Sona Wang, Managing Director of the Ceres Venture Fund, is a nationally recognized venture capitalist and one of the very few women who have successfully formed and operated institutionally backed private equity funds. For over 20 years she has been a leader in the creation of specialized investment funds focused on underserved groups of entrepreneurs, namely women and minority-led start-up ventures.
During her career, Sona is proud to have mentored and financially backed some of the most visionary female company builders across a variety of industries including social media, data security, consumer services, education and healthcare.
Sona served as the co-founder and chairman of SpringBoard Midwest (2003-2007), the highly successful Investment Forum showcasing exclusively women-led businesses raising venture capital. Nationally, from 2000-2013, the forum coached and presented over 500 “Springboard” entrepreneurs who subsequently raised $6.2 billion in financing for their companies and created tens of thousands of jobs. For the regional forum Sona led the recruitment of over 250 top firms in private equity, accounting, law, management consulting, banks and media to support and participate as judges of the competition and serve as coaches to the selected women business owners in intensive boot camp style training sessions.
Sona is a civic leader. She is the current Chairman of Northwestern University’s Innovation and Inventions Office, for the last 18 years having served as a member of the NU Board of Trustees. In addition, she is currently an executive committee member of Columbia College Chicago’s Board of Trustees and serves as chairman of its Education Committee. She is a
charter board member of ChicagoNext appointed by Mayor Emanuel, and previously was chair of the Innovation and Access to Capital Committee of the Illinois State Economic Recovery Commission appointed by Governor Quinn. As a result of the work of that committee, the Illinois Angel Tax Credit and the state’s Innovations Council were formed.
Sona is also an active cultural leader working to create positive social impact through music and performing arts. Currently in the planning stage, she is a co-founder of a new world-class Blues museum and performance center in Chicago, a partnership with legendary Buddy Guy. Her efforts resulted in over $40 million in funding commitments raised for this project and attracted an elite management team of subject matter experts including the creators of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the Spy Museum in Washington, DC and the Grammy Museum in L.A.
In a related project, she is currently working with the Rolling Stones team and its International production partners to bring the Stones’ 50 Year Retrospective show called “Exhibitionism” to the US. The show’s world premiere was held in London in April 2016 and is slated to tour globally over the next four years. Previously she served as trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Children’s Choir.
Sona has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Crain’s Business, Inc. Magazine, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications for her work. She was named among “100 Most Influential Women” by Crain’s in 2004 and 2008. She was the recipient of the YWCA Leadership Award for Entrepreneurship and “Business Leader of Color” by Chicago United. She was identified as one of the “Corporate Directors to Watch” by Directors and Boards Magazine, in 2008.
Sona graduated from Stanford University Engineering School and received an MBA, magna cum laude from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.