Mary Sonke - Career Speaker

Mary’s career path has been anything but conventional. Born and raised in Hamilton Ontario, Canada, Mary grew up with a deep love and interest in others. As a child readily spent time learning about people through observation and conversation.  Indeed, her first grade teacher noted on Mary’s report card that Mary was a “chatterbox, with a great gift of gab”. Perhaps not surprising, social work seemed like a natural fit for her interests and quickly became the area of focus in high school. The next several years of education and internships allowed Mary to clarify her area of focus. To explore her passion for social justice Mary completed a Social Service Worker diploma at Niagara College in 1992, and then took a job as a Crisis Worker in a domestic violence organization. Over the years that followed, Mary worked in a variety of crisis-oriented positions where her interest in trauma and its impact on health only grew.  In 1999, Mary moved with her family to Philadelphia PA to continue her education at Temple University.  In 2003, she completed her Bachelor's in Social Work.

While working as a Crisis Response Worker one Saturday morning in 2005, Mary had an experience that would change the entire trajectory of her career.  From that moment forward, she realized that as a macro social worker,  addressing the source of an issue as opposed to a micro social worker who helps one person at a time, she could increase her impact on society. However, before she could dive into macro social work, she needed to head back to the classroom. While in graduate school at Temple University, Mary studied macro social work, focusing on communities, systems, and policy.  She also took a position as the Director of Education and Training at A Woman’s Place in Doylestown, PA where she worked for several years. During that time, Mary researched, designed, implemented, and evaluated the organization’s education and training programs, and was the lead for a statewide Medical Advocacy and Trauma Informed Medical Care project.

In 2009, Mary became a Health Initiatives Representative, Community Physician Liaison with The American Cancer Society. There she managed several school, government, and corporate accounts, increasing support, participation and sponsorship by more than 50% within two years. Mary helped to create unique community partnership opportunities including education curriculums later adopted by local school districts.

After graduating from Temple University in 2014, Mary was offered a position as a Senior Project Manager at Fox Chase Cancer Center: truly a dream job. At Fox Chase, she currently works in the Partners and Care Connect programs, manages several ongoing projects and serves as a member of the institutional review board. Mary’s responsibilities also include collaborations with smaller community cancer centers and primary care practices. Though her team at Fox Chase is small, they are mighty, and work tirelessly to improve services for cancer patients throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Mary has held this position for several years, and is extremely fortunate to be able to bring her passion of trauma-informed care and oncology to the forefront, and if all goes as planned, Fox Chase will become one of the only oncology centers in the country to be trauma informed. While social work is at the core of every job Mary has held, her focus of macro social work, project management, and business development has led her to a position which is not only lucrative, but personally and professionally fulfilling, and one where she knows that she is truly making a difference. (Having that gift of gab hasn’t hurt either.)