MINNEAPOLIS - Minneapolis' first Somali-American school board member has died.
"I join the rest of the Minneapolis Public Schools community in mourning the loss of Director Hussein Samatar," said Dr. Bernadeia Johnson, superintendent of schools, in a news release. "Hussein was a passionate leader, a committed public servant, a dedicated collaborator and a valued friend."
Board Chair Alberto Monserrate said Samatar, 45, will be profoundly missed by his colleagues on the school board, as well as the many community members whose lives he touched.
"His genuine commitment to all children and families of Minneapolis, especially those in new American communities, was visible in all that he did," Monserrate said in a news release. "He truly led by example and embodied the values he held dear. My fellow board directors and I send our deepest sympathies to Director Samatar's family at this difficult time."
Samatar, who won a seat on the school board in 2010, was the first Somali-American to hold any public office in Minnesota.
Samatar announced on Facebook in March that he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He had reportedly been considering a run for mayor, prior to the diagnosis.
He first entered public office when Mayor R.T. Rybak appointed him to the Minneapolis Library Board of Trustees in 2006. In a statement, Rybak said one of his greatest pleasures as mayor was getting to know Samatar.
"He has been an extraordinary leader and a real friend," Rybak said in a news release. "I am heartsick about losing him, but I will look for solace in knowing how many people he helped."
Samatar was the Founder and Executive Director of the African Development Center, an entrepreneurial nonprofit organization that works within the African communities in Minnesota to start and sustain businesses, build wealth and promote community reinvestment.
Prior to his leadership with the African Development Center, Samatar worked as a commercial banker with Wells Fargo and Norwest Banks.
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