Baktash Ahadi is the founder and Principal Consultant of Taleem, a leadership consultancy focused on leadership, narrative storytelling, and behavior change. He led the congressionally mandated "Afghan Familiarization Course" at the Foreign Service Institute, where under his tenure the course became the "best rated course at the State Department". Moreover, Baktash served as an advisor, mentor, and translator for the U.S. Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan from 2010-2013.
In 1984, when Baktash was three years old, he and his family fled their native Kabul, Afghanistan, after his father, a government employee, refused to join the communist regime. After surviving a harrowing seven-day journey on horseback through the Hindu Kush mountain range to Pakistan, during which they were shot at and nearly killed several times, Baktash's family eventually settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The tragic events of 9/11 set Baktash on a path of examining why people do what they do. Upon graduation from college, he decided to serve in the Peace Corps as an educator in a rural village in Mozambique. His father learned English from a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kandahar in the 1960s and that experience was the inspiration for his family to come to the United States.
Baktash interrupted his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University to return to Afghanistan for an equally harrowing mission. Uniquely positioned as both a U.S. citizen and an Afghan national who speaks the Dari language, he initially worked in western Afghanistan for a U.S. and NATO Afghan advisory group. He supported counterinsurgency efforts to both win “the hearts and minds” of Afghan locals and engage them to determine their perceptions on a wide range of topics from opium production to Taliban roaming courts. He later served as a cultural advisor and combat interpreter for the U.S. Special Operations Task Force, working as a liaison between the Special Forces (MARSOC), the Afghan Commandos, and Afghan locals.
After his service in Afghanistan, Baktash produced and translated a number of award-winning documentary films about free speech, photojournalism, the refugee crisis, and violence against women. He writes, speaks, and teaches regularly about individual, organizational, and societal change.
- Recently published Op-Ed in the Washington Post entitled, "I was a combat interpreter in Afghanistan and cultural illiteracy led to the failure in Afghanistan"
- My personal website is a reference that includes a short bio, podcast, films produced, and a TEDx Talk.
- My podcast, Stories of Transformation, which is a chart topping Apple podcast in the category of "documentary".
This link is to my TEDxTalk that is about storytelling, change, and vulnerability.