By Liz Sullivan
Amid the backdrop of the San Jose Convention Center, Notre Dame High School San Jose hosted its signature event on October 5 with the Women of Impact Luncheon.
Kelly Powell Bruno, Class of 1988, was the Alumna Honoree and Lisa Sobrato Sonsini the Community Honoree in the ninth year of the event.
“Notre Dame is proud to recognize Lisa Sobrato Sonsini and Kelly Powell Bruno as the 2017 Women of Impact,” said Principal Mary Beth Riley. “Both of these women exemplify the characteristics that we foster at Notre Dame. They are intelligent women of strength, compassion and vision who have brought about change in their communities.”
The Women of Impact Luncheon spotlights the role women have played in history, recognizes and celebrates those making significant contributions to society today, and showcases the regional and global impact of developing meaningful and integrated learning programs for young women.
Bruno is president and CEO of the National Health Foundation. An experienced social service and healthcare professional, she leads a team of motivated professionals to address community needs by developing and implementing innovative and systemic solutions to gaps in the healthcare delivery system. Also, Bruno is passionate about designing and implementing programs that focus on healthcare system delivery change and insuring the uninsured population.
“It’s not important what degree you have,” said Bruno. “All that matters is the vision you share. Our healthcare industry needs young people like those you see at Notre Dame. We have to start thinking upstream and thinking long term. We need to make an investment in our future. Thank you very much for this honor.”
Sonsini serves as board president of the Sobrato Family Foundation, which she established in 1996 as a vehicle for multiple generations of the Sobrato family to unify their philanthropic giving for maximum impact. Under her leadership, the Sobrato Family Foundation has grown tenfold in both assets and annual giving. For more than 25 years, Sonsini has been an advocate for the rights of disadvantaged youth in both the educational and foster care systems. In addition, she works passionately as a catalyst for civic engagement among many of the rising leaders in Silicon Valley.
One of three children of John A. and Sue Sobrato, Sonsini focused her acceptance speech on her grandmother Ann Sobrato, known to some as the “Mother of Silicon Valley,” or as she was known to Sonsini “Grannie Ann.”
After her husband died in 1952, Mrs. Sobrato was forced to sell an acre of farm land in Atherton to support herself and her family. She took the money she made from the sale and invested in another property. That led Mrs. Sobrato to start the real estate development business that later evolved into the family-run Sobrato Development Co. Among her biggest were projects for Lockhead, Memorex and Kaiser Electronics. She handed the family business over to her son John A. in the 1960’s and devoted herself to charity.
“She was quite devoted to public service and the inspiration to formalize our family giving,” said Sonsini. “She was a true Woman of Impact because she did something with that passion. She persevered. She had a nurturing spirit that was fair and just. She had confidence and a drive to give back. She also had a vision and was always able to see the big picture. I love that Notre Dame educates women to hear these same voices.
“We can’t put blinders on. We have a responsibility in our diverse community to do something. We have to get out of our comfort zone.
“I am honored to be a part of this celebration. Thank you for this honor in celebrating the women of tomorrow.”