Until Feb. 1, 2023, we were Group Health Foundation. This post was written under our former identity. To learn more about our new name, read our announcement here.
Sewheat Asfaha says that the value of learning very much defines who she is. Whether it’s professionally or personally, through feedback from grantees or the array of podcasts she regularly listens to, Sewheat seeks to adapt, learn, and grow.
Her learning mindset is part of what drew her to Group Health Foundation. “It’s important for funders to acknowledge where they can continue to grow, and I feel like Group Health makes that such a key part of their work,” Sewheat says. “I feel like that was really built into Group Health’s model and something that I feel like I’ve been trying to build into my own growth intentionally.”
As the Foundation’s newest grants and data administrator, Sewheat comes with experience from her time at the Social Justice Fund NW, where she developed and maintained systems for their programs and grant processes, while also improving accessibility for grantees.
At Group Health Foundation, Sewheat is excited at the prospect of humanizing the grants process so that it honors the voices and labor of grantees. In practice, she says, this can look like rethinking legal obligations, applications, and deadlines to have the least amount of barriers possible. “If we take feedback from our program team and our grantees, we can create a grant process that’s super flexible and adaptable, and is relationship-driven.”
At Social Justice NW, Sewheat learned about the importance of gathering thorough and complete information from grantees, and that the quickest solution is not always the right one. “Real, substantial change takes time,” she reflects. While “moving with urgency is important,” she believes that “moving with intentionality is even more invaluable.”
Sewheat’s journey into grants management began with community. “I always found a strong connection to community,” shares Sewheat. In high school and Bowdoin College — where she studied government and legal studies — she volunteered often with various organizations, such as YouthCare and Students for Justice in Palestine. After college, she knew that she wanted to return to Burien and White Center—where she grew up in Seattle — and “share in some way.” In 2018, her participation in Social Justice Fund’s Black-led Organizing Giving Project eventually brought her to a position there.
This passion for community also intersects with several of her hobbies. Sewheat likes to spend her free time cultivating her green thumb, and hopes to become involved in community farming in the future. She also enjoys creating art, which she believes is not only a tool for social justice movements, but also a tool for one’s own healing. When she’s not engaging in these two activities, you’ll likely find her roller skating in Judkins or White Center.