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CLP Alumni News
The Sorensen Institute is proud to announce the Youth Program Managers for our 2014 College and High School Leaders Programs: Caitlin Casassa (Sorensen UIP Intern 2014), John DeVilbiss (HSLP 2009), and Claire Hathaway (CLP 2012). The Program Managers help direct our College and High School Leaders Programs, which are held each summer on grounds at the University of Virginia. They are critical to the success of the programs, providing on-site mentoring, instruction, and leadership to our students.
Caitlin Casassa, from Virginia Beach, is a 2014 graduate from the University of Virginia and former Sorensen Institute intern. While attending UVA, Caitlin campaigned and volunteered for the 2012 Romney presidential campaign. As a Foreign Affairs Major and Latin American Studies Minor, Caitlin researched anti-terrorism methods of the 21st century and issues concerning slums in the developing world. Also at UVA, Caitlin held numerous leadership positions where she mentored students and coached youth soccer teams. Some of her most enjoyable college experiences were studying abroad in Spain and Brazil, and the opportunity to participate in an Alternative Spring Break service trip to Trinidad where she volunteered at an orphanage and at schools for children with special needs.
John DeVilbiss is from Radford, Virginia. He attended the HSLP in 2009. He recently graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in Philosophy. While there, he was a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He was selected for multiple leadership positions ranging from small units to strategic level planning. He taught college students time management, effective studying, project management, and professional writing. He helped create academic curriculums and orientation processes for new members. He has enjoyed learning about leadership from famous political figures, Fortune 500 executives, and exemplary military officers. He has a passion for developing leaders. He hopes to share his lessons and experiences in leadership with the rising HSLP and CLP classes.
Claire Hathaway is from Ashburn, Virginia, and is a rising senior at Radford University. She is currently working towards her B.S in Political Science, as well as minoring in International Relations and History. Claire is heavily involved in the Alpha Beta Zeta Chapter of the national service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Through her work in the fraternity, she has received the opportunity to develop her leadership skills through community service. Her time so far in APO has strengthened her belief in the value of giving back through service. She is also involved in the Student Government Association as the Diversity Coordinator for the upcoming year. Claire is a member of the CLP Class of 2012 and looks forward to the CLP and HSLP programs this summer.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has appointed Barbara Fried of Crozet and Dr. L.D. Britt of Suffolk to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. Fried is former chair of the Sorensen Statewide Advisory Board. Britt (PLP Spring '94), was in the first Political Leaders Program class with Emily Couric. The governor also appointed Lucy Hutchinson (CLP 2005) to the James Madison University Board of Visitors. Hutchinson, of Falls Church, is a senior manager for executive and commercial recruiting of Capital One.
Attorney General Mark Herring has appointed Emily Bowles (CLP 2010) to serve in his office.
Emily will serve as director of scheduling. She most recently worked as a committee operations assistant in the Office of the Clerk of the Virginia Senate. She is a graduate of U.Va. who previously worked as a new media assistant on Tim Kaine's U.S. Senate campaign, and worked as a Governor's Fellow in the Commerce and Trade secretariat under Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Attorney General Mark Herring has appointed a College Leaders Program alumna and a member of the current Political Leaders Program class to serve in his office.
Linda Bryant (PLP 2014) will serve as Deputy Attorney General for Public Safety & Enforcement. Bryant has been a Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Norfolk, following active duty service in the United States Army.
Brittany Anderson (CLP 2010) will serve as Special Assistant to the Attorney General. Anderson was the Legislative Aide for then-Senator Mark Herring. Prior to that, Anderson served as Legislative Aide for Delegate Joe Morrissey. She was a Field Organizer for Boucher Congress after getting a B.A. in political science from Virginia Tech in 2010.
Sorensen alumni have been chosen for key positions in Gov. McAuliffe's administration.
Brian Coy (CLP 2006), Press Secretary, Office of the Governor
Victoria Cochran (PLP 2007), Deputy Secretary of Public Safety
Evan Feinman (PLP 2012), Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources
Grindly Johnson (PLP 1996), Deputy Secretary of Transportation
Aubrey Layne (PLP 2011), Secretary of Transportation
John Newby (PLP 2011), Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security
Maribel Ramos (PLP 2007), Director of the Virginia Legislative Office
Felix Sarfo-Kantanka, Jr. (PLP 2004), Legislative Director, Office of the Governor
Congratulations to all!
Congratulations also go out to the following Sorensen alumni who have been hard at work on the Governor's transition team and inaugural committee.
"Common Ground for Virginia" Transition Committee:
Del. Jennifer McClellan, Chair (PLP 2001, CTP 2005)
Jaime Areizaga-Soto (PLP 2009)
Del. Alfonso Lopez (PLP 2003)
Del. Chris Peace (PLP 2004)
Jody Wagner (PLP 1994, Fall)
Judy Anderson (PLP 1994, Fall)
Sen. Adam Ebbin (PLP 2000)
Del. Mark Keam (PLP 2012)
Margi Vanderhye (CTP 2005, PLP 2006)
Photo courtesy of Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office
I've been busy with a course load consisting of various government classes, attending meetings of PAD and Amnesty International GMU, and preparing for the LSAT, which I will be taking in a little less than a year.
