Founder and CEO
Heela Yoon is the founder of the Afghan Youth Ambassadors for Peace Organization (AYAPO), a grassroots NGO working in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan. AYAPO focuses on UNSCR 1325 and 2250 and local peacebuilding. Through AYAPO, Heela has trained more than 80 young girls in Nangarhar, Laghman, and Kabul on gender equality, leadership, and first responders to humanitarian crises. With her NGO, she has engaged with religious and tribal leaders through community peacebuilding dialogues in the eastern zone to advocate for Afghan girls’ education.
Heela has more than five years of experience working with humanitarian and human rights organizations. She worked with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) as a Cora Weiss peacebuilding fellow, focusing on localizing the Women, Peace, and Security agenda in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. Before joining GNWP, she worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Afghanistan as a program coordinator for UNFPA.
Heela graduated from Kabul University with a bachelor’s in political science and a bachelor’s in business finance from the American University of Afghanistan. She completed her master’s in International Trade and Finance from Leeds Beckett University as a Chevening Scholar. She is a research consultant with Amnesty International, focusing on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, and she worked as a trainee with Oxfam Great Britain and campaign coordinator for Results UK.
She was the Civil Society briefer for the 64th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in 2020. She was awarded one of the young emerging peacemakers by Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Heela is also part of the 30 for 2030 youth leadership network, which brings together young decision-makers, eminent civic and business innovators, feminists, entrepreneurs, technology pioneers, educators, activists, artists, journalists, and more, supported by U.N Women. She has been recognized as one of the Young Leaders for the SDGs by the Office of General Secretary Envoy on Youth 2022-2023.