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Mukhtar M. Ibrahim

Mukhtar Ibrahim is the founding publisher and CEO of Sahan Journal. 

He previously worked as a staff writer for the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News. He has also written for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed News and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Mukhtar is among the first of his generation’s professional, accomplished journalists of Somali background in Minnesota and in the country. His leadership has been recognized with many awards and accomplishments and is sought-after speaker and panelist at leading institutions, organizations and conferences around the United States.

He was a recipient of the prestigious leadership fellowship from the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation (2016), a “Great Immigrant” award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (2019), Islamic Resource Group’s “Building Bridges Award in Media” (2019),Twin Cities Business Magazine’s 100 People to Know (2020), and “Above the Fold” award, which honors alumni of the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication under the age of 40 who have made exceptional contributions to their fields.

Mukhtar’s personal and professional distinction are accompanied by his large social media following, his ambition and strategic talents, his extremely wide and diverse networks and his standing as a thought leader in journalism.

He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and a graduate degree in investigative and data journalism from Columbia University.

Born in Somalia, Mukhtar spent his childhood in Ethiopia and Kenya and has lived his adult life in Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and three daughters.
Contact Mukhtar at 651.983.1550, or at editor@sahanjournal.com or on Twitter @mukhtaryare and follow him and other Sahan Journal staff reporters on Instagram.

Michael Tortorello

Michael Tortorello is a writer and the editorial director at Sahan Journal.

As a writer, Michael spent 10-odd years contributing to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, often writing about homes and gardens—although often not the beautiful homes and stately gardens of the glossy shelter press. Instead, he has reported home features about the science and culture involved in food gardening: for example, the retired gardener planting West African seeds on the land where her family had once been enslaved (and in the Louisiana town where a white riot ended Reconstruction).

Going indoors, Michael has written about the way people express their identity through their homes: young adults with autism; a self-governing community of previously unhoused people; parents overwhelmed by all the art their kids bring home from school, etc.

When curiosity has gotten the better of him, Michael has contributed science-driven reporting in short hits for NewYorker.com and longer features for Consumer Reports and Politico Magazine.

As an editor, Michael has helped lead coverage of local arts, food, and news at the alt-weekly City Pages and, later, at Minneapolis.St.Paul magazine.

Last: For twelve years, Michael moonlighted as an adjunct assistant professor in the English department at the University of Minnesota. There, he taught editing skills to students looking to find a future in publishing and journalism—or at least a deeper appreciation for the en dash.

Contact Michael at mtortorello@sahanjournal.com.

Dawn M. Flinsch

Dawn’s career has focused on reducing barriers to information, access to essential services, and cultural and emotional enrichment through Twin Cities nonprofits. She joined Sahan in 2021 after completing a six-year philanthropic campaign with Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media to launch content verticals focused on water, mental health, early child brain development, as well the award-winning journalism and innovation centers, APM Reports (In the Dark), APM Research Lab, and Glen Nelson Center. In addition to MPR/APM, Dawn coordinated efforts to generate more than $130 million for bricks-and-mortar campaigns including Open Book, a unique book and literary arts center; the Cesar Pelli–designed Minneapolis Central Library; and the Friends School of Minnesota. She has led annual and capital development, volunteer and board support, and major events planning for the Walker Art Center, non-profit publisher Milkweed Editions, Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library, and the Quaker-based Friends School of Minnesota.

Sally Waterman

Sally Waterman is Sahan Journal’s sales and sponsorship director. She has worked in radio and print sales and in digital sales since the early 2000s, at major Minnesota news organizations as well as early internet pioneers like AOL. In 2007, Sally helped launch MinnPost, one of the first nonprofit digital news organizations in the state and the nation. She built MinnPost’s sales and sponsorship department and grew its advertising and sponsorship revenue to six figures. Her work predates most of what we now recognize as the digital economy, and helped shape the nonprofit news ecosystem we now inhabit. Sally joined Sahan Journal as its first Director of Sales and Sponsorship in 2021.

Chao Xiong

Chao Xiong joined Sahan Journal as managing editor in March 2022. He previously spent 18 years reporting for the Star Tribune, where he covered general news, policing, and the courts. Chao is a first-generation Hmong American.

