Hamdi Mohamed made history last November when she became the first Somali woman elected to public office in Washington State and the first Black woman elected to the Port of Seattle Commission.
Before becoming a port commissioner, Mohamed graduated from the Law, Societies & Justice (LSJ) department at the University of Washington in 2015. She describes her time in the LSJ department as a transformative experience.
“I always felt like I was taught by professors at the cutting edge of their field and for me they really helped shape my political formation and helped me build a strong voice to become the leader that I am today,” Mohamed said.
Mohamed believes that her coursework and experiential learning opportunities in LSJ had the greatest impact on her. She enjoyed translating the curriculum she learned in the classroom and getting hands-on experience applying it to real life experiences.
“There was a real connection to real life experiences, and I loved that about the program,” Mohamed said.
Mohamed is passionate about advocacy, building up communities, service, and trying to leave the world a better place. LSJ helped her advance that goal by providing opportunities to give back to her community by working on redistricting, testifying at hearings, and speaking on issues in her community.
Her advice to current LSJ students is to “get out there, seek out opportunities, look for organizations that you are interested in and align with their mission and go for it.”
In her new role on the Seattle Port Commission, Mohamed is currently working on initiating a Career Launch Program which aims to provide higher quality jobs for young folks.
“I hope folks in our community take advantage of this program. It is a critical program ensuring that we are recovering from this pandemic equitably and that we are focusing on funding streams for youth jobs which support our local economic development here in our region.” Mohamed said.
This program would help increase the opportunity for BIPOC youth and business owners to learn about port industry jobs. Mohamed hopes to invest where the need is greatest and address the root causes of economic inequities.
To Mohamed, the most fulfilling aspect of her job is seeing the vision she created with her neighbors come to life.
“I have voted on things helping us invest more in our local small businesses, local tourism, local spending,” Mohamed said. “My goal is to really create and expand on opportunities that support our business community and workforce development programs in both aviation and maritime.”
Mohamed’s advice to young folks who want to run for office someday is to have a vision that aligns with their personal values and to have a good support system. She says there are many paths to spark change and that there’s never one way to make a positive impact in your community.