S. democracy is "in crisis and at risk of failing.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has a new initiative to bolster democracy at home and abroad. And they’ve tapped a Minnesotan to work on it.

Hamse Warfa is deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. He is the highest-ranking Somali-born person in the state executive branch.

Or he was — because now he is leaving to serve as a senior adviser in Biden’s Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal. He will be the highest-ranking Somali appointee in the administration and the only Somali adviser in the State Department.

Warfa joined host Cathy Wurzer to talk about his story and the importance of strengthening democracy around the world.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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