First-generation American and Columbus, OH resident, Sophia Fifner is a survivor, mother, advocate, pageant queen, and social changemaker.
Sophia grew up in small-town Ohio. Her parents emigrated from Jamaica before she was born, raising their two children while working relentlessly to provide for their family the security and resources they themselves had lacked growing up.
As a child, Sophia attended school often as the only Black child in her class. She became acutely aware of the perceived differences her classmates projected onto her based on the color of her skin—an uneasy feeling that carried through into adulthood. Despite this, she embraced her studies and developed a passion for reading and history from an early age.
Then, in high school, the trajectory of Sophia’s life took a sudden turn. During a party she attended with a friend, Sophia experienced what she later understood to be a statistical probability that impacts one in five Black women: She was raped. And after reporting that rape, despite clear evidence proving his guilt, she watched her rapist walk away without penalty.
It was in the process of healing from this trauma that Sophia became determined to speak up for the many other women who had been in her shoes. The goal was, and remains, simple: To shift the narrative from, “Did that really happen?” and, “Are you sure you didn’t do something to cause this?” to, “I hear you, I support you, and I believe you.”
While attending college, Sophia found an unexpected platform for her mission in the pageant world. In 2009 and 2010, Sophia made her way into the top five finalists in the running for Miss District of Columbia. Shortly thereafter, she launched a career in philanthropy and public policy, working first on Capitol Hill as Staff Assistant under Senator George Voinovich from 2008 to 2010. It was in this role that she became passionate about developing strategies to advance social impact.
From there, Sophia became more deeply involved in fundraising and public relations as PAC and Campaign Finance Manager at Nationwide and, later, as Director of Corporate Philanthropy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In total, she has amassed over 15 years of experience in public relations,, philanthropy, and public policy.
Today, Sophia works for NiSource—one of the largest natural gas utility companies in the United States—as Director of Communications and Executive Director of the NiSource Charitable Foundation.
She also serves on the Survivor Advisory Council of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Board of Directors of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, and is an alumna of the Jo Ann Davidson Leadership Institute. She’s a graduate of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs’ NEW Leadership program and a member of the Columbus CEO Future 50 Class of 2021.
Sophia resides with her husband and two daughters, Caroline and Hannah Grace, in northwest Columbus, Ohio.
Get to Know Her
Breakfast of choice?
Lucky Charms (two bowls > one)
Every character in Clueless
Cats or dogs?
Dogs! Especially my standard poodle, George Washington
Ideal vacation spot?
Cabin in the woods