Refugees Arts Initiative: Annual Report 2022

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Refugee Artisan Initiative


Artisan Initiative partners with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the US through artisan skills training and micro business development.

From the Founder and Executive Director:

Looking back in 2022, I am most proud of how far we’ve come. From losing our RAI home due to flooding and becoming a homeowner in our permanent space to train and nurture artisans. RAI Artisans have also been an inspiration and I continue to learn from them.

I have found that refugee and immigrant women who become RAI Artisans are all motivated to learn and have an open mind to their new country. I learn they want to contribute and succeed to achieve their American dreams just like you and I do.

In this new year, 2023, I look forward to more skill building and micro business development for RAI Artisans so they can diversify their earnings and pursue their dreams.

-Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman


“Every week artisans come in through that door bringing their finished product they made from the week before and it really reminds me of my grandmother. She was a single mother in a small village in Taiwan, raising my mom and two uncles doing custom sewing work in her home. Coming here at age of 16, I see their success as a reflection of {my experience}…

These women also bring their culture, the food, oftentimes they bring tea to share. We want to create a very welcome and warm community where everyone wants to linger and get to know each other more, as we grow together.”

ARTISANS Pakistan | Vietnam |
| Ethiopia | Myanmar | Nepal | Morocco | China | Bhutan

39 Artisan Partners Since Inception

48 Culturally Represented Products

3 Artisans to Staff This Year


“RAI artisans are our north star. They guide our work at RAI and they are the foundation for our four pillars. Equity is our first pillar and the heart of what we do. Since our inception, we have partnered with over 39 immigrant and refugee women, helping them to earn a living wage, begin their own microbusinesses, and maintain flexible hours and the ability to work from home to accommodate childcare. We are a “by and for” organization and the majority of us are mothers, women, immigrants, refugees, and providers for our families. 100% of the women served are from BIPOC communities. Equity and partnership are at the heart of everything we do.”


“I was a design intern for RAI last summer in which I was tasked in designing products using donated recycled materials, burlap, aluminum coffee bags, climate pledge arena concert banners, fire hoses, just to name a few. It was inspiring to see the women come together each week with a plethora of creations that they had all sewn, all the while cooking delicious meals that we sometimes got to try, taking care of their families, some working multiple jobs and just overall being super-women.”


50 Innovative Products Designed

125 Fabric Donation Visits & Collections

15,000 lbs. Materials Diverted from Landfills an increase of 200%

65 Refugee and Immigrant Women Currently on our Waitlist

18 Sewing Classes and Workshops A five fold increase since 2021

33 Refugee & Immigrant Women Who Have Completed Training Classes

to become RAI Artisans.


“At the beginning of class I didn’t know anything, even not knowing how to open the machine...Since childhood I was interested in learning sewing so I could stitch something ...I have learned all the basics and it is a very useful skill, for making or fixing things around the house, taking in clothing, and more.”

“All the women in my village in Afghanistan sewed. That is why I came to Refugee Artisan Initiative. I’ve always enjoyed sewing. l can make many things. I sew with my sisters-inlaw and my sister. We come together and sew.”


–Swetha, 2022-23 student


“Our partnership has only grown stronger over the years, we keep finding new opportunities to work together. I’d say myself and at Starbucks we love RAI’s focus on three areas: supporting refugees, reusing materials diverting them from landfills, and also making products that the community needs which is incredibly important.

We love what they do, their efforts deliver a ton of value because they hit on all of that. I’ve been so impressed with how inventive and creative they have been and their ideas and their quality of work is so impressive…We at Starbucks find it really exciting and rewarding to be involved, it’s become a huge bright spot for me. We’re so excited with what the new year ahead holds.”

- Leadership team of the Refugee & Immagrant Alliance at Starbucks


100+ Community Volunteers 40 Corporate Service Events 20 Corporate Partnerships 12 Community Service Events

$3052.50 donated to the Ukraine Red Cross from funds raised from our Ukraine Pin Kits. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and members of OL Reign Women’s Professional Soccer Team supported our cause.


Back to School Bundles: A total of 812 bundles were made by artisans and donated to students furthest from educational justice through our Communities in Schools Renton-Tukwila partners.



