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Pass the Torch for Women Monthly Mentoring Chat

Julie Petr, Executive Director of Pass the Torch for Women Foundation, hosts a monthly mentoring chat with business and community leaders.

Sep 28, 2016

Julie Petr has an inspiring monthly mentoring chat with author and educator Laila Ayoubi. 

Guest Bio

Laila was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She graduated from Kabul University, where she studied French and journalism.

Her father, General Muhammad Asef Khan, was the Commander of the Royal Air Force in Afghanistan during the reign of King Zahir Shah. In 1979, at the onset of the Soviet Invasion, the Afghan communist government imprisoned her father, like many of Kabul's military and government leaders. After his release eight months later, he advised his family to leave Afghanistan until peace was restored. He stayed behind for the love of his country.

In 1980, Laila, with her husband Bashir, the son of a former Afghan Minister of Finance, and two baby boys fled to Pakistan, avoiding persecution and imprisonment themselves. After a few months, as political refugees, they migrated to the United States, where they arrived in New York City during June 1981. They soon moved to Indianapolis.

Thoughts of returning home gave her comfort. She hoped that soon things would get better with the Afghans defeating the Soviets. The family then would return to Afghanistan. Destiny had other plans for Laila and her family. After the Soviets left Afghanistan countless civil wars began. They decided to remain in America. She has developed a great love for her adopted country similar to the love she still has for her native homeland. Her first job in America was teaching French at a university. In 1985 her third son was born.

Since coming to America, she has earned four additional degrees: a bachelor's in English; a master's in Community Psychology; a master's in Near Eastern Cultures and Languages; and a Ph. D. in International Relations with a focus on the education of Afghan refugee girls in Pakistan.

She extended her teaching to the areas of English, World Literature, the History of Islam, and other liberal arts courses at Butler University and Martin University. She also was a journalist for the Indiana Herald.

In 2003-2006, she served as a diplomat in the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad. She was a member of the diplomatic team participating in Afghanistan's reconstruction program. In addition to her diplomatic career, she worked as a national educational advisor for the United Nations Developmental Programs (UNDP), and served as a faculty member/program manager with Washington State University Extension at Kabul University.

Laila wit her husband Bashir, still resides in Indianapolis and continues to teach and write. Her oldest son, Ali, is a cardiologist; her second son, Edris, is a doctor of internal medicine; and her youngest son, Slaimon, is an attorney. and is currently a board member for the Indianapolis Arts Council.


Laila's Advice to Someone New to the United States

  • Always remember where you came from
  • Remember why you came to America
  • Work hard and get a good education
  • Always be a good neighbor to others


Niki's Honor and Discussion of Honor Killing

  • Honor Killing - the traditional practice of killing a family member that is believed to have brought shame to the family
  • Honor killings happen all over the world, not just the Middle East
  • Honor killings are a pre-Islamic tribal tradition, and not a part of Islam religion
  • Why she wrote Niki's Honor


Character Traits for Success

  • Ability to learn from your own, as well as the mistakes of others
  • Abundance of patience
  • Perseverance


Leadership Advice

  • Have confidence
  • Lead by example
  • A great leader knows when to follow


Phrase she lives by

Keep go on.


Links & Resources

Niki's Honor


Ways to Join the conversation & spread the word 

If you found a nugget or two of value, or just enjoyed the conversation, drop by iTunes to leave a rating, review, and subscribe.

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