Jeffrey L. Sowder of Toronto, Kansas, is currently serving his 11th year as a member of the Boards of Directors for Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children®. He was elected Imperial Potentate, part of the 12-member body that helps govern the Shriners fraternity, during the Shriners' 2019 Imperial Session - held in Nashville, Tennessee, June 30 - July 4.
Sowder was raised a Master Mason in 1975 at Toronto Woodson Lodge #121. He served as Master of his lodge in 1981, 1983, 1991 and 1992. After many Grand Lodge appointments, including District Deputy Grand Master, Area Deputy Grand Master, and Chairman of the Grand Lodge Membership Committee, and serving as an appointive Grand Officer on three separate occasions, he was elected Grand Junior Warden in 1994, and he served as Grand Master of Kansas in 1997.
Sowder became a member of Midian Shriners in Wichita, Kansas, in 1988 and served as the temple's Potentate in 2004. Sowder has served on many committees at the Imperial level, including the Pilot Implementation Team, Executive Membership Committee, and the Building and Equipment, East/West Shrine Game®, Strategic Planning, Donor Relations, TRAC, Ritual and Leadership Training and Education Seminars Committees. He has also been a presenter at the Imperial Membership, Oriental Guide and Assistant Rabban seminars.
Sowder served as the personal representative for the Wichita Scottish Rite Valley in Wichita from 2006 to 2009. He served on the board of the Kansas Masonic Foundation for 25 years and as its President from 2004 to 2011.
Sowder was born and raised on a ranch in Kansas. He operates four separate agricultural-related corporations - a 1,000-head cow/calf operation, a retail feed business serving ranchers throughout the Flint Hills of Kansas, a wholesale cattle mineral business with distribution in four states, and a multifaceted agricultural wholesale/retail business in Wichita.
Sowder and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 45 years and have two daughters, Stephanie and Lindsay. Stephanie and her husband, Jamie Nelson, live near Toronto, Kansas, with their three children, Corinne, Sutton and Reid. Lindsay is married to John Hill, and they live in Fort Scott, Kansas, with their sons, JJ and Hudson.