Biden chooses Somali American to join administration

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Biden chooses Somali American to join administration

WASHINGTON – Hamse Warfa, a senior Somali-American state government official, has been chosen to serve in the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced on Monday that Warfa was stepping down as deputy commissioner for workforce development to become a senior adviser at the US State Department.

Warfa said in an email that he “will help advance the president’s democracy and human rights agenda at home and abroad.”

“What I hope to achieve is to be an inclusive voice that helps us strengthen our vibrant democracy,” Warfa, a former refugee, told the Star Tribune.

The new role comes after Warfa volunteered for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as a member of the Economic Policy Committee, according to his LinkedIn profile.

When Warfa begins his new role later this month, he will join notable members of the administration with ties to Minnesota. Others include National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough and Thomas Nides, originally from Duluth, who is the US Ambassador to Israel.

Warfa said he was proud of his work for the state’s employment and economic development department, especially in response to the pandemic that plagued the state for nearly two years.

“Hamse and his DEED team have advocated for the economic well-being of all Minnesotans during the pandemic and focused on ensuring that workers and businesses have the resources and training necessary to survive and thrive,” he said. Governor Tim Walz said in a press release. “I am grateful for Hamse’s service to our state and his commitment to building a fair economy that works for everyone.”

Monday’s announcement also noted that Warfa’s 2019 DEED appointment made him “the highest-ranking U.S. Somali official in the executive branch of government.”

Warfa has “over 20 years of experience in economic development, community development, philanthropy, public policy and entrepreneurship,” according to his biography. Transforming difficulties into leadership has been a major focus of his work, said Warfa, describing himself “as a citizen of the world, an American in service to the world.”

“I feel incredibly honored,” Warfa said. “I have acquired a set of experiences in different sectors. My mission in life is to help build a fair economy and advance democracy.”

His new role also comes during a difficult time for American democracy, an issue Biden has focused on since being sworn in as president two weeks after last year’s violent insurgency on the U.S. Capitol. As he nears the start of his sophomore year in the White House, Biden continues to face a difficult partisan climate on Capitol Hill.

Last month, Biden hosted a world summit for democracy. Warfa stressed that the gathering had “created an important dialogue and initiated concrete action towards this global democratic renewal”.

“I truly consider it a privilege to serve America and to strengthen the special place that this place is because of democracy, and to extend the benefits of democracy to the world,” Warfa said.

Although Warfa anticipates challenges in his new job, he said he was excited about the opportunity. As he spoke about the post, Warfa recalled that his father would pray for him, “May you be of service to society.”

“I think that’s a way God guides me to serve,” Warfa said.

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