Sonali is the founder and visionary behind Dreamcatchers. After completing her Post-graduation from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy, Sonali was introduced to grassroots social movements in India while she worked to establish the People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human rights in the early 1990’s. This pioneering fact finding body comprising retired judges of the Indian courts, supported by the Environmental groups of India continues to date to investigate infringement of environmental norms and human rights lapses within civil society. Its reports are used by the groups to advocate for policy shifts or bring those responsible for violations into the realm of judicial procedure. This experience forms the bedrock of Sonali’s politics of social justice and a deep commitment to enabling participation and being heard.
Life clearly had a tryst planned with street children and discovering a world earlier unknown to her. Working with drug using runaways, girls rescued from commercial sex work and domestic work, Sonali was struck by the intensity of their pain and the wisdom in their life. Their wisdom was compelling; inviting her again and again to listen once more, a little more deeply and understand. They became her teachers in understanding the inner world; its myriad hues and depths, its paradoxes, its search and longing for feeling whole and complete. They introduced her to meditation, the power of hope and intention, holding faith and anchoring in unstinting belief against all odds. No one could have asked for a better caravan of spiritual guides!
Over time they helped her define her role in their lives; as one who was meant to create, hold and foster space without judgment and the deep belief that in midst of all the inner chaos and the pain; the voice to support and nourish life and dreams could be heard and strengthened. Working with runaways taught Sonali to appreciate unstructured work hours, think in open spaces, flow, learn that home is where you stand, right here , right now; that nothing can work as brilliantly as humor to dissolve a tough moment and good food to bring a beaming smile that reaches the eyes.
As time passed, it became clear that this was life's work and so Dreamcatchers was born in 2001. Sonali is also an Ashoka Fellow and was elected the First International Fellow at Global Fund for Children, Washington DC, USA. She serves on the Boards of a diverse range of non-profits such as ArtSewa in USA, Thoughtshop in Kolkata and Point of View, in Mumbai.
Her filmography includes In The Flesh: Three Lives in Prostitution and Taza Khabar: Hot Off The Press. She is currently writing Selling Sex, a book on the struggle for sex workers' rights in India. She is on the boards of several non-profits, including CREA, Breakthrough, Majlis, and the Wikimedia Foundation.
She is also a trustee of Vivekananda Youth Forum, a non-profit organization, founded on the principles of Swami Vivekananda. She has been a trustee of Dreamcatchers Foundation since inception and has been greatly inspired by its path breaking healing work with young people. As a Trustee she has helped in facilitating its financial systems.
Currently she is AVP Buying on Reckitt Benckiser at Vivaki Exchange in Delhi, where she is responsible for RBIL’s media buying strategy and negotiations, experiential advertising opportunities, research and business intelligence, media relations, and MIS.
Sunetra holds a Masters in Economics (International Trade and Finance) from the University of Bombay. She is an avid amateur photographer (seldom leaving home without her camera), a voracious reader and an English movie buff.