Headshot Photo of Sienna Nazarian
2022 Award Recipient


Project The Refugee Empowerment Project

Location Beverly Hills, CA

Issue Area Immigration/Refugee Support

As the child and grandchild of refugees, Sienna has sought to honor the sacrifices made by those who came before her by assisting refugees in her community. After seeking ways to get involved, Sienna realized that there were few opportunities for young people to volunteer to directly support refugees, so she created The Refugee Empowerment Project to provide refugees with the resources they need to prosper while also creating a space for teens to serve the community.

The organization takes a holistic approach to supporting refugees through its English mentorship program, community orientations, mental health initiative, advocacy council, and fundraising drive. The goal of the project is to change the way refugees are perceived and treated by eliminating roadblocks in their resettlement process, bridging the disconnect between refugees and non-refugee teens, and destigmatizing mental health care within the refugee community.

Tikkun olam encourages me to look beyond myself and see how I can leverage my resources in order to lift the voices and experiences of those around me.

Sienna Nazarian
A group of refugees wearing matching t-shirts stands outside smiling at the camera.

The Refugee Empowerment Project


Inspired by her own family’s history of fleeing persecution simply because they were Jewish, Sienna co-founded The Refugee Empowerment Project to break down the roadblocks that exist for refugees during their resettlement process by offering them the resources they need to thrive. Sienna recognized the impact of her organization the day an Afghani girl said, after she attended a community orientation, that it was “her best day in America.” Since its inception, The Refugee Empowerment Project has recruited more than 130 volunteers to assist over 1,000 refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers through direct service, including hand-delivering boxes of essential items to newcomers’ homes.

The Refugee Empowerment Project logo
Sienna leaning against a stack of boxes.