Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart
Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart, a former Walter Benjamin Chair of German Jewish Cultural History at Humboldt University in Berlin, left academia in 2008 to found KOVAL Distillery, America’s most widely distributed independent craft distillery with over 50 international awards and international distribution to 55 export markets. As KOVAL's president, she has spearheaded product development, distribution, and marketing. Sonat has also co-founded Kothe Distilling Technologies, adistillery start-up consulting firm. Sonat is a member of the Chicago DEC (District Export Council) and has been awarded both Illinois Small Business Person of the Year (2017) and Illinois Exporter of the Year (2017). She was recently inducted into the international culinary association, Disciples d’Escoffier for her development of a new school of American Whiskey that uses only the heart cut of the distillate. In addition to her business accolades, she is currently serving as the President of the Diplomatic Corps (JDCorps) of the World Jewish Congress and serves on the board of North Branch Works, dedicated to job creation and economic development along the North Branch of the Chicago river.