Tonya Sloans is among the eight young graduates of UW-Madison being honored with the 2016 Forward under 40 Award, presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association.
When Sloans arrived on the UW-Madison campus as a Law School student in the fall of 1998, she felt lost. The campus and the people were not familiar to her. She was there to pursue her dream career as a high-powered attorney, yet she had no idea what she was supposed to do with her life.
Any sense of confusion and isolation quickly dissipated as Sloans immersed herself in her studies and came to the realization that she was there to acquire the tools necessary to serve her community. Interactions with faculty and fellow students only reinforced that notion.
“Collectively, they molded my confidence in my ability to leave a significant impression upon my national community and the necessity of doing so,” she says.
Armed with a law degree, Sloans set out to have an impact on that national community by moving to the nation’s capital and ultimately taking a job as counsel for the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics. Her work includes providing legal guidance and direction on appropriate behavior for members of Congress.
Outside of her career in government, Sloans gives back to the Washington, DC, community by serving as a licensed minister. She also founded PowerWoman Enterprise, an organization that provides women with resources to help them achieve their full career potential. This venture enables her to use all of her skills as an attorney, minister, and entrepreneur.
Sloans often spends time engaging in one-on-one coaching with women who need support to reach their specific educational and professional goals. She also serves as the keynote speaker for various Women’s Day programs throughout Washington.
After surviving ovarian cancer in 2014, Sloans counsels people on how to use principles of faith to overcome serious health problems.
“The UW experience taught me that my life is not about how good of a life I can create for myself,” she says. “It helped me understand that I have been granted the God-given privilege of living on earth to use my gifts and talents to benefit others indiscriminately. That is the greatest gift that any university could bestow upon its student body. I am eternally grateful that the UW did that for me.”