Sheila Sonnenschein has been working to build relationships between people of different faiths and cultures since 2002. She is a past chair and vice-chair of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. In addition to planning a variety of multi-faith programs for the Council and beyond, she served as an advisor and board member of the KC Interfaith Youth Alliance, an interfaith youth group inspired by the work of Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago. She also mentored the teens to plan multiple peace walks.
In 2007 and 2014, Sheila and her husband, Ken, rode 300 miles on their tandem, from Jerusalem to Eilat, Israel to raise money for the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies. The Arava Institute brings Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis, North Americans, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and people from around the world together to do research on the environment, which in turn, enables them to get to know “the other.” It is this “soft power” that Sheila looks to for hope that peace will spread throughout the region.
Sheila has been active in the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom since 2014. She helped start the first KC chapter, which was one of the first 10 Sisterhood chapters! Subsequently, she helped other chapters get started; chaired three Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom trips; and is a regional coordinator for the MOKAN Heartland Region.
Sheila enjoys gardening, making challah, traveling, owning and driving fully electric cars (!), and hosting people from around the world for dinner (when there isn’t a pandemic!). Sheila and Ken are the proud parents of four grown children.