Sheila Sonnenschein was born and raised in Kansas City. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Kansas before moving to the Washington, DC area with her husband, Ken. There she started the Northern VA chapter of the Parent Education Network and helped organize educational programs for Friends of the National Zoo. After moving to St. Louis, Sonnenschein and her husband started the Mitzvah Garden where volunteers planted, weeded and harvested produce for those in need. Sonnenschein was a parent educator with Our Jewish Home, making visits to Jewish families, teaching and facilitating Jewish practices in the home.
Now living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and four children, Sonnenschein is a community advocate and freelance writer. She started the Table to Table program for Yachad, the Kosher food pantry. Donors use centerpieces for celebrations. The donation helps buy food for the pantry, which supports people in need, regardless of their faith.
Most recently, Sonnenschein has been involved in bridging different faith communities. She helped form the Kansas City Women’s Interfaith Circle; co-chaired the Table of Faiths Luncheon in 2006 and 2007; has been a member of the Festival of Faiths committee since 2007; chaired Peace by Piece featuring Noa Baum in September 2005; and was a committee member of Salaam/Shalom, a gathering of over 500 people in 2005 and 2006. Through the International Visitors Council, Sonnenschein and her husband have hosted delegates from around the world.
In addition to being an at-large member on the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, Sonnenschein is the first non-Muslim board member of the Crescent Peace Society, a former board member of the National Council of Jewish Women and a former board member of the Kansas City Press Club. Her articles have been published in The Catholic Reporter, Outlook Magazine, The New Light, Being Jewish, Suburban Journal of St. Louis, The Kansas City Star, and, the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle.
Sonnenschein received the Peace Award from the Crescent Peace Society in 2005, the YWCA’s Heart of Gold Award for Racial Justice in 2006, and an award from Al-Inshirah Mosque in 2007. She enjoys gardening, cycling, and making Challah, the Jewish Sabbath bread, each week. She and her family are members of Congregation Beth Shalom.