You Should Know… Danya Sherman

Danya Sherman. Photo by David Stuck

Danya Sherman, 25, is an entrepreneur praised by Forbes as “passionate about combining human rights and technology innovation to create social change.”

The Arlington resident founded KnoNap while attending George Washington University. Her company would go on to develop a discreet test kit that allows people to identify if a drink has been laced.

Sherman earned her MBA at Georgetown University where she was co-president of the Jewish Business Alliance. Recognized this year by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, she is one of 18 Capital Chai honorees, recognized for trying to better the world.

Tell us about your company, Knonap.

Our mission is to empower, educate and advocate against drink spiking and drug-facilitated sexual assault and crime. We’ve created a discreet, portable, gender- inclusive empowerment tool against drink spiking, which can be used by anyone in a social setting. It looks like a stick of gum and is packaged as such to increase affordability, ease of carrying, ease of discretion and usability.

What drew you to this cause?

The issue of drink spiking is very personal to me. Statistically, one out of every 13 college-aged individuals suspect they’ve have had a drink laced with a drug. It affects millions of individuals internationally and I’m humbled to be able to bring it to light through my work. The realization of the pervasiveness of the issue of drink spiking led me to think about personal tools to increase my safety, but I found there was nothing that I would use.

Is you company a non-profit?

My company is a social enterprise, meaning we’re a for-profit entity but everything we do is very much ingrained in social impact. What we do is work with universities, Title IX offices and police departments across the U.S.

What are your favorite Jewish memories?

I grew up in a Jewish home in Scottsdale, Ariz. I take a lot of value in appreciating the culture and religion I was raised in. My favorite memories of growing up are celebrating Shabbat with my family and getting to have a meal all together every Friday night.

Everybody sat down and we just reflected on the week and spoke about what we were working on. Just quality family time. To me that’s a big part of my Jewish identity, the celebration of community. Now I host Shabbat with people of different faiths and backgrounds to be able to connect and grow community.

What is one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to hear after meeting you for the first time?

That I actually won a television cooking contest in high school. I love to cook and my sister and I ended up winning the entire show called Food Ball. I got a college scholarship through that. What was funny about that is I was raised in a kosher household and still am kosher. They gave us a mystery ingredient and ours was shrimp. I actually cooked shrimp for the first and last time that day.

If money wasn’t a factor and you could pick any job in the world, what would it be?

I would say what I’m doing right now. I am absolutely in love with what myself and my team are building. I love social impact and the ability to have a for-profit venture for which everything we do is rooted in creating social change and impact through our mission. But if I were to be doing something other than what I’m doing right now, I would probably be on a vineyard somewhere, making wines or maybe be a pastry chef.

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