Sonal Lal

Sonal Lal is a multilingual, heart-based leader who is passionate about bringing the world and its people together through courageous conversations and cross-cultural friendships.  A daughter of Fijian immigrants, Sonal was raised as a first-generation U.S. American in Portland, Oregon.  As one of the first women in her family to obtain a degree, Sonal graduated with double majors in Spanish and International Studies and a minor in Dance from Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA).  During this time, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and Cuernavaca, Mexico, and found joy in serving her local community as a Resident Assistant, Spanish Tutor, Specialized Recreation Volunteer, and by leading unique wellness and cultural retreats.  Sonal discovered her passion for international education in high school, where she completed two fully funded, prestigious U.S. State Department youth programs: The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth.  The former focused on increasing cultural awareness and dispelling stereotypes, while the latter offered her the opportunity to study the Hindi Language in Pune, India, intensively.  These experiences informed the start of her career in leading international academic programs on relevant themes such as peacebuilding, advocacy, human and civil rights, civic engagement, and conflict resolution.  Throughout her career, Sonal has worked with emerging young and adult leaders from all over the globe and across a few beautiful languages on programs such as the International Visitor Leadership Program, Jovenes en Accion, Youth Ambassadors of the Western Hemisphere, and the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders and Scholars.  She currently works at Arizona State University s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as a Program Coordinator, where she fosters welcoming academic environments and designs professional programs for international scholars, journalists, fellows, and students.  Sonal plans to obtain a Masters in Global Management at ASU s Thunderbird School of Global Management, with a concentration in Sustainable Solutions.  As a USAID Foreign Service Officer, she hopes to continue inspiring youth to increase their civic participation and engage in essential dialogue.  Sonal is an adventurous traveler who enjoys hiking through the National Parks, weekend getaways, Latin dancing, and exploring the local food scene with her friends and loved ones.