Sonya Funna Evelyn
Senior Director, Programs and Innovation Department
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
Born in Sierra Leone, Sonya Funna Evelyn was just 8 years old when her family immigrated to the United States for her father’s job at The World Bank. Years later, civil war broke out in the African nation and she knew friends and family who were trying and needing to escape as she was studying at George Mason University.
“It was just a matter of circumstance that made our lives so different,” she said. “I could have potentially ended up in a similar situation to them had we not left Sierra Leone to move to the United States. It was that need to make an impact and really to help those that are in situations they are in just because of circumstance” that drove her into the nonprofit sector to effectuate change.
For the past decade, she has worked at Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). Starting as a technical adviser for health, she rose through the nonprofit, serving as senior technical adviser for primary and emergency health, director of the Program Technical Support Unit and up to her current position as Senior Director for Programs and Innovation Department.
“I have seen the work of nonprofits and I can stand by the work of ADRA,” she said. “I see it. I go to the communities. I talk to people and they say, ‘But for you guys, we would not have had opportunity.’ ‘But for you guys, our children may have died.’ ‘But for you guys, we may have not been able to send our kids to school.’ Just really seeing that change and impact keeps me at ADRA. … It is really part of my calling to do this (type) of work.”
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