The youngest member of the Swedish Prime Minister’s staff, Sassan Akhlaghi was appointed as Political Advisor when he was 26 years old in 2014 after being elected to the City Council of Stockholm. As Political Advisor, he helped move forward Sweden’s Climate Policy Framework Act, a first-of-its-kind climate law that integrates climate change into all areas of policy-making and mandates Sweden’s path to become a fossil-free welfare state by 2045. Now 32, Akhlaghi has also served on Foreign Minister Margot Wallström’s cabinet and worked as a civil servant in the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs.

Akhlaghi, who has a BA in Politics and Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, sees himself as an idealist at heart but a pragmatist by trade. Growing up in rural Sweden, he got engaged into politics at the break of the millennium by becoming involved in the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League and the anti-war movement. After the Obama Foundation Scholars Program, Akhlaghi will return home and continue his work for increased equality and sustainability in Sweden with a new, evidence-based approach to making policy.

“I hope that my time in Chicago and the Obama Foundations Scholars Program will help me develop the analytical framework and values compass I will need to navigate through the many difficult choices that I will be faced with as a leader working for a more just and sustainable world.”