College Leaders

CLP 2009: Day 7, Friday June 5
Jun 6 2009 - 11:08am

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 7—Friday, June 5
Reported by TiffanyAnn Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth University

Although the weather was bleak, Dr. Kidd started off the morning by engaging us in a lively conversation about the divisions of power found within the Virginia Constitution. In dissecting the bodies of legislature, we aimed to define the responsibilities of government and focused on the "hot button" issue of transportation.
     We let the situation cool by breaking up into groups for a working lunch in preparation for our culminating project. We received constructive criticism from participants in other groups to help narrow our focus in our respective topic areas. Topics included issues of immigration, K-12 education, crime & justice, transportation, and economic development.
     Following lunch, Barbara Kessler conducted a resume workshop with us. She emphasized the importance of showcasing oneself, quantifying, and chronologizing our resumes. Prior to the workshop, Ms. Kessler collected the resume of each CLP participant to give individualized feedback. Each resume was spotted with red pen when returned to us, indicating areas that we could improve upon.
     After the session, we resumed with Dr. Kidd's "Informed Citizen" curriculum. We discussed the gubernatorial powers stated in the Constitution and compared the powers of the Virginia Governor to those of other state governors. With the primaries approaching this upcoming Tuesday, Dr. Kidd urged us to cast our own predictions before class adjourned for the day.
     The learning did not stop as we came back to Bice Hall, where we dined on Chinese food and continued conversations about economic development far into the night.

—TiffanyAnn Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth University

CLP 2009: Day 6, Thursday June 4
Jun 6 2009 - 8:34am

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 6—Thursday, June 4
Reported by Jack Ruddy, Hampden-Sydney

In the morning we had a speaker named Mary Loose Deviney. She spoke to the group about the discrepancy in the "curse and abuse" statute.  This statute protects citizens from language from another which would breach the peace.  The courts have interpreted this statue to mean that someone must use "fighting words" toward another to be in violation of this statue.  However, the statute does not protect first responders and law officers.  The charge for violating the statue is a Class 3 misdemeanor.  The charge is very minor.  Ms. Deviney expressed her passion for this issue.  It was an especially important topic because her brother, a law officer, has been in a situation in which he wrote up a violation of this statute because a man cursed at him and the charge was overturned by the court.  Ms. Deviney has tried to get legislation passed which would protect first responders and law officers under the statute.  The legislation failed to make it out of committee.
     Next we heard a speaker by the name of Sheri Iachetta, Registrar for the City of Charlottesvile. She and a coworker discussed many issues with the group.  She addressed the increase in youth turnout and about how other states handle their elections.  For example, Ms. Iachetta talked about Washington, where the citizens all mail in their ballots.  This brought up the issue of voter fraud with any type of election system including computerized systems.
     In the afternoon we welcomed two members of the School Board from Charlottesville.  They talked about the improvements in the Charlottesville school system including the increase in spending per student and their small class sizes.  Both of the speakers addressed issues in other school districts brought up by members of the class.
     For the last part of the day we had class.  We talked about what changes we would suggest if we were to amend Article one of the Virginia Constitution.  We discussed the marriage amendment and the equal rights issue with that section.  Further, we addressed a citizen’s right to health care as well as tried to further define happiness.  For the next day Dr. Kidd told the class to review the articles on the three branches of the state government.

—Jack Ruddy, Hampden-Sydney

CLP 2009: Day 5, Wednesday June 3
Jun 3 2009 - 11:25pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 3—Monday, June 1
Reported by Lindsay Chapman, Virginia Tech

