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Afghan Social Innovator, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, to speak at MIIS

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, an award-winning social innovator and Founder and CEO of the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL), will speak at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Irvine Auditorium on Wednesday, October 29, at 4pm. Dr. Yacoobi’s visit to the Institute is hosted by the Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL) in partnership with The WIP.

S Yacoobi - Profile Photo
Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi. Photograph courtesy of the Center for Social Impact Learning at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Globally, women and girls are not afforded the same educational opportunities as men. One dramatic consequence is lower health outcomes. The WIP is looking forward to Dr. Yacoobi’s talk on the successful innovations she has put forth to improve the education and health of Afghan women and children.

Dr. Yacoobi founded AIL in 1995 as a way to provide training, education and healthcare to Afghans, with a particular focus on women and children. AIL was the first organization to open Learning Centers for Afghan women – a concept that has been replicated by many organizations across Afghanistan. AIL has become internationally recognized for improving the health and education of Afghan women and children. Under Dr. Yacoobi’s leadership, AIL has helped 12 million Afghans through schools, learning centers, and medical clinics.

In 2005, Dr. Yacoobi was awarded the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy. Sakena was among the 1,000 women nominated to jointly receive the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2013, Dr. Yacoobi won the prestigious Opus Prize, an award that “honors unsung heroes of any faith tradition with a $1 million award for efforts to solve today’s most persistent and pressing global issues, including poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice.”

Dr. Yacoobi reading to girls in Afghanistan. Photograph courtesy of the Center for Social Impact Learning.

“I am honored to be the first speaker in CSIL’s Impact Pioneers Speakers Series,” says Dr. Yacoobi. “I really believe that students today, like those at the Monterey Institute, are going to be the ones who make the world a better place, and I look forward to speaking with the MIIS students about my work over the last 20 years, and the situation of the people of Afghanistan.”

Dr.Yacoobi was born in Herat, Afghanistan and educated in California. She holds a master’s degree in public health from Loma Linda University and a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of the Pacific. Dr. Yacoobi holds honorary doctorates from the University of the Pacific, Loma Linda University, Santa Clara University, the University of St. Joseph and Princeton. She is an emeritus member of the board of directors of the grant-making Global Fund for Women and serves on the board of the Monterey Institute’s Center for Social Impact Learning, as well as New Global Citizens, which connects young people with international NGOs to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues at a grassroots level. Previously, she was a professor at D’Etre University and a health consultant.

During her guest lecture, Dr. Yacoobi’s speaking topics will cover the challenges she faced in starting AIL and the current status of women and girls in Afghanistan. The event will mark the launch of CSIL’s Impact Pioneers Speaker Series. Throughout the year, CSIL will host a series of practical and compassionate entrepreneurs and change makers as a way to drive inspiration and thought leadership on social innovation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Visit:

This event is free and open to the public. For further inquiries, visit or contact Erina McWilliam-Lopez at 831.647.4645.

For more information and to let us know you are coming, visit our Facebook event page!

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