Mission Statement

Every Shelter utilizes the power of design to help displaced communities advance from surviving to thriving.

A safe, stable, home is the foundation to emotional and physical health. Without it, families and individuals cannot thrive. But for the world’s 68.5 million forcibly displaced people, home is anything but stable. 

Refugees and displaced people represent the fabric of their home societies: mothers and fathers, teachers and business people, leaders and thinkers of today. Their children are their future, and together they will be responsible for rebuilding their homes and communities when they return. The success of development efforts in post-conflict settings is directly tied to their present well-being. 

Unfortunately, due to the long, protracted nature of the world’s current conflicts, these lives are stuck in limbo for decades, and our global aid system has yet to find a good solution for them. After the initial rush of acute emergency assistance subsides, millions of people are still caught in a grey space between emergency relief and long-term development. Temporary shelters designed in immediate response to crisis become long-term dwellings. Within their walls marriages are made, babies are born, and family members are lost to age or disease. Even though life in a shelter is meant to be temporary, the impact of spending years living in inadequate housing is long-lasting. 

We at Every Shelter are committed to responding to by creating better provisions. We know that the need is massive and funding is tight, so we come alongside partner organizations to co-create new products and designs to make their resources work smarter and more effectively for the long-term dignity of their beneficiaries. We are passionate about innovating life-dignifying solutions that help families build the foundations they need to rest, recover and reclaim their future.

Our Core Values

  • Human-Centered

    We believe there is always a solution that keeps people and their empowerment front and center. Every human being should have adequate shelter. Period.

  • Quality Design

    Shelters and provisions, even when temporary, should be of high quality and thoughtfully designed. At our heart, we’re designers and product developers, and we believe that good design is critical to efficient use of humanitarian funds and can have an exponential impact in the lives those we serve.

  • Collaborative Innovation

    Innovation is the key to creating new solutions, but viable innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We believe that the communities we serve should inform new designs, ensuring that every product introduced meets a real, palpable need.

Our Team

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    Scott Key

    Co-Founder and CEO Houston, Texas

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    Scott Key

    Co-Founder and CEO Houston, Texas

    The process of designing new approaches and solutions to grave issues drives me. I believe the private sector and its vast reserves of professional skills and resources can fruitfully add to the productivity of ongoing humanitarian efforts to create a more just and merciful society. We all have a responsibility to do our part, but I firmly believe that in giving of ourselves we receive far more back than we give. Wendell Berry writes, “life is a gift we have only by giving it back again.” As a father of two young daughters, I want to model the intelligent, diligent, and hard-working compassion toward our neighbor to which I believe we are all obliged. It’s urgent and important work that we do.

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    Sam Brisendine

    Co-Founder and CPO Houston, Texas

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    Sam Brisendine

    Co-Founder and CPO Houston, Texas

    As a designer from the private sector, I'm passionate about ideas that improve the lives of those in need. My experience designing buildings, products, and art has taught me an important lesson: The most meaningful work is produced when partners work hand-in-hand on a common mission. Over the past 5 years, I've watched Every Shelter transform from an academic pursuit to working (and learning) alongside world-class organizations to design solutions that bring dignity to displaced communities. I have never been more proud of the work we're doing and look forward to seeing how we can continue to collaborate to solve the challenges ahead.

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    Nicole Iman

    Director of Communications Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

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    Nicole Iman

    Director of Communications Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

    I’ve been traveling the globe in development-related pursuits for more than 20 years, working with people throughout the varied stages of displacement. During my tenure in Afghanistan, I saw first-hand the challenges my Afghan colleagues faced that caused to them flee for their lives. While studying in northern Uganda, I met families struggling through years of displacement despite multiple attempts to return home. Through volunteer resettlement work in the US, I welcomed resettled refugees hoping to rebuild their lives in a new place while mourning the loss of friends and family they left behind. I am keenly aware of the human tendency to look at images of displaced people and refugees and immediately categorize them as “other.” Through joining Every Shelter, I have the chance to share stories can change that category to “one another” and help us work together toward dignified, human-centered solutions.

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    Julia Wallin

    Director of Operations and Partnerships Amman, Jordan

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    Julia Wallin

    Director of Operations and Partnerships Amman, Jordan

    As a social entrepreneur, I have dedicated my experience, passion and education to improving the lives of refugees around the world. Working in places as diverse as Jordan, Syria, India, Gaza and Afghanistan, I have witnessed, and now champion, the power, process and strength of community-led design and innovation. The horrors of forced displacement are a reality 1 in every 113th person in our world now experiences. I strongly believe as a global community we can work together to design cost-effective solutions that work to create a more dignifying reality for some of humankind’s worst trials.

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    Stefanie Cortez

    Communications Specialist

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    Stefanie Cortez

    Communications Specialist

    At Every Shelter I have the unique opportunity to use two passions in my life, mathematics and parenting, in one position. As a mathematician, I appreciate effective, elegant, and well-developed solutions to a problem. As a mom of two little ones, I also know the importance of sharing the stories, challenges, and successes of my life with my kids and others. As Communications Specialist for Every Shelter, I have the opportunity to inform the public about innovative designs as well as share the stories of people who are resolutely rebuilding their lives in new communities and countries despite overwhelming challenges. I believe that every person who reads about our work has the ability to impact people’s lives across the globe as they follow along with the journey to help people rebuild their lives from the floor up.