Sorensen Partners with Appalachian School of Law and Wellmont Health System for Healthcare Symposium
Aug 26 2014 - 2:14pm

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia is partnering with the Appalachian School of Law and Wellmont Health System to sponsor a day-long symposium on the future of health care on Sept. 22 that will feature keynote addresses by Dr. Bill Hazel, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources; Thomas P. Miller of the American Enterprise Institute, a critic of Obamacare; and Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The symposium, "The Future of Health Care: Moving from Policy to Implementation," will be hosted by Wellmont in Bristol, Tenn., on Monday, Sept. 22, and will feature health care experts, officials and providers from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The media is invited to cover the health law symposium at Wellmont's Monarch Auditorium. Continuing Legal Education Credit has been approved in Virginia and Tennessee and is pending in Kentucky.

The sponsors intend to provide rational debate and civil discourse among experts in the field who disagree on many of the basic issues. Public airing of different points of view on these issues can inform the debate and educate stakeholders and the public about problems and possible solutions that confront us in the complex arena of health care and health law.

The symposium agenda can be found below.

If you have questions about the Healthcare Symposium and wish to speak with a representative, please contact Beth Rhinehart at or (423) 230-8405; Bob Gibson at or (434) 982-4998; or Donna Weaver at or (276) 244-1241.

The website for the symposium is

The online registration site is


7:15 A.M. - 8:00 A.M.
8:00 A.M. - 8:30 A.M.
  • Greg Neal - President, Wellmont BRMC, Bristol, Tennessee
  • David Bailey - President, David Bailey Associates, Richmond, Virginia
  • Dr. Len Nichols - Director, Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
8:30 A.M. - 9:00 A.M. Keynote:
  • Marilyn Tavenner - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C.
9:00 A.M. - 10:30 A.M. Panel 1 - Business Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
  • Karen Harned (moderator) - Executive Director, NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Richmond, Virginia
  • Jenny S. Kiesewetter - Attorney, Butler Snow LLP, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Mike Cole - Benefits Manager, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.
  • Carl Knoblock - Virginia District Director, US Small Business Administrator
  • Debbie Stocks - President, Your Benefits Partner, LLC
  • Stewart Harris - Professor, Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia
10:30 A.M. - 10:45 A.M. Break
10:45 A.M. - 12:15 P.M. Panel 2 - Health Care Innovations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act along with Conflicts and Challenges:
  • Chris Bailey (moderator) - Senior Vice President, Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, Richmond, Virginia
  • Beth Bortz - President & CEO, Virginia Center for Health Innovation, Richmond, Virginia
  • Reginia Sayers - Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Cedar Bluff, Virginia
  • William T. Lee - Pharmacy System Director, Carilion Medical Center, Roanoke, Virginia
  • Karen Remley - Chief Medical Director - Virginia, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
12:15 P.M. - 1:15 P.M. Lunch
1:15 P.M. - 1:45 P.M. Keynote:
  • Dr. Bill Hazel - Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Richmond, Virginia
1:45 P.M. - 3:15 P.M. Panel 3 - Health Benefit Exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
  • Martin Kent (moderator) - President, The United Company, Bristol, Virginia
  • Jacqueline K. Cunningham - Commissioner of Insurance, Bureau of Insurance, State Corporation Commission, Richmond, Virginia
  • Julie M. McPeak - Commissioner, Department of Commerce & Insurance, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Dr. Miriam Fordham - Director of Health Care Policy Administrator, Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Scott Johnson - Director, Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle, P.C., Glen Allen, Virginia
3:15 P.M. - 3:45 P.M. Keynote:
  • Thomas P. Miller - Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, and co-author of "Why Obamacare is Wrong for America"
3:45 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. Break
4:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. Panel 4 - From Policy To Implementation with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: How Do We Get There?:
  • Dr. Nichols (moderator) - Director, Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
  • David C. Smith - Vice President, Health & Welfare at Ebenconcepts, Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Priscilla Harris - Associate Professor, Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia
  • Dixie Tooke-Rawlins D.O. - Provost, Dean and Executive Vice President, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia
5:00 P.M.



Bill Wood, Sorensen's Founding Director, died Friday.
Nov 19 2012 - 6:17pm

Bill Wood and his wife Carol Wood attending a Sorensen Institute event.

Bill Wood, Founding Director of U.Va.’s Sorensen Institute, Dies at 69

November 18, 2012 | Marian Anderfuren

William H. Wood, the former newspaperman who became founding director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, died Nov. 16 at home. He was 69.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer's. Wood died only weeks after he and his wife Carol had moved to Birmingham, Ala., to be near their son and his family.

Wood launched the institute, an educational and training organization for Virginia's emerging political leaders, at U.Va. in 1993. Today, more than 1,000 Virginians have graduated from the Sorensen Institute's programs. Many of the graduates, who are of all political stripes, hold elected and appointed office in Virginia, from school boards to the state legislature.

Bob Gibson, who now directs the Sorensen, said he considers Wood his role model. "Bill could listen to anyone on any side of an issue and find points of agreement or common interest with them," he said. "Behind his mild manner lurked a wonderful sense of humor that could catch people by surprise because he could deliver any message with perfect timing and a deadpan delivery."

Wood stepped down as executive director of Sorensen in 2005, and was recognized with a joint resolution by the General Assembly, commending him for his long career in journalism and his leadership of the institute. He continued to work part time until 2007 as editor of the Virginia Newsletter and director of the publications division of the University's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

A well-known and widely respected journalist, Wood had spent 26 years in the newspaper business before coming to the University - the last 10 as editorial-page editor of The Virginian-Pilot. As a reporter and editor, he covered the Virginia General Assembly for two decades.

