College Leaders

CLP 2015: Day 14 - Friday, June 26
Jun 26 2015 - 12:51pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 14: Friday, June 26
Reported by: Robbie Bradshaw, Old Dominion University

On a normal morning where the time of arrival is 10 a.m., the majority of alarm clocks in Bice House go off at 9:30 a.m. However, today was completely different and not normal. Today was the last day of class for the Sorensen Institute College Leaders Program.

The majority of us were nervous, as we were about to present our policy proposal projects to a panel of distinguished guests. We woke up a few hours early in order to practice with our groups. I was told to be in Sarah’s room by 9 a.m., but it was a late morning for me, and I arrived at 9:05 with the help of Michael Lopez. After practicing our presentations, we marched over to New Cabell Hall gleaming with confidence and a little bit of anxiety.

When we arrived in the classroom, everybody was anxious to begin. I heard numerous statements including, “I just want this to be nervous,” and, “My legs won’t stop shaking.” We were all nervous because the prestige of our panel of judges was extremely intimidating. The medical cannabis group, of which I was a part, made sure to befriend all of the panelists in order to get on their good sides. Cash began the proposal by introducing each panelist, which included the likes of Sen. Bryce Reeves and our own Dr. Kidd.

The education group was the first to present. Their bill lock in college tuition rates for all freshmen at each public college or university. My group, the healthcare group, went second. Our bill looked to extend the Code of Virginia to allow HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis patients to use medical marijuana without facing prosecution. The next group wanted to increase the efficiency of the Port of Virginia. The last to present was the regional inequality group, which devised a plan that they called “Activate Virginia.” Activate Virginia looked to bring large businesses to the Southwest and Southside regions of Virginia by including a ten year corporate tax exception incentive. After our presentations were complete, we talked with each of the members of the panel to get their insight on how we might pass our bills.

Shortly thereafter, Jason’s Deli showed up with lunch for our class. During lunch we said our last thank you’s and goodbye’s to Dr. Kidd for all of the knowledge he has bestowed upon us.

We capped off our final day with a wonderful dinner at Horse & Hound Gastropub. Some had the half rack of ribs, while others enjoyed delicious, juicy cheeseburgers. During dinner, Cash and the Youth Program Managers handed out our class superlatives. Nathan won "Most Likely to Tell It Like It Is," Michael Lopez won "Best Sense of Humor," and I won "Most Likely to Tweet Their Vote," because apparently I tweet more than anyone else. Overall, the day was a wonderful way to finish off our time here at Sorensen. We are all going to miss Sorensen and each other. 

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 13 - Thursday, June 25
Jun 26 2015 - 12:04am

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 13: Thursday, June 25
Reported by: Jacob Perry, The Ohio State University

Today, the College Leaders Program took on the infamous Budget Game simulation. After being briefed on the fictitious $1 billion dollar budget shortfall facing the Commonwealth of Virginia, students were assigned to either the House of Delegates or the Senate and charged with balancing the budget in a long committee meeting.

The first order of business for each body was to organize committee leadership. In the House, Jacob Perry was elected Committee Chair and Ryan LaRochelle served as Clerk. In the Senate, Nathan Britt was elected Committee Chair and Shalma Akther served as Clerk. The Chairs then began to lead their respective committees in the rather daunting undertaking.

After taking the time to read through the budget in its entirety, the committee members took turns voicing their initial thoughts about spending priorities and fiscal strategy. With the preservation of state jobs and education funding in mind, the House began to parse through the budget item by item and make spending cuts where the committee members could agree with relative ease. The second phase of spending cuts and tax increases was a bit more difficult to work through, but the House members were willing to compromise and make tough decisions. In the Senate, committee members worked to keep tax increases to a minimum while reining in the shortfall with targeted spending cuts the chamber could agree on.

Once both houses passed their budgets, their Committee Chairs went into a private meeting to compare budgets and lay the groundwork for the full meeting of the General Assembly yet to come. The House budget emphasized state job retention but at the expense of reasonable tax increases whereas the Senate budget emphasized lower tax increases but cost the state lots of jobs. The Chairs found a way to completely balance the budget while compromising on both fronts with more limited tax increases and aggressive spending cuts that still retained almost all state jobs, and worked to build consensus in the full meeting. After adopting an amendment to the compromise budget proposed by the Senate, the full General Assembly voted to pass a balanced budget. Hours of tough decision making and compromising had paid off.

