Sonja Claxton has always known what she’s passionate about, and now, as the Organizational Wellness Manager for Common Market, she has the title to prove it.
Earlier this year, Claxton was working at a health research company in Wayne. She liked her job, but felt disconnected from her roots in social and environmental sustainability.
Sonja Claxton, Organizational Wellness Manager, Common MarketWhile studying international business and economics at Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management, she founded the student organization Students for Responsible Business, which later became Net Impact. She also pushed to make a business ethics class standardized business school curriculum. Now, Claxton “wanted to bring my network into my job.”
Mirroring her work at Temple, Claxton and a coworker co-founded a sustainability awareness group in the office, where they helped colleagues recognize the negative effects of wasteful workplace activities and the benefit of using resources wisely.
“I didn’t feel I was a valuable asset to my company until I started to use my knowledge of the sustainability and health and wellness world to show leaders that sustainability practices are more effective than they think,” she says.
Claxton’s office sustainability leadership (which was not a part of her regular job duties, but something she did simply because she was passionate about the issues), expanded when she discovered DVFS in 2011. She knew the program had to be a part of her office health and wellness program, and she volunteered to be the site coordinator. “But I didn’t stop with organizing the farm share deliveries,” says Claxton. “On off weeks, I arranged for health and sustainability speakers to come speak with our group.”
Claxton had organically become a workplace wellness and sustainability advocate for her company and, in January, decided to officially brand herself as such. Seeing a need for sustainability experts like herself within socially responsible businesses, Claxton placed an advertisement in the 2013 Sustainable Business Network Directory (distributed with Grid Magazine), seeking a corporate social responsibility position.
Common Market got to her first.
“We had thought of Sonja for the role of Organizational Wellness Manager long before the ad,” says Tatiana Garcia-Granados, Founder and Executive Director of Common Market. “She is so dynamic and passionate. Our program was new, but she understood the value of it. More than that, she understood how to customize it for the corporate setting. Everyone who talks to her wants to participate.”
Claxton is also an Advisory Committee Member for Get Healthy Philadelphia, an initiative of the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health. Having grown up in the city, Claxton understands the disconnect for city dwellers to their food. “It’s real and I experienced it,” she says. “For me to provide my five-year-old daughter with fresh food is an amazing feat.”
This summer, Claxton will not only keep her daughter eating well, but ensure that 35 site coordinators have all the tools that they need to make DVFS a success. Though Claxton’s work will affect close to a thousand Philadelphia professionals, she shows that, really, sustainability can start with just one.