Executive Director, Professor of Practice
Sonal is an economist and entrepreneur and has spent her career focused on economic policy and actionable innovation in the public and private sectors. She is a global leader on social innovation policy including impact investing, data and technology for social good, and civic engagement through government, business, philanthropy and civil society. She has led policy innovations at the White House for President Obama and the Treasury Department for President Clinton. She brings a unique and diverse background. An international economist she set up the central bank in Bosnia, worked post conflict reconstruction in Kosovo, and implemented poverty reduction strategies in Africa and financial crises in Asia and Latin America. In the private sector, she led technology for civic engagement and impact investing initiatives at Google, as the head of Global Development Initiatives and set up and ran the environmental strategy, including investing clean technologies at Goldman Sachs.
She served as Deputy Assistant to the President for President Obama and founded the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. She served on President Obama’s transition board leading the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform group. In the Administration, Sonal led the efforts to set up innovative finance mechanisms for service delivery, leveraging technology to better engage citizens in government, creating new public private partnerships and supported and trained leadership throughout government (political and civic service) to institutionalize innovative practices.
Sonal started her career at the U.S. Department of Treasury where she was an international economist working on timely development issues, including post-conflict development in Bosnia, Asian financial crisis, and poverty reduction in Africa.
One of Sonal’s most proud accomplishments is working with her siblings to create a non-profit, Indicorps, to build a new generation of socially conscious global leaders. They worked with some of the leading non-profit and social organizations throughout India working on issues of healthcare, education, farming, women’s development, etc. Indicorps created the service movement in India inspiring and incubating new social enterprises like Teach for India and Sarvajal.
She serves on the board of the UBS Optimus Foundation, Case Foundation, Oxfam America, Non Profit Finance Fund, the Urban Alliance, and The Century Foundation. She serves as an adviser to the Democracy Fund.
Education: University of Chicago, B.A. in Economics; Duke University, M.A. in Economics
Hometown: Born in Mumbai, India — grew up in Houston, TX
Favorite Quote: The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind. – Rumi
What I’m Reading Now: Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates