Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wali Shaaker is an award-winning poet and author who lived his teenage years through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He earned his M.A. in political science from San Francisco State University. His poems, analytical papers, commentaries, and short stories have appeared in the Afghan and U.S. publications. He is also the author of a nonfiction book, "Democracy's Dilemma: The Challenges to State Legitimacy in Afghanistan." Shaaker is an avid cyclist, and participates in local cycling races. He resides in Virginia with his wife Roya, son Wasim, and daughter Palatin.