Leader Spotlight: Sonja Little-Cochren

October 27, 2023
Emmaline Giles

Ms. Sonja Little-Cochren

Member of New Sunnymount Missionary Baptist Church

“Leadership is working with a team of people, not just yourself, and its about the mission, vision, and goals you want to accomplish collectively.”

Ms. Sonja Little-Cochren

Listen to why she does the work!

Ms. Sonja first learned about MCU in 2015 when former Director of the Break to School to Prison Pipeline, Rev. Dietra Wise Baker, began to work with her congregation, New Sunnymount MBC. Their first action was helping folks in their community register to vote. Ms. Sonja immediately got involved because she worked in the field during her early 20s while living in the Hyde Park area. 

As a St. Louis native, Ms. Sonja has built such a strong community that “when [she] asks for help, they show up.” She shared that her “mother taught her how to treat people to trust and respect you.” At the heart of leadership, Ms. Sonja’s experience has shown her that “you got to be a humble individual [and] sit at all the chairs of the table to empathize with all the parts of the table- not just the front.” She stresses the understanding that she is a team of many playing but one part in a team of individuals to achieve so many signatures this past summer for MCU’s current state-wide ballot initiative to raise the wage & ensure earned paid sick leave- Missourians for Healthy Families and Fair Wages.

Check Out her Signature Collection Team Members!

Through the numerous conversations she had with neighbors, she learned personal stories of neighbors living off of $5 to $7 an hour with just a few tips working in the restaurant industry, for example. In reflection, she shares that “it's just sad we have people working in the legislature making $72k a year. $7/hr is not a living wage - it’s slavery. People she meets are so excited that somebody is championing for them to have a better life. 

Reflecting on why she continues to actively canvass her neighborhood today, she shares that she loves to talk to people to make sure people know that somebody cares for them. “Meeting people is a blessing and I can talk to anybody-especially those who don’t know they should (vote)- to get them to change their minds because it's so important to vote.” She prides seeing her work with MCU akin to John Lewis’s famous quote, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” “I have been in trouble a lot and this is GOOD TROUBLE that we are doing.”

Her main message to her neighbors is toget involved- that when you see something that is not right, you got to stand up for those who are marginalized and silenced. You can't sit on the sidelines and think others will do it. Don't wait on somebody else to do it, you do it. You can't sit back and say you don't have anything to do. People are voting whether you do or not- if you don’t, you send a message to the other parties that you don’t care, and don’t care to have a say in your rights.”

In addition to her support of voter engagement, Ms. Sonja stays active at our Monthly Membership Meetings and volunteers her time for initiatives around the unhoused and prison re-entry multiple times a week. In reflecting on what this work means to her, she shared that it “is joy, this is therapy, there is hope.”

MCU puts faith into action by developing leaders who move their congregations, organizations and communities to change public policy for the common good.
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