High School Leaders

BREAKING: Sorensen Announces CLP and HSLP Class of 2009 Participants
Apr 23 2009 - 10:43am

The Sorensen Institute is proud to announce the 2009 College Leaders Program and High School Leaders Program participants.  Following a competitive application and interview process, these 28 College and 32 High School students were selected for the summer programs.

Bob Gibson, Executive Director, commented that "This will be an incredibly exciting summer for the Sorensen Institute.  We were delighted to have such a strong and diverse applicant pool, and glad to see applicants from schools and parts of Virginia new to both programs."

The  College Leaders Program takes place May 30 - June 27.  The High School Leaders Program takes place July 11-25.  During the programs students will spend time learning more about government and politics in the Commonwealth, meeting with public leaders from across Virginia and traveling to different parts of the state to learn more about the diversity of Virginia's regions.  In addition, both groups will identify some of the pressing issues facing Virginia today and craft their own legislative solutions to these problems.

The members of the 2009 College and High School Leaders Program are:

College Leaders Program

Michele Alexander, Springfield, University of Mary Washington
Trent Armitage, Farmville, Longwood University
Sarah Bowers, Portsmouth, University of Richmond
Jarrett Brotzman, IL  Washington and Lee University
Lindsay Chapman, Virginia Beach, Virginia Tech University
Derek Chaudhuri, Harrisonburg, Blue Ridge Community College
Patrick Crute, Chesapeake, Longwood University
Brian Diaz, Windermere, FL Liberty University
Tiffany Gibson, Midlothian, Old Dominion University
Lauren Gilbert, Alexandria, James Madison University
Chris Harts, Virginia Beach, Hampton University
Mallory Johnson, Burke, The College of William and Mary
TiffanyAnn Johnson, Hamden, CT, Virginia Commonwealth University
Jenna Klym, Mechanicsville, Virginia Tech University
Jacob Lambert, Christiansburg, Virginia Tech University
Andrew Lundsten, McLean, Christopher Newport University
Brian Marroquin, Arlington, Virginia Commonwealth University
Shamama Moosvi, South Riding, George Mason University
Joshua Owens, Midlothian, George Mason University
Lorenzo Paglinawan, Fairfax Station, University of Virginia
Abigail Quinn, Waterford, Hollins University
Waylin Ross, Norfolk, Old Dominion University
Jack Ruddy, Clifton, Hampden-Sydney College
Benjamin Soltoff, Sterling, James Madison University
Jesica Turner, Virginia Beach, Christopher Newport University
Scott Van Der Hyde, Chatham, Radford University
Karen White, Arlington, Northern Virginia Community College

High School Leaders Program

Emma Arata, Charlottesville
Benjamin Bakkum, Yorktown
Ann Baumer, Virginia Beach
Corrigan Blanchfield, Williamsburg
Zachary Brenton, Roanoke
Michael Casco-White, Alexandria
Benjamin Corbett, Suffolk
Natalie Cruise, Stafford
Thomas Daley, Richmond
Maria Decker, Falls Church
John DeVilbiss, Radford
Emma DiNapoli, Harrisonburg
Hollis Erickson, Waterford
Amy Friedman, Roanoke
Callaghan Guy, Richmond
Megi Hakobjanyan, Mechanicsville
Catherine Haley, Danville
Kevin Herbst, Goode
Whitney Hosey, Spotsylvania
Claire Hunn, Arlington
Aya Ibrahim, Alexandria
Trevor Langan, Roanoke
Jack Marshall, Richmond
Evan Maxwell, Midlothian
Caitlin Mealy, Richmond
Ashley Murphy, Roanoke
Muaz Rahman, Springfield
Alexandra Soroka, Virginia Beach
Alexandria Sutherland, Grundy
Ben Swanson, Vienna
Brea Thomas, Charlottesville
John Woolard, Virginia Beach

VIDEO: WVPT Showcases Sorensen's Youth Programs
Mar 23 2009 - 3:30pm

WVPT Public Television recently broadcast this program about the Sorensen Institute's Youth Programs. Guests included Sorensen's Marc Johnson (CLP 2003) and alumni Maribel Castaneda (HSLP 2008) and Martin Mash (CLP 2005). Enjoy! 

PODCAST: Sorensen's College and High School Leaders Programs
Feb 20 2009 - 1:11pm


Emma Yackso (HSLP 08) and Sorensen's Director of Programs Marc Johnson (CLP 03) were guests yesterday afternoon on "Charlottesville—Right Now!" to discuss the College and High School Leaders Programs. Applications are now being accepted to both programs until March 2.

PODCAST: WVTF Profiles Sorensen Youth Programs
Feb 18 2009 - 2:25pm

Public Radio station WVTF recently ran this story about the Sorensen Institute's College and High School Leaders Programs, which are currently accepting applications to the 2009 summer classes.