Our Friendship Through Fleece Campaign raised funds for artisans to make and donate 1500 fleece hats and neckwarmers to unhoused community members throughout the Puget Sound area.



A total of $22,000 raised to make pet products through our GiveBig WA campaign.

Artisans were paid a living wage and their handmade pet products were donated to unhoused dogs and cats awaiting adoption at the Seattle Humane.


8 Artisans Became Micro Business Owners



Remnant fabric napkins, totes, scrunchies



Custom burlap totes




Custom burlap totes

Chris Leverson, Tessa Hall BLCT & CHSW

Brett Kingsbury, Angelica Callahan, Refugee & Immigrant Alliance at Starbucks

Lululemon IT Team

Remitly Team | HR & International Finance

Dean Gorby and Carrig Construction

Seattle University Graduate Nursing

Students: aka Kool Beanz (Jenna, Hannah, Ivy, Abby, Patrick, Arni, Nathan)

Reverb Team

Davis Wright Tremaine Law Firm

Hannah and FPNW Accounting

NBBJ Architectural Firm Team

Team Largesse, Ilse and Heidi

Seattle Rotary NE and West Seattle

Plum Coaching & HR Consulting

Lee and Travis Jones

Grand Opening Fashion Show Models

The Salim Family

Katelyn Wong, Georgia Spinler

Girl Scouts of Western Washington (15+ troops)

Charlene Robins

Shannon Ninburg

Julie Davis

Nola Davis

Emilia Brenner

Avery Passe

Janie Tennant

Jessica Closson

Julie Hearne

Bo (Jim Horazdovsky)

Yolehka Mallier

Tali Rausch

Jesse Gibbs, Esperulette Creative

Roisin McGlynn

Gillian Peckham

Shira Pinker

Jim Ragui


“As a volunteer, I gave to this project but equally received from the RAI community along the way, for that I’m eternally grateful”

Horazdovsky , RAI Volunteer


Anna White


Banner Bank

Basel Hajeb


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bryan & Christine White

Build Lake City Together

Carmen Tomshack & Dean Gorby

Carrig Construction

Cathy Danigelis

Charles Curtis & Jane Harvey

Common Good Church


Darik Taniguchi Dropbox

East Bay Community Foundation

Epiphany Outreach & Service Ministry

Fred and Theresa Wong

Geri & James Tomshack

Heather Bridges

Impact West Seattle

Inatai Foundation

Jenny Porter

Julita & Rob Eleveld

King County 4Culture

King County Re+ Circular

King County Solid Waste Division

Konstantin Peric & Pascale Martens

Kristi Romain

Lauren Rolfe & the Grousemont Foundation

Leang Chung

Liz Larsen Lululemon

Lu-Wong Foundation

Michelle Holobinko


Naoko Tsunoda



NextCycle Washington

Providence Swedish Community Investment and Partnerships

Puget Sound Energy

Refugee & Immigrant Alliance Team


Russell Hanbey & Jeanne Anderson

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Seattle Foundation

Seattle Office of Economic Development

Seattle Public Utilities

Social Venture Partners

Refugee & Immigrant Alliance at Starbucks

Seattle Human Services Department

Stephen Freese & Katherine King

Susna De

The Gates Foundation

The Jagadeesh Family

The King County Council and the Office of CM Rod Dembowski

The Office of The Mayor of Seattle

The Seattle City Council and the Office of Debora Juarez

The U.S. Congress and the Office of Representative Pramila Jayapal

Thomas and Rowayne Maguire

Washington State Microenterprise Association

Wells Fargo

Windermere - Capitol Hill

Windermere - Midtown

Windermere - Sandpoint

Windermere - Wedgwood

Windermere Foundation

Yumiko Damashek


“This is an investment strategy in the right way. You’re creating something that goes beyond the beauty of the products. You’re building a community for the women and the refugees that… perhaps they lost [and] what winning looks like…is you feel good about what you are doing. You can work from home, you can earn a wage, you can help build a community. When you come here [you have a place] that will love you, that will accept you and most importantly not give a handout but invest in you… because that’s all we have to do and you will take it from there.”