Today was wonderful. The morning bus ride was pleasant, Mallory lead Cosmo quizzes for the girls and I'm pretty sure that the guys' legs were cramping, at least Waylin's definitely were. Gerald's dairy farm was a blast! We learned about the government programs that split the costs of new buildings. They had one new barn-like structure that is covered with large fans, open sides, and dry sawdust to improve cow comfort.
     Another new structure that they have is for dry, or pregnant, cows with a sanitary birthing area, cooling, and dry sawdust. There was a baby bull calf that was born this morning. Also, we learned that they didn't lose any calves last year because of their stringent observation of healthy policies. The farm tries to use as few chemicals as possible and fenced off the river bank to be easy on the environment and prevent run-off to the Chesapeake Bay. The bus took us up the road to the two turkey houses. This year they will ship 700,000 lbs of meat. They are a part of a co-op that works to raise healthy turkeys and has recently switched to raising only one age group of turkeys at a time on the same farm. They sell to 68 different companies. The farm also produces corn and soy. Corn has seen a dramatic increase in price because the supply has gone down since it is being diverted to ethanol. This makes it more expensive to feed livestock thus making the meat cost more per-pound to produce. Prices for milk and turkey have decreased with the receding economy.
     Staunton is such a precious little town! Lunch at Irish Alley was wonderful, Bob and Marc were especially great lunch companions! We walked a block away, passing many cute small businesses on the way, to the City Hall. Here we had a photo op on the dias in the press conference room. Derek introduced our next speaker, Senator Emmett Hanger. He spoke on several issues that Virginia currently faces but touched on how immigration is a big issue, partisanship is increasing in Richmond, and both parties can't let extremists run them. He considers Creigh Deeds to be Bob McDonnell's biggest threat in a general election. Ben introduced David Ledbetter. He emphasized how big mental health is in criminal justice and how his office is insufficiently staffed to deal with it appropriately.
     The bus ride back was quicker than expected, no traffic. Everyone was a little disappointed that April didn't tell her joke but it just built anticipation for the next bus ride.
     Lots of project groups met tonight after dinner which was yummy Mellow Mushroom pizza.

—Lindsay Chapman, Virginia Tech

CLP 2009: Day 4, Tuesday June 2
Jun 2 2009 - 10:18pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 4—Tuesday, June 2
Reported by Brian Diaz, Liberty University

Today, we woke up at around 7:00 in the morning and we soon got to work. Class was starting to gear up, and I was slowly starting to get a hold of what this program was turning out to be.
     We began the class by speaking about the Commonwealth's economy, and its strengths and weaknesses. We also spoke about the different types of regions and their various industries, economies, major cities, and the different various problems facing them.
     Soon after lunch, we were honored by the presence of Dickey Cranwell, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. He gave us his story on how he began his delegate career, giving us insight on the House of Delegates and the importance of working across the aisle as well as not being partisan to one side or the other. I think his message not only was a testimony on where we need to direct ourselves as a Commonwealth, but what people are starting to look at in future leaders.
     I then began walking to the UVa Rotunda to take our class photos. While taking our photos, I began to realize what type of people I was surrounded by. The group is full of intellectual, energetic, and hopeful college students from across the state; peopel who want this Commonwealth to succeed. We are twenty-seven of the brightest students from across the state, and we have already began to make a difference in our regions of the Commonwealth.
     I look forward to what the rest of the program has ahead of me, and I look forward to working with this great group of peers wherever our future takes us.

—Brian Diaz, Liberty University

CLP 2009: Day 3, Monday June 1
Jun 2 2009 - 7:16am

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 3—Monday, June 1
Reported by Karen White,
Northern Virginia Community College/Vanderbilt

As the young women in room 203 bounded out of bed and began preparation for the first day of class, we sensed the importance of the coming events. Anticipation, mingled with expectations of great challenge and great adventure, made it easy to dress with care. The extent of the skills we would learn and depth of the course to follow would soon be revealed to us.
    Morning classes began with a wonderfully interactive introduction to the application of ethics by Marc Johnson. A lively discussion of the values that we hold as individuals and as a group, and those we expect from our leaders, ensued. Our prior days out in the sun developing common-ground and trust surely paid off, as each of our classmates effortlessly offered up ideas about what key values are needed to build the type of society that we want to live in. Further exploration of these values is central to our roll as leaders.
    So it came as no surprise that the next step of the process was to become aware of tools that make it possible to systematically look at and discuss complex ethical situations. Marc and the team of Program Managers played a lively role in facilitating discussions within the group— which were directed at revealing and exploring our roles in determining where we stand, and why we stand for a particular breed of ethical direction in right-vs-right situations. Although the rules of thumb were effective tools for starting the conversation about forming ethical choices, it was only after I began to discuss the topic with my peers that the subject truly came alive. It was enlightening to learn about the ways other people believe it is 'ethical ' to carry themselves.
    Our first grueling day of full-time school did not even permit us a free lunch, and rightfully so, because the most valuable insights came from the discussion that we had about regional policy issues by locality. The depth of Virginia's many districts were represented by young leaders from those districts. Though some of the topics we discussed were not particularly appealing to me, the level of energy and interest that my peers brought to the table filled me with a sense of direction, dedication and pride.
    These students really do have a strong chance of fulfilling their goals as public leaders and role models for future generations of citizens in this great state. Sigh, this great complicated state. What do you mean it's not nap-time? Oh yes, where were we....
    One more caffeine break and then the introduction of someone who holds the Sereneness Institute in a special place in his heart, our teacher Dr. Quentin Kidd! Tada!
    So in all seriousness, Dr. Kidd has dedicated countless summers to the state of Virginia in the form of active civic education of tomorrows leaders. Even if he is compensated, his level of dedication to the program cannot be understated, and I would personally like to thank him and others like him for bringing all of us here where opportunity is possible.
    After Dr. Kidd introduced himself we began the process of reviewing some facts about Virginia's people, land, economy, education and engagement. This discussion is the foundation of the house of debate. All of the other comments we eventually have about Virginia politics and public policy will hopefully keep in mind the ways in which geography, population and regional issues affect the ability of components of the state to address and redress impediments to creating the kind of state we the people what to live in.
    Today I became a believer in those people around me— in just how talented they all are. It is a wonderful breath of fresh air to meet the challenge of an equally passionate person in debate. I have full confidence that if we keep our enthusiasm high and our goals clear that we can learn more about the type of politics our country needs in one month together than we would in two years on our own.

