Shabana Basij-Rasikh was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, she dressed as a boy to escort her older sister to a secret school -- with dire consequences if they were caught. She attended a high school in America under the YES exchange program, and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. During college, she founded HELA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Afghan women through education. She also raised funds through foundations and public talks across the US to build a high school for girls in her ancestral village, and to build wells on the outskirts of Kabul to give communities access to clean drinking water.
An enthusiast of systemic change and community impact, Basij-Rasikh was selected as one of Glamour's Top 10 College Women of 2010, and was awarded the Vermont Campus Compact 2011 Kunin Public Award for outstanding public service, effective leadership and community-building. Now, Shabana has joined 10×10 as a Global Ambassador, supporting a global action campaign that links nonprofits, corporations, philanthropists, policy leaders, global influencers and grassroots activists in a movement to support girls’ education. She is managing director of SOLA (School of Leadership, Afghanistan), a nonprofit that helps exceptional young Afghan women access education worldwide and jobs back home.