Keva Sonderen first attended an EWI meeting as the guest of Amy Higgins in 2005. Amy’s father was a friend of Mark Sonderen and Keva had just started working at Sonderen Packaging. At the time, Keva was one of the group’s junior members and sought the mentorship of these accomplished women. Joining EWI meant opening a door to new community connections and the opportunity to foster confidence. Over the next 8 years, Kevas’s responsibilities grew and changed at both EWI and Sonderen Packaging. After serving as EWI’s Secretary of the Board and taking on more leadership at the family business, Keva felt that she needed to step back from EWI. She personally and professionally received so much fulfillment from the organization that she wanted to pay it forward rather than withdrawing membership.
By 2014, Kim Sternod had been an employee of Sonderen Packaging for 11 years. In her receptionist and customer service positions, Kim proved to be polished, professional, friendly, and organized. Keva thought that Kim would make a perfect rep for EWI and hoped she would embrace the possibilities made available to members. That August, Kim took on the role at EWI and says, “I am glad that Keva asked me to be the Sonderen Rep. It meant a lot to me because I know how much this meant to Keva, and it showed her faith and trust in me.”
This was Kim’s first time being a part of a professional organization and she shared that, for several meetings, she sat in her car until just before the meeting began as she did not know anyone and was not the gregarious type. (Keva remembers doing this as well!) It is easy to feel like an outsider in a group where it seems that many of the members are close and familiar. Overwhelmed and intimidated, Kim states “I met some nice women but didn’t feel like I fit in. I also didn’t feel comfortable leaving work to attend EWI functions.”
At one meeting, Kim was planning on leaving but Amy Higgins encouraged her to rejoin and took her under her wing. This act of encouragement eventually turned into a lasting connection and Kim began to feel like part of the team. After a two-year break, Kim returned as a Rep in 2018 with the full backing of Sonderen Packaging to attend functions, which was the difference-maker in getting involved. A member of the philanthropy committee, Kim’s peers quickly recognized her superior organizational skills and she was asked to be the Secretary on the Board. Keva encouraged her to do so after her own positive board experience. Kim said this about her decision to be a board member, “I guess it was time to go ‘all in’. If I’m going to be a member, I want to make the most of it.” Kim weathered a difficult year of virtual meetings through 2020. The board only met once in person. While this was a trying time and so difficult for all involved, she persevered.
When Erin McGann became president in 2021 she asked Kim to be the Sergeant at Arms. This is the perfect position for Kim who is very articulate and takes pride in pronouncing each and every member’s name and firm correctly! Kim loved the support and collaborative mindset of the Board, so she was excited at this next step. Based on Kim’s own experience, she is passionate about making sure the new members feel welcome. “My favorite thing about EWI is that it is a safe place be, a safe place to ask questions and be involved. There is never any judgment, and people truly appreciate the time and effort that is given.”
The EWI pillars are Career, Connection and Community. Kim has this to say about her experience with each of these pillars, “EWI has truly helped me feel valued and confident. I have made some good friends and met some wonderful, inspiring women that I am proud to associate with. I love the things they do in and around our community.”
Interested in joining Kim at EWI? Check out the calendar and come to a meeting!