—Karen White, Northern Virginia Community College/Vanderbilt

CLP 2009: Day 2, Sunday May 31
May 31 2009 - 9:56pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 2—Sunday, May 31
Reported by Jake Lambert, Virginia Tech

    After a day of traveling, moving into Bice Hall, getting orientated to CLP 2009 and going to the corner to get to know each other better over some late night drinks and food, 8:30 in the morning came pretty early. The second day of our time here in the program started with a walk over to Poplar Ridge for a day of participation in some team-building exercises and a ropes course. When we arrived at Poplar Ridge we began with some games to get our blood flowing in preparation for the rest of the day. After these games we split up into two groups and began to get into the real action of what Poplar Ridge had to offer.
    After going to separate areas with our respective groups, we started to get into a little more challenging games. These included such things as the human knot, the human knot with ropes, a ball tossing game, and the log game. Out of all these games, the log game was the most challenging as it required us to stand on a balance beam and without touching the ground OR talking, position ourselves on the beam in alphabetical order. This element of the course was challenging but also fun. Though these games were fun there was also a lesson behind each of them. The overarching theme of the first part of the ropes course was communication and teamwork. These themes played a huge role in the games that we were playing and can also be used in everyday life.
    The next element that we went to was called “traffic jam.” This element included three wires suspended about 12 inches from the ground connected to three trees. The first challenge was to get each group from their “home” (or tree) to different areas of the element while walking on the wires. The next task that we had to accomplish on this particular element was splitting up into two groups and trying to get one group from one side of the element to the other while the second group was trying to go the other direction. These two games on this element were more challenging than the previous games but the group worked well together and formulated a successful plan to navigate the wires successfully.
    Lunch came next and it was an opportunity for the groups to come back together and get to know each other a little better (this is of course the first full day of CLP 2009). After lunch the high ropes section of the course began.  Again we split up into our groups and went separate ways. To perform these challenges we all strapped into harnesses and helmets for safety. One group started on what was called the “High Y” due to the shape of the wires. The goal of this element was to get yourself and a partner from the “V” section of the Y to the bottom of the straight section while using only a couple of ropes to balance. This element was very challenging due to the fact that there was little to balance with.
    The second group started on an element keenly named “The Pamper Pull” because of the degree of stress that this particular element entails. This element was more individual, requiring one person to climb to the top of a pole approximately 30 feet in the air. At the top, with nothing to pull on or grasp on to, the person climbing had to maneuver themselves to stand on a platform at the top no more than one foot in diameter and one that also would spin. This element definitely pushed some of the classmates’ way out of their comfort zone, but everyone seemed to benefit from the stress that it put on the body and mind.
    Though Poplar Ridge was not staffed by Sorensen, some of the lessons taught and learned while participating were definitely a mirror image of those that we learned on the first day of CLP, including being able to effectively communicate a point, teamwork and leadership skills, and being able to recognize and give thought to the ideas of other people that might conflict with yours. The day was a great way to lead up to the start of classes tomorrow.
—Jake Lambert, Virginia Tech

CLP 2009: Day 1, Saturday May 30
May 30 2009 - 10:56pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2009
Day 1—Saturday, May 30
Reported by
Jarrett Brotzman, Washington & Lee University

