Soneela began her career at a very young age as a performer and creator in socially engaged devised and improvised theatre. She went on to become a classically trained theatre performer, garnering an MFA from Columbia University and performing in regional theatre, television and film. Concurrently, Soneela continued to gain extensive experience working in devising and community-engaged processes as a member of nationally recognized theatre company, Sojourn Theatre.
In addition to her artistic work, Soneela has a background in economics and arts management spanning 12 years. She earned a BA in Economics from University of Pennsylvania and went on to hold roles in producing, marketing and finance for several arts and non-arts organizations. Most recently, she served as Managing Director for Sojourn Theatre for 6 years.
Soneela is a co-founder of Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP), an organization that supports the efforts of artists looking to use their artistic assets to transform systems and improve the impacts of government and community-driven efforts and programs. She served as Managing Director of CPCP for 6 years and Executive Director for 2 years. As Executive Director, Soneela led CPCP’s efforts toward impact-driven programming and sustainable organizational practices as well as guiding the organization’s endeavors to clearly articulate its commitment to racial equity and justice in its mission, values and work.
In an effort to nourish her artistic side and remain connected to the performing arts, Soneela also works as an audiobook narrator. She narrates stories and historical narratives that reflect her values and beliefs, such as Wade and Cheryl Hudson’s “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices” and Augusto Lopez-Claros and Bahiyyih Nakhjavani’s “Equality for Women = Prosperity for All”. She has over 200 titles to date and has garnered 13 Earphone awards, an Audie nomination and a SOVAS nomination. Her audiobooks have been included in Best Audiobooks lists by AudioFile Magazine (2016, 2019, 2020) and The Washington Post (2018, 2020).
Soneela left CPCP, in March 2020, intent on centering her practice around issues of inclusion and racial equity. She feels that her particular positionality - having grown up in the US, the child of immigrants, being of East Indian and West African heritage, a classically trained artist, an accomplished arts administrator educated in Economics - gives her a unique perspective and a vast set of tools to dedicate to EDI consulting in the arts and nonprofit fields.