Having successfully addressed the budget shortfall in the simulation, the CLP students met with their policy proposal groups to finalize their reports and practice their presentations. In anticipation of pitching their proposed legislation to the panel of experts the next morning, the students found a renewed drive to perfect their work. As the evening drew to a close, the excitement about the upcoming presentations was mounting. 

Look for photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 12 - Wednesday, June 24
Jun 24 2015 - 11:11pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 12: Wednesday, June 24
Reported by: Michael Lopez, The College of William & Mary and Shalma Akther, Virginia Commonwealth University

After waking up very early, the class gathered at 7 a.m. to take a bus to Richmond. Everyone was excited for what the day had in store for us! During the ride, some students took the opportunity to work on their policy proposals that will be presented this Friday, while others caught up on some much-needed sleep.

We arrived at around 8:30 a.m. at the Virginia State Capitol where we went to meet our first round of speakers for the day. The first two speakers work for the government relations teams of two different universities: Ashely Myers of U.Va. and Annie Morris of VCU. They touched upon the higher education system in Virginia and how efficient and effective it has been for thousands of students. They also spoke about how Virginia’s public colleges are different since they are decentralized. In addition, we learned a great deal more about tuition increases and the measures taken this past legislative session to address campus sexual assault.

Next, we heard from Jonas Courney, who talked to us about campaign fundraising. In order to be a successful fundraiser, you have to build relationships with different individuals, persuade them why they should donate to your campaign, and have an inspirational story to gain trust and support.

After a short break, Brian Coy, the Communications Director for Gov. McAuliffe, discussed the details of his job, where Virginia was heading under Gov. McAuliffe, and answered our numerous questions. Since his job is to spread Gov. McAuliffe’s vision for the future of our state, he constantly communicates with news outlets and other sectors of the media. He emphasized the importance of strengthening relationships and valuing people.

Then Jameson Babb, Del. Peter Ferrell's legislative aid, and Abbey Phillips, Del. Jennifer McClellan's legislative aid, talked talk to us about policymaking and what it means to serve constituents. They said it is vital to empower those you represent through simple means, whether it is filing a bill a constituent requested or sending a congratulatory letter for making honor roll.

Our next special guest was the Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Victoria Cochran. She told us about how she initially got involved in politics and how her career was not a straight path to where she is now. Her story lead us to an important tip for living life: You have to be open to new career possibilities even if it’s not what you originally planned, and in the end, that openness will most likely take you to where you want to be. Through her humor and passion about the issues, she motivated all of the members of the CLP to remain open-minded and work with people regardless of their beliefs.

Afterwards, lunch awaited us, but even more exciting was our next speaker, former Lieutenant Governor and current Sorensen board Chair, John Hager. He stressed that he, like many others, did not see a political future for himself early in life. After taking many detours and having a successful career, he decided to run for office. He served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1998-2002, and told us how it is necessary to reach across the aisle in order to get meaningful legislation passed in government. And with that, we took a great photo with our Chairman in front of our beautiful, historic Capitol.

Next up on the itinerary was a visit to the Virginia State Police Headquarters in Midlothian, where we had the pleasure of talking to the Deputy Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. We discussed Virginia’s law enforcement and different policies pertaining to drugs, traffic, and other areas of the law. After hearing from him, we split up into two groups, where we had the opportunity to meet the canine unit. In addition, we partook in a simulation that is used to train officers using various scenarios so that they can practice responding to threats appropriately. One of the groups was fortunate enough to have a tour of a museum in the headquarters as well.

After a long, productive day of learning about our great Commonwealth of Virginia, we headed back to Charlottesville. The day had worn us out, so we used the bus ride back to rest and reflect on our eventful day. A delicious dinner was awaiting us when we returned, and we gathered around to discuss a range of subjects, including what everyone took away from our field trip.  

