Sakena Yacoobi

Executive Director,
Afghan Institute of Learning

Sakena Yacoobi is the Founder and CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL). Under Yacoobi’s leadership, AIL has developed into a groundbreaking, grassroots organization, providing education, training, healthcare and legal services to 12.5 million Afghans and empowering women, children and communities to live harmoniously and peacefully. AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women and the first to open Women’s Learning Centers. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban closed girls’ schools. Recently, AIL opened a legal Clinic to provide free legal services to poor Afghan women and has been hosting large scale peace conferences around Afghanistan. Yacoobi has also established four private high schools, a radio station and a hospital in Afghanistan.
Born in Herat, Afghanistan, Yacoobi earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific and master’s in public health from Loma Linda University. She has received many honors including five honorary doctorates, the prestigious Opus Prize and the 2015 WISE Prize for Education.