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Conversations with Sonji Young

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonji Young.

Hi Sonji, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve always gravitated toward helping others.

My passion for volunteerism, service and inclusion dates back to early in my youth. I always looked for ways to give back. That spirit of altruism led me to work in philanthropy early in my career.

The opportunity to raise awareness and support for important causes in my community gave me a great sense of purpose.

Whether it was causing that created safe spaces for children and families like the YMCA to the opportunity to save lives by joining the Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry, my early career path afforded me the chance to make an impact in a number of ways.

My commitment to inclusion and diversity was always at the core of my work to serve others.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road I’ve traveled – in both my personal and professional life – has certainly not been a smooth, linear one, but it has made me the person I am today. I’ve faced significant setbacks, delays, and disappointments.

Even in my lowest points, I’ve always been someone who wanted more in life – never settling for less regardless of the adversity I encountered. Along the way, there were people who didn’t always see my determination as an asset. There came a point when I realized that it would never matter who clapped for me or helped if I wasn’t willing to do the work of helping myself.

I had to be my greatest cheerleader. To this day, that is what has kept me striving to achieve my personal best, and not become satisfied with achieving the status quo.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’ve spent nearly 15 years of my career advocating for marginalized communities in and across a number of industries. In essence, I’m a change agent committed to creating more inclusive businesses and corporations where everyone is afforded a greater sense of belonging.

I’ve had innumerable experiences throughout my career where I was the only black woman in the room and never wanted to grow comfortable with the unease of being one of few. I see my work as critical to ushering in a new generation of unabashed, innovative leaders who get it – understand that we all bring tremendous value and are willing to collaborate across our differences.

My time working in Silicon Valley taught me that the longer we take to create space for those who’ve historically not been at the table, the more we miss out on opportunities to be leaders at what we do best. Currently, I serve as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for AmLaw 200 law firm, Armstrong Teasdale LLP. I’m most proud of the diverse law professionals that I have the honor of learning from each day.

They inspire me to work harder to ensure equity is realized. It’s not easy work, and it doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
If I could talk to anyone just starting out in their career, looking to shift or start over,

I’d remind them to always remain authentic to their values. Never compromise for the sake of mere acceptance. Be willing to try new things and give yourself room to make mistakes. If you fail, fail fast and get back up with a greater sense of what you need to improve.

Don’t stay down when disappointment occurs. Use disappointment as motivation and fuel to keep going. Finally, be your own advocate. Don’t wait for others to speak on your behalf. Instead, be confident and ask for what you need.

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2 Comments

  1. Pamela Slaughter

    July 5, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    I’m inspired by Sonji on a regular basis. Sonji’s insightful, encouraging, wise posts on Facebook give me life! Good article!

  2. Georgia M Brown

    July 13, 2022 at 1:08 am

    Sonji is a rare and authentic GEM! A great humanitarian and advocate who has always found the time to share her thoughts,ideas, and unique talents to enlighten, inspire and lift others. Excellent article!

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