Sonya R. Jacobs

Special Advisor to the President and
Chief Organizational Learning Officer
University of Michigan
Senior Director, Faculty and Leadership Development
University of Michigan Medical School

Sonya Jacobs has been newly appointed as special advisor to the president. Her role is to advise the president and executive leadership of the university and to help lead the university’s efforts on cultural change regarding ethics, values and compliance.

Additionally, Sonya is the chief organizational learning officer for the University of Michigan and the senior director for faculty and leadership development at Michigan Medicine. As U-M’s first chief organizational learning officer, she is responsible for creating curricula and strategies to build the capabilities of staff, faculty and leaders across the university. This includes the development of education, training, interventions and programs to further the university’s initiatives around creating an inclusive and equitable environment.

As the senior director for faculty and leadership development, she is responsible for supporting faculty in achieving their professional and career goals, the recruitment, on-boarding and retention of a diverse faculty, and leadership development for both faculty and staff.

Sonya oversees strategic planning and implementation of organization-wide career and leadership development, as well as coaching and mentoring support. Her dual appointment allows her to spot opportunities to strengthen collaboration, identify available resources, and replicate best practices across all three campuses and Michigan Medicine. In addition, she holds a leadership role for the design and implementation of a new leadership development framework and succession planning process across the health system.

Sonya is the co-founder of the Leadership Summit for Women in Academic Medicine and Healthcare and the Rudi Ansbacher Women in Academic Medicine Leadership Scholars Program. She also founded the Executive Coaching Certification program at Michigan Medicine.

She serves on the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership Advisory Board, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) and the Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA). Additionally, Sonya served on the state of Michigan’s Implicit Bias Training Rules Advisory Workgroup. Her responsibilities included promulgating rules to establish implicit bias training standards for all health professionals in Michigan and to ensure such training can be facilitated in a meaningful and impactful way.

Sonya was awarded the Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence award in 2020, which celebrates local African American women who inspire others through their vision and leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service.  She was also chosen by the Academic Women’s Caucus as one of the recipients of the 2020-2021 Sarah Goddard Power Distinguished Service Award.

Sonya is a native of Detroit, Michigan and holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Michigan State University and a master of science degree in human resources and organizational development from Eastern Michigan University.