Hussein Samatar’s appointment broadens Library Board capacity


Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s appointment of Somali businessman Hussein Samatar to the Minneapolis Library Board of Trustees makes Samatar is one of the highest-ranking Somali public officials in the nation. “Appointing Hussein to the Library Board is about bringing new voices to lead our libraries into the future, especially voices from our growing immigrant communities,” Rybak said. “Hussein has shown incredible leadership helping many entrepreneurs get their start and will bring excellent business and financial planning experience to our libraries.”

Samatar brought his passion for books, information and resources to a recent taping of “Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum.” Holding up Nellie Stone Johnson: The Life of an Activist by David Bauer, he acknowledged that Johnson was the first elected Black person in Minneapolis and that she was elected to the library board. He quoted a statement from her book dated June 12, 1945: “To have books and education are the greatest forces in bringing about an understanding of all human relationships and in providing equality and opportunity.” Samatar continued, “Mrs. Johnson was an activist, business owner, and an elected official. There is a history of Black folks . . . doing fantastic things for this state.”

Samatar is the executive director of the African Development Center (ADC), which works with African communities to start businesses and promote community reinvestment. “After working for Wells Fargo for eight years, I decided that I wanted to be in community development. There was no African institution that really helped African immigrants and refugees,” he said. The ADC offers business development counseling, homeownership training and financial literacy. “In the long-term, it’s about home ownership and wealth building,” said Samatar. “The bottom line is not about how much money you have personally or the education [you have], but how much you can be within the community you are from. At the end of the day, the manifestation is how much you can help someone to uplift him or herself. My [duty] is to share my knowledge base so we can all do well in this state.”

Samatar has an MBA in Financial Management from the University of St. Thomas and completed a one-year policy fellowship at the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum. Samatar was one of the Business Journal’s 2002 ”Forty Under 40” and he currently serves on the boards of the Home Ownership Center, the Citizen’s League and the Advisory Committee of the Payne-Lake Community Partnership.

To contact Hussein Samatar, call (612) 333-4772 or email