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 11 - Tuesday, June 23
Jun 23 2015 - 11:30pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 11: Tuesday, June 23
Reported by: Graves Anthony, Hampden-Sydney College

The morning started off as usual, with the walk from Bice House to New Cabell Hall for the classroom portion of the College Leaders Program with Dr. Quentin Kidd. Our discussion ranged from revenue shortfall and service fees to future Supreme Court rulings. Dr. Kidd led the class in a lively discussion of the debate over Medicaid expansion. He said that the debate was not really about whether or not the 4 thousand Virginians should be covered. Instead, he suggested that the debate was about whether or not the Commonwealth could afford to pay for those 4 thousand Virginians once the federal government raises the amount the states would pay from zero to ten percent over the period from 2013-2020. That debate lead the class into a discussion on whether the United States truly has great healthcare when compared to other similar nations. The class finished in concurrence stating that we do have great healthcare for some, but that others have no healthcare at all.

After a delicious lunch from Jason’s Deli, we were ready to learn what we could do to better market ourselves in the fast-paced job market. Barbra Kessler of the University of Virginia’s Career Services led us in a resume workshop. She graciously accepted our resumes and agreed to give us feedback on what we could improve.

Next, Cash Arehart regaled the group with information on how to present yourself in a public forum or in the boardroom. Cash’s personality was infectious as he challenged us to stand at the front of the room for a period of 45 seconds and stare at the class. This was to test us and see how we would react to commanding a room. We learned from him that the best way to command a room wasn’t through yelling, but by having more of a presence and by being patient and quiet before you have something important to say.

Our final speaker of the day, Max Burns, lead the class in a discussion on social media and the crucial role it plays in electoral politics. Max captured our attention with his witty comments on politics and how certain people use social media. He taught us that Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul have the best social media presence out of those who are running for president in 2016. We also learned that despite what many people may think of him, Rick Santorum has a surprisingly well-structured social media presence. Burns also spoke about Newt Gingrich’s love for technology. Newt has a great social media presence and does most of his social media himself. I found Max Burns's talk on the role that social media plays in electoral politics to be very fascinating.

In the end, I learned that no matter what you do—whether it be healthcare, resumes, or social media presence— there is always room for improvement.

Look for photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 10 - Monday, June 22
Jun 22 2015 - 11:39pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 10: Monday, June 22
Reported by: Ryan LaRochelle, Christopher Newport University

The College Leaders Program was very fortunate to host a number of distinguished speakers this Monday. Alexis Rodgers from Virginia21 was the first of those speakers. She spent the beginning of her presentation covering the basic premise of Virginia21 and then went into an overview of some of the ideas they have seen or supported for higher education legislation this past session. One of my classmates, Graves, asked Ms. Rodgers what other things Virginia21 had worked for beyond higher education. While having a conversation about higher education reform is an important topic for students, there is certainly a lot more that young voters are concerned about. For the most part, campus sexual assault and affordable tuition were the main topics discussed.

The next round of speakers was Chris West and Traci DeShazor who were the field director for Congressman Robert Hurt (VA-5) and the Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Virginia, respectively. Mr. West spoke about how different kinds of work are done at a Congressman's district office and D.C. office. District offices are geared mostly towards constituent services, while D.C. offices are centered on everything that comes with crafting legislation. Ms. DeShazor talked about her role as an advocate for the Commonwealth of Virginia in D.C. Both emphasized that they care very much about bipartisanship as a way to get positive work done and how they believe that public service is all about giving back.

Our last speaker for the day was Katy Khurtz from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). She gave a very thorough explanation of what the organization does and how extensive it is in its mission to bring transparency to the citizens of the commonwealth. It was quite amazing to see how much information VPAP was able to collect and organize given how small their workforce is. Any information you would ever want to know about Virginia state legislators is available on the site, along with an extensive collection of demographic info and campaign finance information. I would love to see this sort of project extended to other states and the national government as well.

The last portion of the day was a long session with Dr. Kidd talking about the science behind policymaking and then a discussion about Dillon’s Rule. The main discussion about policymaking was how long the process takes. Welfare was the main example he used to explain this concept. Welfare began with FDR and was expanded 20 years later under Kennedy and Johnson when it became apparent that Social Security alone could not get the job done. The “Great Society” added a number of programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Twenty years after that, sentiments that welfare was still not working properly led to Reagan’s and Clinton’s efforts to scale it back. We live today under that legacy and are beginning a new period in which we will see whether the Affordable Care Act will be successful or if another path is needed.

