Esther is guided by our shared Minnesota values
My name is Esther Agbaje, and I’m running to be the State Representative for community. Our district covers a growing and diverse area in Minneapolis, that currently includes Near North, Harrison, Willard-Hay, North Loop, Bryn Mawr, and Downtown. The district is the heart of the city, from the vibrant communities of the North Side to the Hennepin County Medical Center and the Mississippi River.
My professional skills helped me in my first term to advocate for a phase down to our eviction moratorium that provided strong supports for tenants. I carried and passed bills that supported skills building for well paying jobs through Twin Cities Rise and Summit Academy. I also passed a bill that provides low income homeowners greater access to funding to make repairs to their homes that can help with energy efficiency.
I was born in St. Paul, lived in Brainerd, and went to high school in Faribault. After law school, I moved to downtown Minneapolis in 2017 to contribute to the place I call home. My parents came to Minnesota from Nigeria to further their education. They started a family here, and my brothers and I owe the opportunities we’ve had to their hard work, example, and inspiration.
My father is a priest in the Episcopal Church, and my mother has directed a homeless services center in the past. As a child of parents whose mission was to serve others, I have followed in their footsteps throughout my life. In college, I worked to advance labor rights. In graduate school, I helped build healthy and sustainable communities. In the State Department, I managed programs advocating for civil rights. And in law school, I defended tenants from eviction.
As a transit rider and renter, I am passionate about reliable public transit and affordable housing. Sky-rocketing rent costs affect everyone from senior citizens to young professionals and working families. I also advocate for environmental justice, serving on climate groups through TakeAction Minnesota and St. Mark’s Cathedral to promote renewable energy. Throughout my work, I make sure to center the voices of low-income people and communities of color.
As a negotiator, as a lawyer, and as a former program manager, I know how to advocate for the district and find common ground with other legislators in St. Paul. As a millennial, a generation that has suffered numerous setbacks, I will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to government. I look forward to hearing from you about your ideas for the district and for Minnesota. Together, we can build the inclusive and just society we deserve.
About Esther's lifelong work in law and justice
Esther serves as a State Representative in the Minnesota House of Representatives. In her first term she championed efforts to increase affordable housing and was part of the team that worked to lengthen protections for the eviction moratorium. She was also the lead author on the CROWN Act for 2022.
Esther Agbaje is a Staff Attorney with the Public Health Law Center providing legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues. Prior to joining PHLC she was an associate with Ciresi Conlin LLP. She practices in general civil litigation and medical malpractice. She also has experience in class action lawsuits. In 2019 she was part of a team that settled with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to allow prisoners who qualify access to potentially life-saving Hepatitis C medication. Minnesota Lawyer recognized her for this work when naming Esther a 2019 Attorney of the Year.
Prior to practicing law in Minnesota, Esther attended Harvard Law School. There, she spent two years as a student attorney defending tenants from eviction with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Through this experience, Esther developed a passion for housing justice after seeing many of her clients living in unsafe or unhealthy buildings or paying rents they could barely afford. She continues supporting tenants by volunteering with the Volunteer Lawyers Network Housing Court Project in Hennepin County.
Before turning to law, Esther was a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State. There, she managed rule of law projects in the Middle East focusing on Egypt and the Gulf states. She also facilitated exchange and scholarship projects for judges, lawyers, journalists, and students between the region and the U.S. In this role, she learned how to manage varied stakeholders while pursuing programs that focused on outcomes. Her work emphasized how the government can be a supportive partner to advocates and community members looking to build their own future.
While earning her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Esther worked with local government offices to develop their performance management systems. These systems helped to better track and report on the impact and outcomes of city programs. Additionally, Esther developed indicators for recreation centers and homeless shelter programs in the City of Philadelphia. She also presented a research project on best practices in city management to advance the goal of creating healthy and sustainable communities.
Esther studied Political Science at The George Washington University and was active in mentoring incoming students and advocating for labor rights in different internships. Upon graduation, she received the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship which led to her career at the State Department.
Minnesota has always been home for Esther and she is glad to be back. She looks forward to contributing to a community that provided her with a strong foundation of support and values. Esther enjoys spending time with her friends and family and is also known to play the flute or dance salsa on occasion.
We must insist on a better future.
"As a negotiator, as a lawyer, and as a former program manager, I know how to advocate for the district and find common ground with other legislators in St. Paul. I look forward to hearing from you about your ideas for the district and for Minnesota. Together, we can build the inclusive and just society we deserve."
Join Esther's campaign for Inclusion and Justice
Esther believes that together we can create a state that lives out our bold and progressive values. Be a part of this vision by volunteering, spreading the word on social media, sharing the issues facing your community, attending an event, or following along online.