At midday on this fine Saturday afternoon, 27 eager college students and recent graduates began one of the most prestigious and well- reviewed political leadership programs in the country: the College Leaders Program at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. The CLP Class of 2009 is diverse, representing regions and universities all across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
        The day was kicked off with introductions by staff and students. Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute began with an overview of Sorensen and why the Sorensen Institute's approach to politics as a civil and bipartisan discourse is so important in a country torn by sharp partisan tactics. He encouraged us to approach this week with an open mind, and to listen to those who we disagree with, instead of just shutting them out because we might not initially agree on an issue. "Look to the issue you can find common ground on," says Gibson, "not the twenty other issues you don't."
        The enthusiastic program staff followed by leading a discussion on political engagement and community service. We discussed the motivations and resources necessary for both, reaching some consensus on the many similarities between the two. This was followed by a group-based discussion on political parties and the labels that are frequently attached to them. By acknowledging that no individual who might label themselves as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent can be described by all the stereotypes that popular culture attributes to them, we can better understand the limitations of labeling individuals by party before truly understanding them.
        After dinner, we were privileged to hear from Kelli Palmer, Assistant to the President of the University of Virginia. She began by telling us about her experience last summer when she was literally called to public service. Palmer recalled receiving a phone call asking her to lead a voter registration drive in 17 counties across Virginia when voter registration was very low. She quickly accepted, and after taking a three-month leave of absence from UVa, led a team of 17 local organizers to register over 3,500 new voters. Palmer reminded us that voting registration was a strictly non-partisan practice and that being registered to vote was "as American as apple pie."
        Following an entertaining and informative speaker, we broke up into three groups to go on a photo scavenger hunt of UVa. Challenging us to find distant and sometimes very obscure locations, the hunt was a great introduction to the beauty of the University. We returned tired from a long day, but eager for the excitement that lays in store for us in the coming four weeks.

— Jarrett Brotzman, Washington & Lee University

They're Here! CLP 2009 is Off and Running!
May 30 2009 - 9:10pm

Today marks the first day of the Sorensen Institute's College Leaders Program Class of 2009! Nearly 30 of the Commonwealth's best and brightest college students have gathered on grounds at the University of Virginia for political "boot camp." They will spend the next few weeks studying leadership and public policy, discussing issues with Virginia's elected, business, and non-profit leaders, and traveling the state to see the Commonwealth for themselves. We are honored to have you all with us, congratulations again on your acceptance to Sorensen, get ready for an unforgettable summer, and welcome to Charlottesville!

CLP 2009 Program Managers Are Ready
May 29 2009 - 7:10pm


The 2009 Program Managers for Sorensen's College Leaders Programs arrived in Charlottesville this week and are ready for action. This summer's Managers—who will live with the students and help to oversee every facet of the program— are all graduates of Sorensen youth programs.

From left to right in the photo, the CLP 09 Program Managers are: Joe Stanley (HSLP 05), Ashely Bacon-Ward (CLP 05), and Paul Brockwell (CLP 04). Click here to learn more about this year's managers.

The CLP 2009 begins tomorow, Saturday May 30, and will run until Saturday June 27.

Stephen Bragaw Joins Youth Programs Faculty
May 11 2009 - 1:35pm

The Sorensen Institute would like to welcome Dr. Stephen Bragaw of Sweet Brian College to our faculty. Professor Bragaw will join Sorensen this summer in Charlottesville to teach in our College and High School Leaders Programs.

Steve Bragaw is Professor of American Politics and Chair of the Department of Government and International Affairs at Sweet Briar.  The Director of Sweet Briar's Law & Society program, he teaches courses on public policy, American political and legal development, social movements and the law, as well as American politics and popular culture.

Bragaw's primary research and writing focuses on the role of the Supreme Court in negotiating the boundaries of power and authority, with secondary interests in media and politics, and the politics of civic education.  He is a frequent commentator on national and state politics for television as well as public and talk radio. Prof. Bragaw earned his bachelor's degree in politics, philosophy, and economics from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, a Master of Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and his Masters and PhD in government from the University of Virginia.  He lives in Crozet, VA, with his wife and four children, and is an avid vegetable gardener. Welcome Steve!

Featured Alumni

  • Pat Gottschalk.jpg

    Patrick Gottschalk

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2000

    Pat is a partner at Williams Mullen. He serves on the boards of the Virginia Economic Developers Association and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. Pat was Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade under Governor Tim Kaine.