- Bruce Harrell, City of Seattle Mayor
“I like to sew and work for RAI. Working from home is the best for me as it is very helpful and easy for me to earn.”
-Ayasha, RAI Artisan

Angela & Brian Toy

April Cameron

Beverly Schaefer Boeing

Brett Kingsbury

Brittany Mejl

Carol Sanders

Chris Jacobson and Dorothy Marie Harris

Clark Mosher

Dan Root

David Mersereau

Don Beaty

Elizabeth Hilton Expedia

Gei Chan

Greg Edmiston

Hannah Victoria Franklin Pierce

Hayden Bixby

Hayden Harvey

Jane Fellner

Julie Averill

Kate Sackett

Kathi Lentzsch

Kathleen Cole

Laurie Barrett

Lennon Fediw

Lisa Graham

Margaret Morency

Meredith Dorrance

Michele Kvam

Pelora Stack

Quackenbush Family

Ramona Emerson

Rebecca Braun

Robert Overhus

Roisin McGlynn

Seattle Opera

Steve Hooper

Teri Franklin

Tom Tutt

Victoria Evans


Bernie Saiki

Beth Cestari

Beth Donahoe

Beth Ruder

Bettie Luke

Bev Kelleher

Brena Cole

Brenda Krauth

Brett and Dori Kelleran

Bria Chakofsky

Brittani Lum Ho

Bruce Hall

Cara Egan

Caroline Quinn

Catherine Lee

Cathy and Dave Bentley

Chantel Hilton

Cheryl Curran

Deborah Fulkman

Debra Leith

Deepa Patten

Di Dai

Diane Elliott

Dirk Giseburt

Don Ratliff

Doris Rhodes

Douglas Davis

Douglas Smith

E Edwards

E Garcia

Edward and Nancy L Emerson

Eileen Gormly

Elena Damashek

Elisabeth Villavicencio

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Vibber

Heidi Wong

Henry Campbell

Herman Tam

Irene Goto

J Dianne Garcia

Jack Polito

Jacob Martina

Jacqueline Reid

James Smith

James Stempel

Jana Hollingsworth

Janice Jackson-Haley

Janine Dodge

Jean G Amick

Jean Lee

Jeanette Brooks

Jennifer Avellino

Jennifer Castle

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Wolochow

Jennifer Yeung

Jenny Ho

Jeremy Collins

Jerry & Judy Cam Nguyen

Jessica Brown

Jessica Closson

Jessica Diallo

Jessica Farmer

Jessica Sweeney

Jessica Watts

Jill Amsberry

Jim and Chris McAuliffe

Jim Horazdovsky

Jimi Hightower

Jo’Nielle Sinclair

JoAnn Orikasa

Jody Mull

Joel Dashnaw

John Claus

John M Rusin

John and Erin Shen

Judith Ginn

Judith Kurnick

Julie Calligaro

Julie Hearne

Julie Kageler

Julie Sun

Kamila Kilayko

Kara DeLost

Karen Connell

Karen Crow

Karen LePage

Karen Merritt

Karen Thompson

Katherine Cobb

Katherine L Larson

Katherine Moriarty

Kathleen Pease

Kathrine & Alec Laureano

Katrine Fritz


Kelly Forslund

Kerry Hegedus

Kevin Connell

Kim Wilson

Kimberly Hardman

Kirbee Nykamp

Kitty Doty

Kitty Harding

Kristin Okerholm

Kristina Logsdon

Kristy Petersen

Kyle Ellman

Lane Johnson

Laurence Shannon

Leila Thamer

Lily Eng

Lindsay & Tony Blackner

Lisa Collins

Lisa Reynolds

Liz Becker

Lois Roby

Lorene Martinson

Lori Bartosh

Lynn Baum

Lynne Behrendt

Madeleine Cole

Maile Coad

Malinda Sreng

Marcia Frey

Marcia High

Marianne Mowat

Marie France Minton

Marilyn Stoknes

Maris Espinoza

Mark Alison

Marriam Leve

Mary and Jim Adkins

Mary Ann Goto

Mary Gorjance

Mary Jo Garvin

Mary Montgomery


Masako Tsunoda

Maureen DiGiacomo

May Ho

McKenna Morrigan

Meg Roberts

Megan Harper

Melanie Taing

Melissa Hill

Mellody Ramirez

Melody Schneider

Meredith Lohr

Mh Lines

Michelle Stratton

Mikaela Kiner

Mike Zell

Min Min Wong

Min-Min Wong

Moriarty Katherine

Nancy Gresham

Nancy Outcalt

Naoko Shin-Williams

Naomi Nomura-Barry

Nareth Tungman

Natalie Hauser

Nguyen Nguyen

Nicolette Bromberg


