Yara Said

Yara Said is a Syrian visual artist based in the Netherlands. The Salwa Foundation was initiated by Yara. She received her education at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Damascus, where she graduated in 2014. As a result of personal experience, she is aiming to connect art with social development. By immersing herself in disciplines such as politics, psychology, sociology, and theology, she endeavours to pinpoint the position of artists in society and the perception of that same society on artists. With this goal in mind, the Salwa Foundation was established. Named after Yara’s grandmother, Salwa is a name for girls in Arabic. Salwa means: “consolation”, “that which brings happiness”, “something that makes you forget your sadness and worries”.
Yara is now enrolled in the Fine Art Department at the Sandberg Institute, a two-year Master of Arts program.

Nanna Kassenaar

Nanna (Cultural Science Masters) has over 10 years experience coordinating art projects (inter)nationally, from small scale exhibitions, to large art interventions in public spaces. She owns a gallery in Amsterdam and has been working for the past two years as a project coordinator for the Favela Painting Foundation.

Mary Farwy

Mary Farwy is a Syrian architect based in the Netherlands since 2016. She has studied architecture in both Syria and Italy. In the Netherlands she designed an exhibition at the Stedelijk museum and she has co-curated at the Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, also she had the chance to design for other projects related to spatial design . Currently she is an (INSIDE) interior architecture master student at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.  

Betul Ellialtioglu

Betul was born in Istanbul where she was trained and worked as an Architect. She moved to Amsterdam in 2012. Over the years she has incorporated photography and graphic design to express herself and engage with the themes of migration, human development, and participation. She organized exhibitions, workshops, and worked in many organisations related to forced migration in diferent roles. She works as a community builder and communicater for Salwa.


Puccy was born in Syria where he was trained as a circus dog and worked as an entertainer. Over the years he has incorporated football playing and barking skills to express himself. He joined our team one year ago. Since then he has been the joy and fire of Salwa Foundation. He has been havily involved with our program.


Shailoh Phillips, chairman

Shailoh (R.E.) Phillips is a media artist, researcher, educator and community organizer. Originally trained in Anthropology, Philosophy and Cultural Analysis (University of Amsterdam, Humboldt University), she has spent the past decade working in the field of digital media and design education. Her practice revolves around fostering playful forms of collaborative resistance and seeking out pressure points to act in the face of social inequalities and unfolding ecological disasters. In 2016, she co-founded Studio Yalla, offering support and studio space to artists restarting their lives in the Netherlands. She holds an MA Education in Arts and Design (Piet Zwart Institute), is a PhD researcher in the Critical Making Consortium, teaches at Willem de Kooning Academy and at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Femke Bijlsma, secretary

I grew up in Wageningen, a provincial town on the river Rhine. I left for Japan. For one year I was an exchange student, staying with Japanese host families and going to a Japanese highschool in the countryside. When I returned to the Netherlands, I enrolled at the History of Arts course at the University of Amsterdam. But in spite of fantastic teachers (such as Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering), I felt not at the right place there. I wanted to create, to make spatial experiences. In 1999 I graduated from Delft University, and with a degree in architecture in my pocket I left again for Japan. This time as a research student at the Technical University of Tokyo.

Christine Kappé, treasurer

Christine Kappé is an accountant, artist and entrepreneur. She has a financial background and a special interest in cultural and social themes.

The board itself carries out its duties unpaid. The development and implementation of the programs and daily management of the foundation are outsourced to third parties on a project basis. The board supervises and controls these third parties in the performance of their duties. The board meets at least 4 times per year. Here you can find a copy of our by-laws.