The discussion on Dillon’s Rule revolved around how state governments relate to local governments. Dillon’s Rule means that local governments are dependent on state governments to make changes and set policy. Overall, it seems that Dillon’s Rule is somewhat embedded in the culture and history of Virginia, but has been detrimental to the growth of some of our major urban areas. It was a very informative discussion and a very enlightening day for our study of Virginia politics.

CLP 2015: Day 9 - Sunday, June 21
Jun 21 2015 - 11:34pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 9: Sunday, June 21
Reported by: Michael Khalifeh, Northern Virginia Community College

Today, the CLP class of 2015 took the day off from usual classroom activities to participate in fun activities that included a trivia game and subsequent scavenger hunt for a mysterious prize. As the class filed in after a long night of celebrating our classmate Ryan’s 21st birthday, we were separated into three teams. The trivia was divided into three categories: presidents, the nation's capital, and Virginia political history. For every question answered in the trivia, a team would be awarded one point.

At the end of the first phase of the trivia activity, the Red Team held a major advantage with a nine point lead going into the scavenger hunt, with the BlueTeam in last place. Being a member of Blue myself, this was very discouraging. However, the Youth Program Managers reminded us that we could rebound in the upcoming scavenger hunt.

For the scavenger hunt, we were all given a time limit of two hours to go and find an assortment of different historical areas and artifacts around the Grounds, such as the garden behind Pavilion VIII. The list also included several random but ordinary objects such as "green bananas" and “men with beards”. To conquer this task, each group took a different strategy of approach. While Blue decided to drive around campus to the different locations, the Red Team took it upon themselves to walk to each place. In the end, this would prove to be the slower, but more effective strategy as Red completed their sweep of two rounds and won the mysterious prize. The prize—a leather Sorensen Institute notebook—was awarded to the group during dinner time, as the CLP class quietly yet rapidly chowed down their respective Chipotle orders.

Finally, as a cap to a long but entertaining and memorable day, the class shared cake and celebrated both Ryan and Logan’s birthdays. Overall it was a much needed break from the classroom to help the CLP Class of 2015 now focus on completing their Culminating Projects by this upcoming Friday. 

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 8 - Saturday, June 20
Jun 20 2015 - 11:47pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 8: Saturday, June 20
Reported by: Tyler Adams, James Madison University

The College Leaders Program spent Saturday simulating the typical process of passing legislation in the Virginia Senate.

The students, having each been assigned a senator and submitted a bill proposal, met with their respective party caucus to elect leadership and discuss the party strategy going into committee hearings. The bills were read and their merits discussed, and a determination was made on whether the caucus would be willing to negotiate a compromise, or if there should be an attempt to table the bill in committee. The caucuses then decided which committees should be given priority based on the importance of the bills on the docket and assigned more senators to them.

Republicans and Democrats each had a majority in one of the three committees, while the third, the fictitious Committee of Redistribution, was split. In Redistribution, the parties came together to reach an agreement which gave the chairmanship to Sen. Alexander (D-Chesapeake). The committees were an opportunity for an initial review of bill proposals and for discussion on potential amendments. While the committees offered a chance to make improvements to the bills, the party with a majority could take advantage of their numbers to table bills which they deemed to be particularly incompatible with their political principles.

The party caucus then met for a second time to reevaluate the bills which had made it through committee and would be heard on the floor. During this time, there was a significant deal of interparty negotiations and haggling as bills were combined and votes were whipped. The party leadership attempted to set a party position for the major bills and eliminate the chance of a rouge senator breaking ranks, potentially becoming the deciding vote for the other party.

The session began with the election Sen. Stanley (R-Franklin) as Leader of the Senate. Several bills were introduced with strong bipartisan support, including a bill improving mental health treatment and an education bill. An impasse was reached several times, requiring a tie breaking vote from the Lt. Governor who, in a surprising turn of events, broke from the party to vote down Republican charter school legislation.

By the time session had adjourned, both parties walked away with several major victories. The Democrats were able to pass Medicaid expansion while Republicans managed to block legislation loosening abortion regulation. Overall, the simulation was an informative exercise which gave students an opportunity to experience the decisions that legislators make when crafting the laws of our commonwealth. 

