The Team

Stephanie Sonnabend

Chair and Co-Founder

Stephanie Sonnabend is a proven leader and experienced board member of public, private and non-profit boards. As CEO and President of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, she led a publicly held (NASDAQ) hospitality management and franchise company through numerous business cycles, with Sonesta branded hotels, resorts, suites and Nile cruises located in the United States, Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, The Netherlands, Italy and throughout the Caribbean and Bermuda.

After the sale of the company in January 2012, Stephanie remained with the new company until July 2013 and spearheaded the rebranding of 21 hotels in six months. Her accomplishments included launching a new extended stay brand and developing the renovation scope and design focus for all Sonesta Hotels. Today Stephanie is a principal with Son Hospitality (SonHos) Consulting providing big picture thinking with practical solutions focused on the hospitality and travel industries.

Stephanie currently serves on the Board of Directors of Century Bank and Trust and Century Bancorp, where she is a member of the Audit Committee and chairs the Asset Liability Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, a commercial real estate franchisor. She has chaired numerous committees (facilities, marketing, strategic planning, nominating, governmental affairs) on higher education boards of trustees and on association and governmental boards. Her professional memberships include World Presidents Organization, Women Corporate Directors, Massachusetts Women’s Forum, and The Boston Club.

In 2010, Stephanie co-founded 2020 Women on Boards. She is an inspirational speaker educating audiences about what a board does, why diversity is important and how to advance your career and prepare for board service.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Stephanie received her master’s degree from M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management.

Malli Gero

Co-Founder and President

Malli Gero is Co-founder and President of 2020 Women on Boards. She served as Executive Director until August 2014.

Before launching 2020 Women on Boards, Malli had a long career in marketing communications and public relations. She was principal of Gero Communications, a boutique PR firm founded in 1985, specializing in B2B, non-profit and hospitality sectors, and worked as an account executive for public relations agencies in New York and Boston.

Malli is an active community volunteer. She was appointed to the Mayor's Commission on Women in June 2014 and serves on the board of More Than Words, an innovative social enterprise. She is past chair and president of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation in Brookline, MA.

She also served on the boards of the Brookline Educational Foundation, Ruggles Street Mission Hill Day Care Center, a division of Associated Day Care Services of Greater Boston, and Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline. She lives in Jamaica Plain, MA with her husband, Michael.

Carolyn Assa

Executive Director

Carolyn Assa is the Executive Director of 2020 Women on Boards.

Prior to joining our team, Carolyn worked as a high-level marketing and communications executive; and, before that as an award-winning television producer, print journalist and children’s book author.  A results-driven strategist with creative vision, she has led successful high-profile branding initiatives and is known for executing successful local, national and international campaigns that have impact.

At Perkins School for the Blind, she won a Federal Communications Commission contract, worth $1.5 million, to market the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, and developed iCanConnect to promote it. She launched, and served as Editor-in-Chief of, Perkins Perspectives. While at Bunker Hill Community College, she led a branding initiative that resulted in a new logo, new messaging and the creation of the award-winning publication, BHCC Magazine.  Her marketing efforts drove enrollment up by 15% a semester.  At ABC, she spearheaded the launch of “A Better Community;” wrote/produced public service announcements; worked with 225+ ABC stations to market, brand and promote the initiative, and, to develop community outreach partnerships; served as editor of a public service area on ABC.com; and, initiated crossover promotions with divisions of ABC and its parent, the Walt Disney Company.

Before that, she worked in local media: television—WBZ, WCVB, and WHDH in Boston, WJAR in Providence, and NBC NewsChannel in Charlotte, NC; radio—WBZ and WEEI I Boston; and, print—Boston Herald, Boston Business Journal, and Metrowest Daily News.

Breanna Bakke

Assistant Director

Breanna Bakke is the Assistant Director of 2020 Women on Boards. 

Breanna brings extensive knowledge of women’s leadership issues, and is an advocate for gender equality. She was elected co-chair of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (MWPC) Young Professional Leadership Board in March 2015 and serves on the 2020 Women on Boards/Boston Campaign Committee. Her memberships include Boston CARES, Forté Foundation, IVY, and Levo League.

Breanna is also an assistant project director with YPO - Young Presidents' Organization, where she provides logistical support for national and international business events. Prior to joining 2020, Breanna interned at Morgan Stanley and the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, where she built a statewide race-tracking database.

Breanna graduated from Bentley University with a B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Global Perspectives. Her senior thesis focused on the role of U.S. Congresswomen in the passage of human trafficking policy.

Evelyn Garrity

Administrative Intern

Evelyn Garrity is the administrative intern for 2020 Women on Boards. Evelyn is a Masters student at Boston College pursuing a degree in British and American Literature. She is involved with several clubs at Boston College, including the English Association and the Appalachia Service Volunteers, and she teaches tennis lessons to adults and children at the campus recreation complex.

Evelyn aspires to hone her analytical writing skills and publish her research on women in eighteenth-century literature. She is excited to be a member of the 2020 Women on Boards' team and contribute to the pursuit of gender equality in the workforce.

Krystina Novello

Researcher

Krystina Novello is a Researcher for 2020 Women on Boards. She is a recent graduate from Boston College where she received a B.A. in Economics. While at Boston College, Krystina took courses relating to gender inequality, and completed an economic research report that assessed the correlations between business success and company diversity.


Krystina now lives in the greater New York City area and works for AXA Equitable as a Lead Associate and Investment Product Specialist. She is excited to continue her support for the campaign and the cause through research, while pursuing a career in the financial services industry.