Sonia Rhodes

Founder & CEO

It’s the littlest Experience elements that often have the greatest impact. The first time I opened the closet at a Kimpton Hotel, I was WOWED. In many ways the closet was just like other hotel closets -- a place for clothes, an extra blanket, and a bathrobe or two. The surprise and delight in the Kimpton closet was that the bathrobes were not standard issue white. One was zebra striped and the other a cheetah print -- turning something mundane into a more personal and memorable Experience. That moment sparked a movement with some of our health care Lab Partners - what elements of our health care Experience currently come the same standard issue color that could become a personal choice and an unexpected wow? Gowns? Choice of pajama or scrub bottoms? Color of the blanket in a hospital room?

20,000 feet + Gnat’s eyelash: The unique ability to see the big picture and possibly for the whole of an organization’s culture and Experience and also orchestrate the countless tiny details that add up to something extraordinary.

“Makeba” by Jain

"Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” - Roald Dahl

This is my life’s work—my passion.

An emergent family health care event ignited my passion for creating a new kind of health care Experience—changing my life and the trajectory of my life’s work forever. For nearly 20 years I have poured my heart and energy into transforming every aspect of the health care Experience for team members, providers, patients, and guests—designing meaningful and memorable Experiences using the lens of humanity to positively impact life stories and lifelong memories.

Launching The Experience Lab has been a dream come true. Making health care better takes courage and we designed The Experience Lab as a one-of-a-kind safe and brave space where we gather visionary health care leaders together with leading experts and provocateurs to breakthrough boundaries, explore new possibilities, collaborate, and create the kind of Experiences that people desire and deserve. There is simply nothing better than waking up every day knowing I get to work with people who are passionately doing everything they can to make health care better It is an honor to do our small part of healing health care from the inside out.
A leader. A tireless champion. A human-connector. Sonia is both a student and an architect of large-scale transformational change. For more than 20 years she has been instrumental in leading and integrating positive change in health care systems—orchestrating shifts to the Experience mindset. Sonia excels in pushing boundaries, spreading ideas, sparking action, and bringing entire organizations together for inspiration, education, and celebration. Her infectious joy and passion for her work create an environment where “what if” transforms into “why not?”

A true Experience visionary, Sonia was the first in the nation to serve as a health care executive responsible for Experience transformation. Imagining new possibilities for Sharp HealthCare, she incorporated Experience Design principles across its 30+ locations and 15,000+ team members, garnering unprecedented organizational results, including Sharp’s recognition as a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient—the nation’s highest presidential honor for organization excellence. In 2012, Sonia went on to run her own experience design firm guiding large, complex health care systems through the design and staging of their experience strategy. In 2016 her dream for a National Collaborative for Experience Transformation was realized with the launch of The Experience Lab. Sonia is the co-author of The Complete* Guide to Transforming the Patient Experience (HCPro, 2009) and an acclaimed national speaker. She is an Emmy award-winning producer of the television documentary series Stories of The Sharp Experience. Sonia was also one of the first to be nationally recognized for her individual achievement in the emerging Experience Economy, receiving the inaugural Experience Management Achievement (EMA) award in 2002.

Sonia shares her expertise with high school students through TEDxYouth events and serves on various non-profit health care and education boards.