Sonat Birnecker Hart spent over a decade as a full professor in both the United States and Germany, including being granted the Walter Benjamin Chair of German Jewish Cultural History at Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2008, she gave up tenure to co-found the internationally award winning distillery, KOVAL. As its president, she has spearheaded product development, distribution, and marketing. Sonat also co-founded Kothe Distilling Technologies, a distillery start-up consulting firm. For her efforts in the distilling industry, she was recently inducted into the Disciples d’Escoffier and named by the USA Small Business Association, Illinois Small Business Person of the Year.
Sonat has always been passionate about Jewish culture and activism. While in Germany, she helped organize Limmud in Berlin, and has served as a volunteer cantor at both Beth Boruk Temple in Richmond, Indiana, and Or Chadash in Vienna, Austria. Sonat was a founding member and chairwoman of Koldor, and a member of the WJC, Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JDCorps) since its inception. She is currently serving as the President of the Steering Committee of the JDCorps.