Prior to full time devotion to SAORI Arts NYC, Ria Hawks was a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NY Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Her focus was providing children with palliative and curative care for children with cancer and life threatening hematological diseases. Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for Integrative therapies, which included interventions that promoted healing.

As a Saori weaver, Ria recognized that SAORI weaving could decrease stress and anxiety, as well as enhance self-expression and coping skills. From that perspective, she established a Saori weaving program, which was adaptable to different developmental, physical, and emotional needs, in the Pediatric Hem/Onc/BMT center at CUMC. As an adjunct professor at Bank Street College of Graduate Education, Ria shares her expertise with child life specialist students. Ria also volunteers in the Arts in Medicine Studio, in the Pediatric Neurology Clinic at CUMC.


Brandy is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in Fiber Art and a Fashion Design Concentration.  She moved to NYC in 2009 and began working as a fashion designer and couturier. Continuing to learn the craft of tailoring and patternmaking, and design, she worked for fashion houses such as Etro, Marni, Isaac Mizrahi Couture, and tailoring agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Seeking a free form weaving method, Brandy began weaving at SAORI studio Loop of the Loom. From the first weaving session, Brandy recognized it was clear the ease and liberation that SAORI provides for all. Discovering the significant benefits SAORI provides for people with disabilities, she found a serendipitous match.

In April 2015, Brandy spearheaded a successful collaboration between people with disabilities in Japan and fashion designers in NYC. Brandy collaborated with thirteen year old non-verbal autistic SAORI weaver in Japan named Amane for this event. She made a garment with Amane’s inspirational weaving.

Brandy introduced the SAORI method to her non-verbal autistic brother Gary Godsil. He now resides with her in NYC and enjoys drawing, painting and Saori weaving.


Maurine Packard, M.D., Treasurer

Maurine is a retired practicing pediatric neurologist whose private practice was affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell Medical School.  Reflecting her previous careers as a general pediatrician then child development specialist, Maurine’s focus was on assisting families with children who had severe developmental disabilities and brain injury access conventional and alternative therapies so that each child could reach his or her full potential.  She was interested in finding ways to help non-verbal and motorically impaired children express themselves.

She discovered the uniqueness of SAORI when she began weaving at Loop of the Loom and was immediately drawn to this joyful, contemplative art form.   She was impressed with the ease with which young children learned to weave on the SAORI loom, how involved and focused they became in the weaving process, and how proud they were of their creations.   She immediately saw how accessible this technique would be for many individuals with a variety of disabilities.  In particular, the SAORI loom can be modified to accommodate those with motor challenges, her primary interest. 

As a SAORI Arts NYC board member, Maurine is now combining her professional expertise with her recently discovered talent as a SAORI facilitator and artist.







Yukako studied visual design at Kyoto Seika University in Japan. At the age of 25, Yukako moved to NYC to work as an assistant art director for an advertising agency for seven years.  Yukako met  Misao Jo, the founder of Saoriin Japan, just one month before the tragedy of 9/11.  That is when Yukako began practicing Saori weaving as a form of healing for herself and understoodthat this was a skill and philosophy she would share.

Yukako hosted her first Saori workshop near Ground Zero for friends and children in grief post 9/11. With a portable loom, she traveled to many places to demonstrate Saori as a public art activity, and realized that Saori is therapeutic not only for healing, but also for discovering the joy of living.

In 2005 Yukako became a certified Saori instructor, and opened a SAORI weaving studio, Loop of the Loom, on the Upper East Side of New York City. As a pioneer of SAORI in the US she has been teaching its method in both local and global communities. She received grants from Peace Stone Foundation as a teaching artist in Senegal and The Laura Lenzner Adasko Artist in the residence program at Bank Street School for Children.