Hibah Ansari

Hibah Ansari is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She covers the impact federal and state policies have on immigrants and people of color in Minnesota. 

Hibah grew up in a small town in Wisconsin when her parents immigrated to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan, 30 years ago for better employment and educational opportunities. She attended the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in investigative reporting. Her return to the Midwest to work for Sahan Journal is a welcome change.  

Her return to the Midwest, especially Minnesota, holds special meaning for her. Hibah’s father, who passed away when she was young, started his American medical career in Minneapolis. Hibah says that she is honored to be in Minnesota beginning her career as a journalist, in his memory. 

Contact Hibah at hansari@sahanjournal.com or on Twitter and follow her and other Sahan Journal reporters on Instagram.  

Joey Peters

Joey Peters is a reporter for Sahan Journal who writes about health care: that is, how new Americans are affecting health care, and being affected by it.

Before joining Sahan Journal, he spent more than a decade in journalism including copy editing for the Minnesota Daily, reporting on policy for a publication in Washington D.C., investigative reporting for the Santa Fe Reporter and the New Mexico Political Report. He eventually returned to Saint Paul, where he was born, and landed at Sahan Journal. 

During these first years, Joey never failied to remember the reason he got into journalism; his love for nuanced, in-depth, shoe-leather reporting. While his focus for Sahan Journal is on health care, his attention also stays on holding power accountable so count on those stories too with Joey’s by-line.  

Contact Joey at 651-366-0810, or at jpeters@sahanjournal.com or on Twitter @JoeyPeters and follow him and other Sahan Journal reporters on Instagram.

Jaida Grey Eagle

Jaida Grey Eagle is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

She is from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and grew up in Red Wing, in southern Minnesota. She’s graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe where she studied photography. She has been a fellow with the Native American Journalist Association, First Peoples Fund and NATIVe Fellows program. 

According to Jaida, her interest and passion for photography has been raised by the inherent harm the medium has done to underrepresented communities, including her own. Her photography seeks to address and rectify those past wrongs by creating spaces of learning and understanding.  Her interest in journalism and storytelling led to co-producing a documentary about six Native American women which premiered at a film festival in Montana where she and her team were given honorable mention for their work.

Contact Jaida at jgreyeagle@sahanjournal.com or on Twitter @Jaida_GreyEagle and follow her and other Sahan Journal reporters on Instagram.

Becky Dernbach

Becky Dernbach is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She covers education for Sahan Journal.

Her love of journalism started at a young age, when she spent the summer in Nairobi, Kenya and became an avid reader of the local newspaper. She received her undergraduate degree from [a Minnesota college] and because jobs were tough to find, she served as a substitute teach in the local public schools teaching everything from third grade to high school Latin and Spanish. 

It was during this time that she realized she wanted to be a journalist, so enrolled in Northwest University’s Medill School a year ago and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism. From there she held a fellowship at Mother Jones magazine in California before returning to Minneapolis. 

Education is central to the journeys of many immigrant families, and Becky is looking forward to writing and reporting stories about immigrant communities in a time of protests and pandemic that might otherwise go unheard.

Contact Becky at bdernbach@sahanjournal.com and on Twitter at @bzosiad and follow her and other Sahan Journal reporters on Instagram.

Andrew Hazzard

Andrew Hazzard is a reporter for Sahan Journal who covers climate and the environment. He writes stories about how climate change is impacting Minnesota’s immigrants and communities of color, and how those people are interacting with the environment. His work often focuses on agriculture, environmental justice, energy efficiency, outdoor recreation, and pollution.  

Andrew grew up in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He covered education and wrote features for The Commercial Dispatch, a daily newspaper in Mississippi, and was a crime reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. In the Twin Cities, he worked for Southwest News Media, covering Shakopee and Scott County, and reported for the now-closed Southwest Journal in Minneapolis. 

Andrew is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. He speaks Spanish and enjoys learning about other cultures through explorations of food, language, and media. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife. 
Climate change is the defining issue of our time and Andrew is interested in talking with Minnesotans about how they are affected by the environment. Contact Andrew at ahazzard@sahanjournal.com.