Kal, we’re thrilled to have you on board!

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in South Florida among the vibrant energy and families creating new beginnings. I spent far too much time foregoing the beach and water to spend significant hours taking apart hardware, hacking code, and being a Maker. That led me to college at Northwestern University in Chicago, and I have stayed in the Chicago area ever since. I continued studying at Northwestern and received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in computer engineering. I am a hands-on technologist with experience working at some very big companies, such as IBM and Phillips Electronics. After that early phase in my career, I have enjoyed being in leadership positions at smaller companies and startups helping them grow. I am passionate about building effective, healthy teams and solving difficult problems – especially when the outcome is not clear.

What drew you to Paladin?

I was introduced to Paladin through a friend. I love companies where technology is used to solve real human problems. As I learned more about Paladin I found that it had a solid team with a lot of potential. It felt like a perfect match and an opportunity too good to pass up.

Why is access to justice important to you?

I have been a student of social justice my entire life. My dad was an attorney who practiced discrimination and personal injury law. After the trials, we would often talk about the cases. It was remarkable to me how often the organizations failed to apply empathy and compassion toward the individuals my dad represented. The situations would have been better for everyone involved if the organizations had taken a human-centric approach. This left me with a lasting sense that society is a better place when people are treated fairly.

I continue to see instances in my personal and professional life, where outcomes of marginalized groups are significantly improved by access to legal resources.

I am honored to participate in improving access.

Desert island: one album, one book, one movie.

  • Album: Electric Lady Sessions by LCD Sound System
  • Book: How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler (not only useful but a very funny read too)
  • Movie: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Which GIF best represents how you feel about building justice?

Let us begin

Let us begin

Kristen Sonday Pic Headshot

Kristen Sonday

Kristen is the Co-Founder and CEO at Paladin. As a first generation-college Princeton graduate, Kristen first witnessed how complicated our judicial system is to navigate while at the U.S. Department of Justice conducting international criminal work in Mexico and Central America. As one of the few Latinos on the team, she saw the immense value of having an advocate with you throughout the legal process, which inspired her to want to build something to increase access for those in diverse communities. After DOJ, she joined the Founding Team of YC-backed Grouper, where she learned how to build a startup from the ground up. In addition to Paladin, Kristen Co-Chairs the Legal Services Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council and is a partner at LongJump, investing in overlooked founders in the Chicago area.

More from Kristen