“I believe women and minorities often wait for permission to be invited to something; we need to stop doing that.”

Ilhan Omar is a 37 year old Somalian immigrant who represents Minnesota’s 5th district in the House of Representatives. She is both the first naturalized African Immigrant, and first non-white woman from Minnesota, to serve in The House of Representatives. Growing up in an area with a lot of political turmoil, Omar had to overcome many obstacles to get where she is today, including the many obstacles that come with being an immigrant in the United States. She represents the undeniable fact that women from any background can succeed and become large public figures.

Nationality: Somali-American

Industry: Political

Q: Your father died this year. This is something you touch on in your book, but tell me about the influence he had on your political thinking?

A: “My father was instrumental in anchoring me in the reality of the skin I was born in, the gender I was born in, the religion I was born in, the country I was born in and the cultural context in which I was born — and to have an alertness to what representative democracy meant and the power it could hold in creating positive change for people. He and my grandfather had an acute understanding of the benefits of that, because they were people who got a taste of democracy and lost it. They looked for it in different parts of the world and understood there was uniqueness in the way representation was set up in our Constitution. And that, if done right, ours can be the greatest form of democracy.” New York Times