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Get to know… Omar Nur

"I had to work to support my family here and abroad."

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2020 Mayor's Medal of Honor recipient, Omar Nur. (Contributed photo)
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ROCHESTER — Local community leader, Omar Nur, is not content to just build a better life for himself and his family. He has much higher aspirations and leads an organization providing educational, recreational, cultural, health and lifelong learning opportunities for the local Somali community and addressing the most sensitive issues including youth drug use, violence and lack of proper education.

Are you originally from the Rochester area? If not, what led you here?

I am originally from Somalia. I came to the United States to pursue an education and a better life for my family. I learned from experience in Somali that the only way to succeed was to be educated and well-versed in the trades. I was 38 years old when I was given the opportunity to move to the United States. Upon arrival, I started working overnights and attended classes in the morning while caring for two young children.

What do you like best about Rochester?

I like the fact that we have the best hospital in the world just down the street. I also like the city, as it’s not too big or too small.


What changes do you think still need to be made?

Over time I want to see the city flourish with educators, researchers, and business through the DMC initiative.

What do you do for a career?

I am the Executive Director of the Somali American Social Service Association.

Why did you choose that for your career?

I have always aspired to educate myself and those around me. I wanted to be a resource for those who struggle with education, business and direction.

What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to enter your industry?

It takes a lot of observation and patience to fully understand the needs of the community.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what has been your greatest challenge you've had to overcome?

When I first came to the States, I had to work to support my family here and abroad. I also wanted to get an education, so I did both and it was a very difficult time. However, today I am reaping the benefits of my hard work.

While many of my peers were content to just work, I knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime that led me to become a trailblazer for the youth as I went back to school in my late 40s. Those long nights and early mornings led to me earning my master's degree.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I am a recipient of the Mayor's Medal of Honor Champion 2020 for Diversity.

I am a part of the following boards:

  • Rochester Chamber of Commerce (Board Member)
  • United Way Olmsted County (Board Member)
  • Family Service Rochester (Board Member)
  • RDA – Rochester Downtown Alliance (Board Member)
  • Rochester Public Library (Board Member)
  • Leadership Table for Cradle 2 Career (Member)
  • WSU-Rochester Advisory Group (Committee)
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