Sonya first learned about the idea of a local multicultural leadership program from her coworker at State Farm and MCLP’s Founder, Phani Aytam. After participating in Leadership McLean County, Aytam felt there was a need for a multicultural leadership program and wanted to do something to make that happen. He approached several individuals for their opinion and support; that is when he approached Sonya, who was leading the Multicultural Business Development efforts for State Farm at the time. These conversations shaped the MCLP we know today, and Sonya has witnessed many participants graduate and make an impact as a result of the participation and leadership training they received.
Sonya continually stays involved in MCLP today. One way she has done this is through mentoring every year. Through this, she can not only help others grow, but she grows as well through hearing their stories and learning from their perspectives. Sonya also leads the session on Systems Thinking, a concept of holistic thinking and analysis focusing on not just the problem at hand but understanding the consequences, the connections, and how things unfold over time. Sonya saw this play out in her former leadership position as Vice President of Operations at State Farm.
When asked what leadership looks like to her, Sonya talked about the value of servant leadership. A leader, from her perspective, is someone who is willing to do what they ask others to do. It is someone who leads by example and creates an environment where all have a voice and are valued; it is putting employees first in an atmosphere of trust and confidence in one another.
Sonya will be moving to Dallas with her family within the next year, and we wish her the best of luck. We are so appreciative of everything she has done to make MCLP the growing and empowering leadership program that it is.