I am working on finishing up my senior year at JMU. I've been spending my time working with the JMU Democrats on registering voters and campaigning for the Democratic nominees in Harrisonburg. We have canvassed, held discussion groups, and have been working closely with Senator-elect Kaine's campaign by phone banking and good ol' fashion door knocking.
I am currently the news and features editor for the Highland Cavalier, I was elected Vice President of the College Republicans, and I was accepted into the Napolean Hill scholars Program.
I worked for a security company called Spartan Security International in Colorado for the duration of the summer after Sorensen. I am currently working on completing my last semester at VCU.
Since the school year started I've been working on Student Government events in my new position as Legislative Action Coordinator. I've been planning voter registration drives and other events to get students interested in the elections and politics while getting started on plans for Radford's Advocacy Day event in Richmond. I’ve also been working on a local campaign and have started looking into summer internships.
I was invited to the International Honor Society for Economics (Omicron Delta Epsilon) and am interning at a law firm in downtown Fredericksburg.
After graduating from Sorensen, I started an internship with the Romney campaign. I also took a little vacation to Canada before starting fall semester. I have been inducted in Phi Alpha Delta as well as Phi Sigma Alpha at GMU. I joined a club called Patriots for Foreign Service which is highly beneficial as we have many speakers, such as ambassadors, come in. I have been active in salsa club, "Project Downtown DC," and coordinating the Global Visual Summits upcoming conference.
I have been coordinating senior events in SGA and the political science society, reconnecting with friends, and focusing on school.
This semester I've been really focused on my classes, especially a big history research paper I am writing. I am also planning a study abroad trip for the summer of 2013 that will be going to Poland, Germany, Russia, and the Czech Republic.
I have been going to class and working at my job, getting some legislation started in SGA this semester, and working to help a launch a project called the Love Where You Live Campaign. There is also a project during the month of October called the Project Green Challenge at Tech that I have recently started participating in. I have also been planning my summer, trying to do the Washington Semester Summer Program.
This semester I have been extremely busy with classes, work, and presiding over the JMU chapter of Phi Alpha Delta. Most notably we have recruiting my fellow Sorensen alumnus, Troy. I have also been active starting a Virginia21 club here at JMU, and of course keeping up with everyone from Sorensen!
After Sorensen I spent the rest of the summer in the Dominican Republic and Haiti conducting thesis research on citizenship revocation and human rights. Currently working on my thesis and I have also been volunteering for Mainers United for Marriage Equality to vote Yes on 1 (which would legalize gay marriage in Maine). I have also gotten involved with the Bates Democrats getting people registered to vote.
I'm working at the Virginia War Memorial as an intern, doing all sorts of archiving, creating displays, helping visitors to the museum, and learning about the political side of it, as the War Memorial is under the Department of Veterans Services and Homeland Security. Speaking of the VSHS, I will be seeking employment there in the administration and/or veterans services department.
I’m in Florida helping out with the Obama Campaign! I’m a Deputy Field Organizer in Bradenton, Florida right outside of Tampa. I just started this week but it's pretty exciting! We're really busy; Florida is much different than Virginia!
For the rest of the summer I served as a junior faculty member at the Harvard Debate Council’s Public Speaking and Argumentation Summer Workshop and I was named to Congressman Rob Wittman’s Education Advisory Council for the First Congressional District. In September, I began working in the Office of the University President for President Hurley at Mary Washington. In October, the Legislative Action Committee of which I am the Chair, will be sponsoring a debate on campus between candidates of the 1st Congressional District, including Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), Adam Cook (D), and Gail Parker (I). I am also working on an independent study that replicates John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage” by looking at four Senators since the 1950’s who have exemplified great political courage.
Governor McDonnell recently signed SB 354 and HB 300, inspired by a College Leaders Program policy project, into law. CLP 2011 members Rebecca Lamb, Scott Bennett, Danny Yates, Kelli Montgomery, and Kevin Muchiri developed the idea for a Honeybee Incentive, which proposed a tax credit for beekeepers for as much as $200 for every new beehive, up to $2,400.
The project was adopted by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) and Delegate Ed Scott (R-Culpeper) and presented to the General Assembly. Similar bills had failed in previous years, but passed this year after being changed by legislative committee to a grant system to be administered by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The General Assembly established a fund totaling $175,000 to apiarists to encourage developing the state's dying bee population.
House Bill 300, introduced by Delegate Ed Scott (R-Madison County), and Senate Bill 354, introduced by Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), were originally the brainchild of members of the College Leaders Class of 2011. The policy group, comprised of Rebecca Lamb, Scott Bennett, Danny Yates, Kelli Montgomery, and Kevin Muchiri, presented their cumulative project at the end of their month-long Sorensen experience last June.
HB 300 and SB 354 would create a tax credit for new beehives of $200 per hive for registered beekeepers who have the hives inspected by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The bill limits the credit to $2,400 per taxpayer per calendar year. These are the first bills with strong ties to Sorensen youth program alumni to be proposed this session.
Executive Director Bob Gibson stated, "It's great to see that the College Leaders Program, which develops legislative solutions to Virginia's problems, has yet another proposal introduced as legislation."
The bills are currently awaiting a vote in the Finance Committees of each legislative body.