Ismail and his family were forced to flee Somalia in the late 1990s as the civil war unfolded. They fled to Ethiopia and later to Kenya, pursuing his education while facing challenges as refugees in an unstable region.
Ismail’s mother believed moving to Columbus could enable a new start to life for their family. She stressed the importance of education to all of her children, sparking Ismail’s passion for it and the opportunities it afforded him. Ismail graduated from Northland High School, then went to the Ohio State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and later going back to earn his law degree.
Ismail then became one of the first Somali-born attorneys licensed to practice in Ohio.
Now an attorney in private practice, Ismail knows first-hand the struggles so many families face navigating the criminal justice system and serves his community as a voice for the vulnerable.
Service has always been close to Ismail’s heart. As a kid, he would help interpret and mediate conflicts among the diverse ethnicities in his neighborhood. Now as an attorney, he uses his legal expertise to address systemic issues that impacted families like his. He started his law practice in 2018 and specializes in immigration and criminal law. Ismail regularly provides pro bono legal services to ensure that people have robust legal representation regardless of their socioeconomic status. This includes representing low-income tenants facing evictions and expungements for low level offenses for young adults.
Ismail advocates for the community aside from his law practice understands the unique challenges facing many across racial and socio-economic backgrounds. As a member of North Linden Area Commission, Ismail worked to strengthen zoning ordinances and advocated for improvement to Columbus’ 3-1-1 non-emergency City services. Mayor Ginther appointed Ismail to the Civilian Review Board Workgroup to help develop strategies to restore trust between the community and police. He used his position on the workgroup to advocate for sensitivity training, emphasizing the importance of linguistic competence across cultural identities.
Ismail ran in the Democratic primary in 2018 for State Representative against the embattled Representative Bernadine Kennedy Kent to represent the 25th district in the Ohio Statehouse. It was his first time contesting an election, and many expected him to be soundly defeated given his lack of name recognition. But with hard work and a unifying message, Ismail Mohamed, to the surprise of many, ended up losing only by 658 votes to the incumbent.
If he had won, Mohamed would have been the first Somali elected official in Ohio.
To Ismail, it wasn’t a loss—but an opportunity to show that with the right message and engagement, we can bring new voices into the Democratic Party. Ismail worked with the Ohio Democratic Party to develop strategies to engage immigrants who recently acquired their U.S. citizenship.
With a unique life story and commitment to service, Ismail is now running for Ohio House District 3. As a Representative, Ismail will fight for everyday people by:
Ismail has the experience and the passion for delivering results for the people of Ohio House District 3.