John O. Wynne of Virginia Beach, former CEO of Landmark Communications, which owned The Pilot, and former rector of the University, said Wood's editorial philosophy was a good fit with that of Landmark Chairman Frank Batten Sr. and publisher Perry Morgan.

"All of them hated editorial pages that stuck to ideologies - they were always predictable," he said. "They thought newspapers had to do fresh thinking about issues and really inform readers. Bill absolutely did that."
Like Morgan and Batten, Wood worked hard to make sure he was being fair, Wynne said.

Wood began his interest in politics when, as a 14-year-old in Luray, Va., he handed out campaign literature for the successful 1957 campaign of Gov. J. Lindsay Almond. After graduating from Duke University, where he was an editor at the student newspaper, he went to work at the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg.

In 1970, Wood joined The Ledger-Star in Norfolk and for the next 13 years covered police, courts, city councils and the General Assembly and served a stint as sports editor. In 1981, the Ledger merged with The Virginian-Pilot and Wood became the newspapers' second ombudsman. In 1983, he was named editorial page editor.

Gerald L. Baliles, former Virginia governor who now directs U.Va.'s Miller Center, knew Wood from his days in the General Assembly. He said Wood personified civility, sought to elevate and educate, and wrote with clarity and conciseness.

"He was courteous to all, even those with whom he shared a different opinion," Baliles said. "I valued his friendship and respected his judgment." He noted, with a smile in his voice, "I still treasure his endorsement when I ran for attorney general."

Wood, a pitcher for the Duke baseball team, loved the game and especially the Dodgers, starting when they were still in Brooklyn. He played a mean game of tennis, running opponents all over the court, and was fond of beach music, doo-wop and dancing.

In 2005, Wood, then 62, received a diagnosis of a type of dementia that took aim at his speaking, reading and writing abilities. As the old Bill began to fall away, his core remained - his sweetness, his laughter, and his jitterbug wiggle.

Wood is survived by his wife; their son, Zachary Mather, and daughter-in-law, Kate Mather; three grandchildren, Will, Julia and Griffin of Birmingham; and his sister, Sally Heath, of Charlottesville.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. in the University of Virginia chapel. It will be followed by a reception at Carr's Hill.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Wood's name to the Sorensen Institute, P.O. Box 400206, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4206.

Published on UVAToday on Nov. 18, 2012.

Sorensen Mourns Bill Wood
Nov 16 2012 - 4:30pm

It is with a heavy heart and tears that we share the message that our dear friend and former Sorensen executive director Bill Wood passed away early this morning.

Immediate arrangements will occur in Birmingham, but there will be a service, and burial, at a later time in Charlottesville.

Sorensen Alumni Donate Books to Community Center
May 25 2011 - 5:45pm

Through the help of Sorensen alumni and friends, we are helping a Virginia community center.

Thank you so much for your support thus far! Today we are delivering 495 donated items (books, magazines, games, jig saw puzzles and more) to the Harvey Hall Community Center. The Harvey Hall Community Center in Arlington, Va. is one of seven community centers in Arlington and one in Baltimore that works with more than 2,000 children and adults. Services include a wide variety of opportunities, from after-school programs to senior activities, to help improve residents lives. Harvey Hall also provides a teen tutoring and study hall, a project discovery summer camp and programs for seniors such as field trips to cultural sites and on-site luncheons that focus on health oriented topics.

We will continue to collect books the rest of this calendar year. If you have questions or would like to donate items, please contact Tracy Tanner Bond, Alumni Coordinator for Volunteer Events at (434) 982-4943.

O'Brien Promoted to Montpelier COO and Executive VP
May 12 2011 - 1:30pm

We are pleased to announce that Sean T. O’Brien, former Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute, has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Montpelier Foundation. In this new position, Sean will address the needs of the growing organization as they implement their new strategic plan and build on the achievements of the last decade.

Sean has served as the Executive Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier for the past 3-1/2 years. Sean holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Sean, his wife Anne and their 2 children live in Charlottesville.

Congratulations Sean!

Ted Sorensen, Brother of Tom Sorensen, Dies at 82
Nov 1 2010 - 11:50am

Ted Sorensen with Bob Gibson, Sorensen Board Chairman John Hager and Maggie Hager

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia extends our condolences, prayers and best wishes to Ruth Sorensen Singer and Adam Sorensen and their families at the loss of Ted Sorensen, Ruth's brother and Adam's uncle. Ruth Sorensen Singer is a former board member and Adam is a current member of the Sorensen Institute's Statewide Advisory Board.

Ted Sorensen, the brother of the late Tom Sorensen, after whom the Sorensen Institute is named, was an inspiring author, speechwriter and adviser to President John F. Kennedy. Ted Sorensen was well known for his wit and wisdom and was a great supporter of the institute bearing his brother's name.

He visited Charlottesville to benefit the institute on Sept. 8, 2008, at a reception held at Farmington Country Club. The evening's talk is available in the Sorensen Newsroom archives in two parts.

You can learn more about Ted Sorensen's life at The New York Times, The Washington Post and the White House Press Office.

Featured Alumni

  • Kenny Alexander.gif

    Kenneth Alexander

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2002

    Kenny served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002-2012. In September 2012 he was elected to the Senate of Virginia representing the 5th District in Norfolk and Chesapeake.