Mukhtar Ibrahim, a Somali immigrant who moved to Minnesota at age 17 and later reported for Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune, will step down from his leadership positions at Sahan Journal, the online news journal he co-founded less than five years ago brought great success to life.
In a written statement from Sahan, Ibrahim attributed the decision to leave the nonprofit news organization in part to the recent birth of his fourth child. He said Sahan, which operates without a paywall or subscription requirement, has achieved strong financial stability and a healthy organizational culture.
“My family situation has changed since I founded Sahan in 2019,” wrote Ibrahim, 35, a former Bush Foundation fellow who served as the digital newsmagazine’s founder, editor, executive director and chief fundraiser.
“I have four small children and have lectured on nonprofit journalism in other places around the country,” Ibrahim said in a telephone interview Sunday evening. “We are one of the largest newsrooms in Minnesota. I never thought it would reach this level. We win news awards in competitions in which larger organizations can also take part. And with someone who doesn’t have as many external commitments, the organization will do even better.”
Based out of a coworking space in downtown St. Paul, Sahan was founded to chronicle the experiences of immigrant and communities of color in Minnesota. Ibrahim quickly grew Sahan – which takes its name from the Somali word for “pioneer” – from a solo operation to a team of 20 employees, including seven business administration staff, with an annual budget of $2.5 million. After the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis in 2020, Sahan attracted additional attention from philanthropic foundations and the public and developed shared content partnerships with Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune.
The COVID pandemic also presented an opportunity to collaborate with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota on sponsored health content and to look into publishing content in multiple languages, including a newsletter aimed at a growing community of refugees from Afghanistan in the Middle East West directed.
The announcement of Ibrahim’s departure, made by Editorial Director Chao Xiong and Chief Growth Officer Michael Tortorello, suggested that Sahan is “poised to have an even greater impact on Minnesota’s news ecosystem” by expanding his community engagement events, “a central part his mission”. to forge deep connections with its communities.” It also plans to expand its coverage and reach beyond the Twin Cities metro area by “investing in new and existing platforms to meet the diverse needs of younger news audiences.”
Since its inception, Sahan has raised $7.4 million from donors and raised nearly $2 million through advertising and individual donations. Ibrahim said he plans to remain in office until Sahan’s nonprofit board selects his successor with the help of a recruiting firm and then complete his master’s degree in business administration at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, after which he also hopes to use his skills in an advisory role and use in mission-oriented organizations.