Welcome

We founded Sonzia because we intimately feel the importance of providing for those differently abled. Our team works tirelessly to deliver technology that is not only accessible, but purposeful for our users. We find inspiration in our Junior Founders:our true test quality, and our harshest critics. 

A message from our founder

       My name is Shirley; I am one of the founders of Sonzia. I would like to introduce my sister, Donna, she is an artist at Gateway Crafts, participates in the Special Olympics “Bowling and Track & Field,” and has Down’s Syndrome. For the first part of her life, our family thought she was deaf.  Donna’s biggest joy was rocking to music. She worked in a workshop stuffing envelops.

       Then at age 41, an amazing audiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital diagnosed her hearing and all our lives completely changed. Donna received hearing aids and attended speech therapy at Emerson College. We found out she is an artist. I watched joyfully as Donna learned how to speak, and get use to life sounds. When we developed Touch Easel, Donna was the first to use it. We were thrilled at her ability to operate it so easily; she watched a Sesame Street video over and over.  Now she expects everything to be touch.

       Donna’s story is not unique, millions of people need assistive technologies to connect the dots to simple things in life. Inaccessible technology is the norm for many people with physical, cognitive, or learning disabilities who can’t use smartphones and tablets to email, call, text, or video chat with their loved ones. The design of these technologies excludes a large and diverse population of individuals who lack the physical and cognitive abilities required to successfully operate them.

       I love my sister dearly, and want to share my family’s success with you. I founded Sonzia to provide useful, empowering tools that a vast array of people can use to work, learn, connect, play and create. Donna’s vivacity and positive attitude motivate the entire Sonzia team as we work to develop and deliver the best technology for all abilities.

Meet Our Team

Shirley O'Neil
Shirley O'NeilCEO
Shirley Oneil is an accomplished businesswoman with 20 years in sales, technology, and e-commerce. She has produced the most trafficked interactive installation in Boston, with 1.2 million viewers a month. In 2014, Shirley was tapped by the City of Boston to produce an interactive technology exhibit for First Night. Shirley has been an advocate for those with disabilities. Her sister, Donna, has Down’s Syndrome. Shirley founded Sonzia for her and all others that could benefit from her work.
Mihai Dinulescu
Mihai DinulescuCBO
Mihai is a serial entrepreneur with an eye for helping others. He has been a founding member of companies such as CEMI, a nonprofit dedicated to technological creativity, and Aptamark a Parkinson’s diagnostic firm woking with Mt Sinai Medical School. Combining science, therapy, and cutting edge media, Sonzia is a natural fit for Mihai.
Jeff Masters
Jeff MastersChief Technology Officer
Jeff Masters is an inventor and technologist who has worked as an engineer at iRobot and General Electric, as well as a Technology Licensing Associate at M.I.T. A graduate of Northeastern University, he loves solving problems and building solutions that make the world a better place.
Lucy Flucker
Lucy FluckerPublic Relations and Media Coordinator
Lucy’s work in Communications ranges from content creation to direct outreach. She manages Sonzia’s social media accounts and website and is very involved in Boston’s start-up and entrepreneurial community. Previous work includes Serving in Americorps NCCC and volunteering in the development office of the Women’s Lunch Place. She will receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Political Communications from Emerson College in December 2016.

Advisors

Otis Grigsby
Otis GrigsbyAdvisor
Otis W. Grigsby is an associate in the Cincinnati office of Taft where he is a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group. He focuses on trademark, copyright and trade secret matters related to start-ups, nonprofits and mergers and acquisitions.

Otis graduated with a B.A. in interior design from the University of Kentucky, College of Design and played on the varsity football team. After college, he played in the National Football League for several years before going to law school and earning a J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Regis Kopper
Regis KopperAdvisor
Dr. Regis Kopper is the Director of the Duke immersive Virtual Environment and advises Sonzia on content. He has researched the value of virtual humans in interpersonal skills training. His research interests include 3D user interfaces, virtual human interaction, novel interaction techniques and large high-resolution displays. Dr. Kopper is a recipient of the best paper award in the IEEE Symposium in 3D User Interfaces and was a member of the first team to be awarded the 3D User Interfaces Grand Prize.
Shannon Crozier
Shannon CrozierAdvisor
Shannon Crozier is the director of the UNLV Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BABC-D). She specializes in the learning and behavioral needs of students with autism spectrum disorders. After nine years of teaching special education, she came to UNLV in 2003 to earn her Ph.D. In 2006, she became the founding associate director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her research has focused on the development of effective instructional strategies for academic and social skills and the application of positive behavior supports at the individual and system level.