LIHUE — Founding member of the Kauai EVA (Electric Vehicle Association) Sonja Kass found herself in San Diego on Saturday, accepting the “Woman of the Year” Award from the North American Electric Auto Association.
It was a trip planned at the last minute and full of meetings and conference lectures, one that started with a surprise message in her inbox early in January announcing she was the award recipient.
“I just got back from Arizona with my family when I checked my email. At first I thought it was a hoax, but then it hit me and I got excited,” Kass said.
Standing onstage at the awards ceremony, she directed all the attention to her team on Kauai, the ones she said helped make Kauai EV a force for electric vehicle sales on the island. The organization hosts informational and test-driving gatherings to promote the features of electric vehicles, the reality of maintenance and cost and the availability of charging stations around the island.
“I didn’t win it by myself,” Kass said at the ceremony. “So I want to thank my husband Andy Kass, the board of directors I work with — Justin Carvalho, my best friend Sharon Geiken and Noel Morin.”
Unbeknownst to Kass, the nomination process started in October 2019, when Hawaii Electric Vehicle Association leader Morin nominated her for the award for “her hard work and accomplishments in Kauai.”
“I appreciate very much Sonja’s passion for the environment and all efforts to help us transition to cleaner energy and transportation,” Morin said. “As a result of her efforts and persistence, the Kauai EV group has had several successful outreach events — including three during our last National Drive Electric Week — initiated an EV education program at the community college and expanded public engagement with their website and social media presence.”
Morin said he was delighted when he heard that she received the award. “AShe definitely deserved it,” he said.
Nominees for the North American EAA’s Woman of the Year Award are always taken from within the members.
“Sonja Kass has been instrumental in the growth of EV adoption on the island of Kauai,” said Tim Benford, an EAA board member. “She and her husband Andy have driven a LEAF for some time and have been advocating for EVs for several years through Kauai EVA. Further, she made time to teach a course on electric cars at her local community college. As part of the effort to organize EV owners across Hawaii, Sonja recruited numerous new EV owners to join the Kauai EVA.”
Kauai EV is part of the Hawaii Electric Vehicle Association. EAA is a nonprofit that was established in the 1960s to increase the awareness and adoption of sustainable transportation.