Kristen Sonday is the founder of Paladin, an online platform that connects legal professionals to pro bono opportunities, and was also a member of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and 1871’s first cohort of their joint accelerator program. She was chosen from 45 applicants to serve as the 2017 EIR, focusing on diversity and inclusion efforts in the entrepeneurship community.
The EIR program is facilitated by CODE2040 through the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network which connects 1871 to dozens of tech hubs globally -- (11 of these hubs are in North America.)
"I'm honored to be selected and for the opportunity to help increase diversity in Chicago's tech community. Through my day-to-day work at Paladin, I strive to serve underrepresented groups and provide access to opportunities they might not have otherwise. Similarly, I'm excited to be able to introduce new, diverse entrepreneurs to 1871's robust resources through the EIR role and to help spread the resources of 1871 throughout the city of Chicago."
Sonday will begin her six-month residency at 1871 on April 1. She will succeed Thomas K.R. Stovall, who was the second EIR at 1871. Stovall is the Founder and President of Candid Cup, a micro-feedback platform that can monitor and track feedback from a specific location, employee, event, department or initiative. He is also the creator of ImBlackInTech, a Chicago-based series of business amplification events meant to accelerate growth for tech entrepreneurs and professionals of color.
“We are so glad to welcome Kristen as this year’s EIR,” said Tom Alexander, 1871’s COO. “Inclusion is a part of everything we do at 1871, and Kristen will help more people and perspectives become part of this vibrant community."
“As we enter our third year working with CODE2040 on the EIR program, we continue to be inspired working alongside these amazing entrepreneurs to build great companies around the country,” said Genna Mckeel, Partnerships Manager at Google for Entrepreneurs. “As we know at Google, innovation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but is stronger when it’s part of an ecosystem of passionate people, bold ideas and intelligent risk taking. To succeed, we need to draw from a diverse group of people who have access to the networks and resources to bring their ideas to life.”
CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization that seeks to create access, awareness and opportunities for underrepresented minorities. The EIR program is an outgrowth of CODE2040’s partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs, and allows CODE2040 to provide each EIR with:
- $40,000 in seed capital to help grow their business (no equity asked for in return)
- Work space in a tech hub like 1871 for the EIR and his or her team
- A trip to the Googleplex in Silicon Valley for training and networking with Google and CODE2040
- Mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs in the Google for Entrepreneurs and CODE2040 networks
- Support from CODE2040 on the creation of community impact through diversity, inclusion, and community building events throughout the year
The EIR opportunity is the latest element of the ongoing partnership between Google for Entrepreneurs and 1871. Google for Entrepreneurs enables tech hubs by providing them with technical content, business tools and infrastructure upgrades so that they can support increasing demand from developers and startups. In addition to 1871 in Chicago, Google for Entrepreneurs has backed North American tech hubs in Minneapolis, Waterloo, Ont., Atlanta, Nashville, Durham, Denver, Detroit, Montreal, Que., San Francisco, Austin and Mexico City.
Google for Entrepreneurs provides a range of programming, events and support to each of its North American Tech Hubs, as well as a number of special opportunities to startups within the hubs. Each year, startups are selected directly from the hubs to pitch their companies to an audience of Silicon Valley investors as part of the Google Demo Day. Members also have the opportunity to participate in the Blackbox Connect programs that occur throughout the year, as well as Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange programs that occur around the world. 1871 and Google for Entrepreneurs are now in their 5th year of partnership.