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Multicultural Leadership Institute co-founder Sonya Mau named Normal Citizen of the Year

Sonya Mau
Ryan Denham
Sonya Mau was recognized at Wednesday’s Town of Normal Appreciation Reception by Mayor Chris Koos.

One of the co-founders of the Multicultural Leadership Institute has been named Normal’s 2022 Citizen of the Year.

Sonya Mau was recognized at Wednesday’s Town of Normal Appreciation Reception.

Multicultural Leadership Institute, founded in 2009, recently enrolled its 14th class of participants, with its graduates going on to serve the community in ways big and small.

Mau said its participants are challenged to explore who they are, and they get the courage to stand up and speak and make a difference in the community.

“You have to work hard to understand yourself. But it’s easier to understand yourself if you’re surrounded by people who have a different culture. They’ll ask you, ‘Why did you say that?’ And you’ll have to say to yourself, ‘I think I said that because my Dad told me to.’ And they’ll say, ‘Well, my Dad never said that.’ We have a different philosophy,” Mau said.

Mau, who is retired from Country Financial, has also served in volunteer leadership roles for the United Way of McLean County, YWCA McLean County, and the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington Normal, among others. Mau is a charter member of the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation’s Woman to Woman Fund and the United Way of McLean County’s Women United group.

Mau has lived in Normal for 50 years but has lived and studied all over the country and world.

Mayor Chris Koos surprised Mau with the Citizen of the Year honor at Wednesday’s reception.

“Her passion for this program and helping people find and develop their leadership skills will pay it forward in our community for years to come,” Koos said. “A co-founder of Multicultural Leadership Institute, Sonya contributed greatly to its success as an ever-evolving a program that develops leaders with the courage to make a positive difference. As our communities continue to grow and evolve, it’s more important than ever people volunteer to help shape the community of today for the residents of tomorrow.”

Learn more about Mau in the audio story above.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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