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Sahan Journal publishes deep, reported news for and with immigrants and communities of color—the kind of stories you won’t find anywhere else.
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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.
Dawn Flinsch is the managing director of development and operations at Sahan Journal. Her career has focused on equitable access to essential services and elevating cultural and emotional enrichment for all Minnesotans. She joined Sahan in 2021 following a six-year campaign with MPR | APM which launched verticals focused on water, mental health, early child brain development, an investigative journalism unit, and co-working space for media disruption and innovation. She supported capital campaigns for Open Book, a center dedicated to book and literary arts, and the Cesar Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library on Nicollet Mall. Dawn is a big fan of hot yoga, smart memoirs, and her Gemini twins.
Michael Tortorello is the editorial director of 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—though rarely the beautiful homes and stately gardens of the glossy shelter press.
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; teenagers who film their bedrooms.
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.
Sally Waterman is Sahan Journal’s director of advertising and sponsorship. 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. 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 in March 2021.
Aala Abdullahi is the innovation editor at Sahan Journal, where she leads the newsroom’s community engagement efforts. An Al Jazeera and CBC alum, her passion lies most in using concrete data and audience insights to make strong editorial decisions, and producing ambitious, visual-first, interactive stories that put readers at the center of the story.
Alfonzo Galvan is a reporter for Sahan Journal, covering work, labor, small business, and entrepreneurship. Before joining Sahan Journal, he covered breaking news and immigrant communities in South Dakota, specifically highlighting the challenges experienced by people in the criminal justice system. Alfonzo is fluent in Spanish and has experience working in radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. He is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Alfonzo is a first-generation Mexican American.
Andrew Hazzard is a staff reporter with Sahan Journal who focuses on climate change and environmental justice issues. After starting his career in daily newspapers in Mississippi and North Dakota, Andrew returned to Minneapolis where he worked for local publications such as Southwest Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Andrew enjoys travel, speaks Spanish, and is a depressed supporter of Minnesota’s professional sports teams. He and his wife live in Minneapolis.
Becky Z. Dernbach
Becky Z. Dernbach is the education reporter for Sahan Journal. Becky graduated from Carleton College in 2008, just in time for the economy to crash. She worked many jobs before going into journalism, including substitute teaching in the Minneapolis Public Schools and community organizing. She earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism in 2019 and worked as an editorial fellow for Mother Jones before joining Sahan Journal in June 2020 through Report for America.
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.
Hannah Ihekoronye is a digital producer at Sahan Journal. She helps connect people with Sahan Journal by distributing its news on the website and social media and assisting with community engagement and newsletter production. Before joining Sahan, Hannah was the digital content strategist at Pillsbury United Communities. Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal and corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. She’s a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism where she received a M.S. degree in journalism as part of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism program. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Appeal, and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. She holds a B.A. in journalism from UW–Madison.
Jaida Grey Eagle
Jaida Grey Eagle is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe originally from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. She is a photojournalist, producer, beadwork artist, and writer. She is a member of the Women’s Photograph, Indigenous Photograph, and 400 Years Project.
She is a third-year corp member for Report for America with the Sahan Journal covering communities of color in the Twin Cities. She holds her Bachelor of Fine Arts emphasizing Fine Art Photography from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Joey Peters is a reporter for Sahan Journal. He has been a journalist for 15 years. Before joining Sahan Journal, he worked for close to a decade in New Mexico, where his reporting prompted the resignation of the Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent and a successful public records lawsuit against the governor. His work has also appeared Reuters, Public Radio International, Columbia Journalism Review, City Pages, MinnPost and more.
Katelyn Vue is a reporter at Sahan Journal.
Samantha HoangLong is the audience growth manager at Sahan Journal. In her role, she leads innovative digital strategies to expand the nonprofit newsroom’s reach to Minnesota’s diverse communities. Her work is dedicated to telling under-told stories in creative and accessible ways. A lifelong Minnesotan, she got her start as a news content editor at FOX 9 KMSP-TV after graduating from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul in fall of 2020.
Mara Jezior manages and helps build Sahan Journal’s growing community of individual donors. Prior to joining Sahan Journal in January 2022, Mara spent four years at the Institute of Nonprofit News, a national journalism association that supports nonprofit newsrooms across North America. Before that, she held marketing and development internships at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and MinnPost. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently working on her master’s in counseling psychology at the University of St. Thomas.
Mayuri Utturkar is Sahan Journal’s operations manager. Mayuri supports our dedicated staff with internal policies rooted in our values of equity and inclusion. Mayuri is excited to witness our reporters develop stories amplifying immigrant and BIPOC voices in the Twin Cities. She is also writing her doctoral dissertation on collaborative approaches to organizational development. When she’s not working, you’ll find her exploring parks and trails with her daughter and her dog.
Nicole Rauner is the sales and marketing associate at Sahan Journal. As part of the sales and advertising team, Nicole works directly with advertisers to place banners and sponsored content on Sahan Journal. Before joining Sahan, Nicole worked as a marketing associate for various local, small companies in the Twin Cities. She’s also volunteered with TEDxMinneapolis, American Heart Walk, Polar Plunge and more. While Nicole has exclusively worked in marketing, she also has a bachelor’s of journalism from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.