Nnenia Campbell

Pam Melin

Pamela Karais

Patrick Mumpower

Peter Clarke

Pey-Lin Carroll


Phyllis Goodman

Phyllis Lee

Phyllis McCormick

Pinky Herrera

Pledge Online Giving

Rachael Koschnick

Rachel Fiala

Rae Levine

Randall Broom

Rashmi Sharma

Renee Barton

Richard Loo

Riva Edelman

Roberta Rudy

Romain Darde

Ronald DiGiacomo

Rosalind Oliver

Ruth Keppler

Salal Credit Union

Sallie Sanford

Sally Olson

Sandra Lowe

Sandra Michelle Cardenas

Sara Eizen

Sarah Islam

Shawn Blossey

Sheila Mahoney

Sherry Stempel

Sherry Williams

Sheryl Shumsky

Shun Zheng

Sierra Nelson

Silas Studley

Sonni Aribiah

Stacia Johanna Starbucks

Stefan Pokorny

Stephanie Bardwell

Stephanie Sareeram

Stephen and Catherine


Steven Eng

Susan Jacobson

Susan Neaton

Susan Taing

Suzie Ferguson

Talya Clay

Tarun Bhatia

Ted & Cathy Millan

Teri Sauvain

Terri Smith

Thao Le-Dang

Theodore and Cathy Millan

Theresa A Demeter

Theresa Tong

Thia Yoeun

Timothy Vinopal

Ting Ting Chan

Tom Church

Tracey Yee

Tsui Pappas

Vanessa Tuttle

Vicki Simmons

Vinay Chaudhary


Wynette Jameson

Yoke Wong

Yue Chen

Yuko Kishimoto

Zahlen Titcomb

Ziba Kaboli-Gerbrands

“I like sewing and working at RAI, this is the best possible job that I can imagine for me.”
- Mahbooba, RAI Artisan

2022 Financials


For calendar year 2022, our total expenses were approximately $887k and income came in at $953k. The charts to the left show how this money was spent, and the sources of income.



Photography by: Gillian Peckham, Devin Larson (Backcountry Bohe mians), Ali Vrbas (Sound Roots Photography),
Photography), Matt Rommel Photog raphy, Chona Kasinger, Sharon Ho Chang, RAI Staff | Designed b y: Esperluette Creative


Living Wages

Increase the number of artisans we partner with and double the amount of combined income for RAI Artisans. This is part of our commitment to fair, living wages and honoring flexible work environments, economic independence, and new career pathways.


Cultural Storytelling

Expand on giving voice to RAI Artisans, their histories, stories, and dreams. RAI’s Kochiani Project, embarked on in late December 2022, was unveiled in February 2023 at the Seattle Opera as an art piece telling a collective story of Afghan embroidery work by eight RAI Artisans.

VISION: 2023


Green Equity Initiative

Thanks to Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez and Office of Economic Development, BECU Green Equity Initiative, and King County Solid Waste Division, RAI is focused on diverting even more unique materials and making impactful products for the community

A Coming Home

Thanks to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Council Member Rod Dembowski for their support in securing our current space. In 2023, RAI will launch its $5 Million capital campaign to restore and renovate our space into becoming a Maker Space & Cultural Center. Plans include upgraded sewing spaces, a textile processing center, rotating artisan galleries, oral history area, prayer and team room, community gathering space, and an innovation lab.

Join Us or Learn More at
@refugeesarts /refugeesarts refugees-arts


Yumiko Damashek, Hayden Bixby, Akiko Eisner-Waters, Brittany Mehl, Bharathi

Jagadeesh, Heather Bridges, Leang Chung, Elta Ratliff

ADVISORS & CONTRIBUTORS: Donna Verretto, Camille Steen, Steve Hill, Ron Chew

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