Stephanie Sonnabend

Stephanie Sonnabend is a proven leader, inspirational speaker and creative strategist. As CEO and President of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, she led a publicly held (NASDAQ) hospitality management and franchise company through numerous business cycles, with Sonesta branded hotels, resorts, suites and Nile cruises located in the United States, Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, The Netherlands, Italy and throughout the Caribbean and Bermuda. Sonnabend knows how to effectively operate hotels, assess the management team and develop a hotel or corporate culture that generates loyalty, innovation and hospitality. Her creative strategic thinking will assist clients with leadership, operations product improvement or other current challenges.

Sonnabend has a great ability to assess a situation quickly, develop strong personal relationships and offer a clearly defined roadmap to achieve success. She demonstrated this most recently when she spearheaded the rebranding of 21 hotels in six months, including launching a new extended stay brand and developing the renovation scope and design focus for all Sonesta Hotels.

In 2010, Sonnabend co-founded 2020 Women on Boards, a national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20 percent or greater by the year 2020. Today the campaign is rapidly spreading throughout the United States providing education and advocacy strategies designed to encourage change.

Sonnabend currently serves on the board of Century Bank and Century Bancorp, a $3.4 billion commercial bank and Sperry van Ness, a commercial real estate franchise organization.

Career Highlights

  • 35 years of hospitality experience utilizing both a big picture and hands on approach
  • Created a strong culture resulting in long-term dedicated employees at all levels of the organization
  • Proven leader in crisis management including terrorism and political unrest in Egypt, locating 600 employees after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and right sizing the organization after 9/11
  • Implemented innovative ideas such as personal service managers, virtual concierge and environmental consciousness in Egypt
  • Grew company internationally, especially in South America and Egypt

Education – Articles – Awards

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Stephanie Sonnabend received her master’s degree from M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. She has written articles and been quoted in numerous publications on hospitality and women’s leadership. She is an inspirational speaker educating audiences about what a board does, why diversity in important and how to advance your career and prepare for board service. Sonnabend’s awards include:

  • Harvard Club Boston Women of Influence, 2013
  • New England Family Business award, 2012
  • YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers award, 2005
  • Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts 2004 -2011