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 7 - Friday, June 19
Jun 19 2015 - 11:45pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 7: Friday, June 19
Reported by: Logan Dupuy, James Madison University

On this beautiful day in Charlottesville, the morning started off as perfectly as possible. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. This is much like Goldilocks and the three bears expect we’re referring to the weather instead.

Once we had all trickled into the classroom, Dr. Kidd started our class discussion. We were technically supposed to be learning about the Constitution of Virginia but we got sidetracked on a number of occasions.

We began by chatting about the different colleges we all represented and all the different problems facing them. Our class discovered the Virginia Tech is continuing to grow dramatically and causing issues for other state universities because they aren’t getting as many viable applications. I think we all now have a friendly rivalry with VT. I was happy to notice though that my university, JMU (Go Dukes!) is doing fairly well and just plugging along. This conversation then segued into the politics of the different generations. We covered all of the recent-ish generations including Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials (like me and my classmates). Our generation is the “go-getter generation” with a strong passion for activism, including volunteerism.

After much sidetracking and a few tangents - about an hour and 30 minutes worth - we finally got onto the topic of the Constitution of Virginia. We learned how Virginia has a paternalistic political culture, much like the rest of the southern states, so our constitution reflects that. Dr. Kidd had us reflect on sections of the document that we would like changed and then a hearty discussion followed on what the consequences of the changes would be. We then moved onto the powers of the Governor and, to my surprise, how powerful the governorship of Virginia actually is. I’ve always wondered why in the constitution our governors were always restricted to one term and finding out how powerful they are helped explain this unique phenomenon.

After three hours of lecture we had our glorious lunch. Jason’s Deli keeps surprising me in the amount of options they have for lunch. The three or four times we’ve had them, it has always been something different but delicious. Today we weren’t disappointed either—it was a gigantic baked potato with a plethora of different toppings.

I had the pleasure of introducing our first guest speaker JoAnn Auger. Right away it was proving to be an exciting discussion as we were divided into two groups: extraverts and introverts. The goal was to describe the opposite group and the results proved amusing. They hit the nail on the head in many cases. We learned all about our different personalities and the different aspects of each.

Our second guest speaker was Dean Lynch who is a lobbyist for all 95 counties in Virginia. He talked about the duties he has and then answered questions that we had regarding our own counties. Following his very informative Q&A, our last guest speaker Ross Airington arrived. His explanation of how the Affordable Care Act works has been the best explanation I’ve ever heard for Obamacare. His way of explaining the debate going on in our General Assembly regarding Medicaid really helped shed some light on the situation.

Sitting in those chairs for eight hours had their toll and by the end, everyone was ready to get going, especially considering it was Friday afternoon. The weather was still perfectly pleasant on our way back and not much later dinner arrived! The food here is phenomenal and anyone who says differently is obviously off their rocker.

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 6 - Thursday, June 18
Jun 18 2015 - 11:23pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 6: Thursday, June 18
Reported by: Evan Fitts, Virginia Tech

Day 6 of the Sorensen CLP was a transition back to normalcy after the lengthy Southern Virginia experience we had the day prior in Danville.

The day began at 9 a.m. when Cash broke our four policy groups into four different focus groups to discuss the various difficulties and challenges associated with our culminating project ideas. Once the focus groups concluded, everyone returned to the classroom to hear from the first of the day’s three guests speakers.

The first speaker was the Chief of Police for the City of Charlottesville, Timothy Longo, who spoke to our class for an hour and a half, touching upon criminal justice issues from police corruption to the rule of law. His expertise and passion for ethical and professional policing was apparent in that classroom. As the son of a police officer, I understand that the scrutiny being placed on police departments all of the country right now is troublesome for officers and their families; however, after hearing from Chief Longo, I feel more secure in my belief that the profession will gain back the prestige it so rightly deserves.

For lunch, we had Chick-fil-A, which was a pleasant, delicious surprise! As we were finishing up our midday meal, Dr. Kidd arrived for the day’s session of the Informed and Thoughtful Citizen. In our required readings, we had finally arrived at the modern-day two-party system in Virginia and were able to use the class time to talk about the distinct characteristics of the Republican Party and Democratic Party of the 21st Century.

At 3 p.m., the second guest speaker arrived. Mr. Joe Stanley, the Director of Policy at The Commonwealth Institute, spent his time talking about the policies and procedures involved with maintaining a balanced budget in Virginia. He ended by highlighting the importance of a Sorensen education and reminding us of our responsibility to be the next leaders of Virginia and to serve the needs of future Virginians.

