After seven years of near-daily child abuse, neglect and delinquency hearings, Sophia Bond wasn’t gone long following her official departure from the Jackson County Circuit Court’s juvenile division in 2019.
Instead, she immediately embraced a new role as volunteer guardian ad litem, a position that for Bond — herself a product of the state foster care system — is deeply personal.
“One does not voluntarily enter the realm of Family Court cases unless they have a true passion for children and their well-being,” a former colleague wrote in nominating Bond for the Women’s Justice Award. “Sophia has dedicated years to making sure the children of Jackson County are given a chance to have a better life … The determination she displays while advocating for children is virtually unmatched.”
The oldest of six siblings, Bond spent several years in foster care during her adolescence. A high school internship at Shook, Hardy & Bacon helped point her toward a career helping those who followed in her footsteps. Among her mentors: former Shook mentor Melissa Taylor Standridge, now a Kansas Supreme Court Justice.
“When I was going through the (foster care) experience, I really felt like I didn’t have a voice,” she said. “And two, there weren’t very many people who looked like me who were decisionmakers.”
Bond received her undergraduate degree in political science and African American studies from Saint Louis University before returning home to attend law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The 2011 UMKC graduate spent her first year as a contract attorney for a small Liberty firm and then as a staff attorney with the nonprofit Missouri Protection & Advocacy Services before joining Jackson County.
At the Department of Education, her focus is on systemic audits and compliance reviews of institutions’ adherence to federal civil rights laws. She also teaches business law part-time as a Johnson County Community College adjunct – but it’s through her continued involvement with vulnerable children that Bond’s true dedication shines.
She also serves as recording secretary of the Jackson County Bar Association and on the Jackson County Family Court’s Diversity Committee.
“Coming from a world where most of the people I went to school with, and the people I dealt with at home, all looked like me, to an environment where no one looked like me was shocking,” she said, recounting her time in foster care.
“Now in Jackson County, the majority of kids in foster care are of color, particularly African-American,” she adds. Bond indicated that at the Jackson County Family Court there is minimal diverse legal representation and during her time working at the Court, for several years, she was the only attorney of color at her office.”
Bond reserves her highest praise for William Wallace, Sr. and Magradis Wallace, the aunt and uncle who helped raise her — and by whom she was legally adopted, as an adult, just a few years ago, joining their own six biological children.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without them,” she said.