Immediately following Mr. Stanley – who invited all of us to his institution’s policy summit in December – was Mr. Sean Holihan, a prominent Democrat in Virginia who acted as a sounding board for each of our policy groups. He offered direct assessments of each of our group ideas, which resulted in interactions that were both informative and humorous.

All three guests speakers provided a unique account of a Virginia political player’s life. I know I speak for my entire College Leaders class when I say that we appreciate Chief Longo, Mr. Stanley, and Mr. Holihan for sharing their experiences and advice with us. 

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

CLP 2015: Day 5 - Wednesday, June 17
Jun 17 2015 - 11:10pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 5: Wednesday, June 17
Reported by: Benjamin Giustiniani, Hampden-Sydney College and Nathan Britt, The College of William & Mary

The day started bright and early at 7 a.m., which is pretty universally viewed as an absurd hour for college students to be awake. Today was the first day (other than pictures) that we were required to dress in business professional attire. We rode a charter bus 2 ½ hours to Green Rock Correctional Facility in Chatham, Va.

It was a little intimidating when we first arrived at the prison. The buildings were massive and the barbed wire and tall fences reminded me of every prison movie I have ever seen. Entry into the prison was unlike any process I have ever experienced before. Everyone had to pass through a metal detector and also give the guard a state issued I.D.

Green Rock has consistently been ranked as one of the safest and most efficient prisons in Virginia. Virginia is ranked number two in the nation with a 22 percent recidivism rate, or amount of inmates who are repeat offenders. One of the correctional officers said that 95 percent of inmates at Green Rock will renter society.

After seeing the visitor room, we were taken to the educational building where all of the programs for the inmates are held. I was surprised at the number of programs that are offered. There are numerous educational programs such as HVAC and electrical, janitorial, surveying, and a strong GED program that inmates can take advantage of while incarcerated. Inmates wake up at 5:45 a.m., eat, and then spend most of the day in these types of programs or jobs. The surveying program that Green Rock offers is the only of its kind in the United States and has been mentioned in numerous magazines and media articles. After we visited the educational building, we saw the cafeteria and the medical center.

The inmate pay scale is three different levels; the jobs that require no specific skill earn 25 cents an hour, while skilled jobs earn 35-45 cents. In the medical center there was a sign stating the cost of an eye exam and a pair of glasses. The sign really put into perceptive for me how little inmates are paid. A pair of regular glasses cost $22, while the base cost of bifocals is $35. An eye exam had a copay of $5. If you were an inmate paid 25 cents an hour, it would take you 20 hours of work just to be able to afford an eye exam. There was also a dental unit in the medical center where inmates have full dental coverage.

About a year and a half ago Green Rock adopted a program called BARK from one of the neighbor prisons where certain well-behaved inmates are allowed to handle dogs and train them. These dogs are rotated every 12 weeks and are put up for adoption. The prison has six dogs, handled by 12 inmates 24/7. The prison has an honors dorm, where the most well behaved inmates can live. There is a strict application process for the honors dorm that requires prospective honors inmates to go at least three years without an incident. The overall focus of the prison is to fix the behaviors that got the inmates into jail in the first place and turn out better citizens for society. The tour concluded after seeing the honor dorm and we made our way back to the bus.

After a huge lunch at a Mexican place in Chatham, we headed down to Danville to speak with the economic development leaders of the town. We filed into a very nice boardroom in a banking building and then listened to Wendi Goods Everson of the DRF and Corrie Teague of the city's economic development office tell us about the economic history of the town and how the city has begun to bounce back since the tobacco and textile industries left for greener pastures. After this, we were treated to a tour of Danville by the former mayor, Linwood Wright, who pointed out all of the exciting new developments that are making Danville into a new and revitalized town that retains its old south flavor.

The long day behind us, we returned to Charlottesville for dinner at Bice House and then set out to diligently work on our policy projects with our groups. I'm very excited to hear what the other groups have come up with and I'm extremely energized to begin working on my project with my group.

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

Featured Alumni

  • Doug Smith.jpg

    Doug Smith

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2005

    Doug serves as the Executive Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier. He is the former Executive Director the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, based in Richmond.