Charlottesville Newsplex Promotes Sorensen Youth Programs
Feb 5 2009 - 12:45pm

The Charlottesville Newsplex is today at work on a story about the Sorensen Institute's College and High School Leaders Programs. Applications are now being accepted through March 2 for the 2009 summer program season. Click here to learn more.

Sorensen's Assistant Director and Director of Programs Marc Johnson (CLP 2003) was interviewed for the story (at left in photo) along with Samantha Law (HSLP 05) and Colin Hood (HSLP 07). Both Law and Hood are now second-year students at the University of Virginia.

The story will run later today throughout Central Virginia on the CBS, ABC, and Fox local news programs. We will post a link to the story when it is available online.

Sorensen Announces 2009 Youth Program Managers
Jan 28 2009 - 12:56pm

The Sorensen Institute is proud to announce its 2009 Youth Program Managers: Paul Brockwell, Ashley Bacon-Ward, and Joe Stanley—all of whom are graduates of the Sorensen Institute.
Our Youth Program Managers play a vital role in the success of both the College and High School Leaders Programs.  The Managers live in the residence halls with the students, provide on-site mentoring and supervision, and offer valuable guidance to the class participants.

Marc Johnson, Sorensen's Director of Programs, commented "We are delighted to have these three Sorensen alumni coming back to join us this summer.  Their collective experience working with Virginia government and politics, and their personal leadership success, make them all excellent choices to work with our students."
Sorensen selects its Program Managers from among the alumni of the College and High School Leaders Programs.  We are honored that Paul, Ashley, and Joe will be joining us for the 2009 youth program season.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2009 CLP and HSLP.  For more information on applying, please click here.

Ashley Bacon-Ward of Amelia, Virginia will graduate this spring with a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Texas A&M University. In 2007 she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree Political Science and a minor in Latin American Studies.  While at VCU Ashley served as the student representative to the Board of Visitors and a Senior Resident Assistant.  Ashley has interned for Delegate R. Steven Landes and served as a Governor’s Fellow in the Secretariat of Commerce and Trade and Technology.  Ashley is a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2005.
Paul Brockwell of Richmond, Virginia is currently the Conflict of Interest Director in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office and was previously a Governor's Fellow and then Special Assistant in the Secretariat of Agriculture and Forestry.  He is a 2007 graduate of William and Mary where he majored in Religious Studies and minored in Middle Eastern Studies.  While at William and Mary Paul served as a Head Resident, on the Undergraduate Honor Council, with Global Village Project, and in Student Assembly.  He is a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2004.

Joe Stanley of Kents Store, Virginia will graduate this spring from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Political Science.  Joe currently works as a Policy Fellow for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.  He has also served as the interim Legislative Assistant Delegate Franklin Hall.  At VCU Joe has served as the Director of External Affairs for the Student Government and as a Charter Member of Students Helping Honduras, as well as volunteering as a tutor.  Joe is a graduate of the High School Leaders Program Class of 2005.


Dr. Shields to Seek GA Seat
Jan 9 2009 - 11:00am


Dr. Tom Shields, a veteran member of the faculty for Sorensen's youth programs, has recently announced his intention to seek election to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Tom is on the faculty at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and is director of the Center for Leadership in Education at the University of Richmond. He intends to run in the 73rd District, which centers around Henrico just northwest of Richmond, and is now represented by Delegate John O'Bannon.

Tom released this statement, "My teaching at Sorensen and my association with the organization has had an incredible impact on me and why I'm running for the House of Delegates. Like many of the participants in the programs in which I have taught, I decided it was time that I stopped talking about being civically engaged and 'walked the walk.'  Like the Sorensen mission, I've never believed in labels, such as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. I'm running because it is time for the next generation of leadership to put into practice how we might better our Commonwealth and how we should put our family's first."

Click here to visit Tom's website.

Click here to visit the website of incumbent Delegate John O'Bannon.


Va. State Board of Education Commends Sorensen's HSLP
Nov 20 2008 - 11:14pm

The Virginia State Board of Education today endorsed the Sorensen Institute's High School Leaders Program. Board President Mark E. Emblidge issued the following commendation:

The Virginia Board of Education commends The Sorensen Institute High School Leaders Program.

WHEREAS, the Sorensen Institute High School Leaders Program, under the inspired and creative leadership of Mr. Bob Gibson, Executive Director, and Mr. Marc Johnson, Assistant Executive Director and Director of Programs, prepares young people to become effective future leaders and to become ethical and responsible citizens of the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, the High School Leaders Program is a testament to the lasting and positive effects of energetic and sustained hard work to bring together all areas of the community dedicated to promoting civic engagement and public service and to improving communities for all citizens;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the members of the Board of Education salute the Sorensen Institute for its High School Leaders Program and extend sincere appreciation for the valued and committed leadership shown on behalf of the young citizens of Virginia.

Adopted in Richmond, Virginia, This Twentieth Day of November in the Year 2008.

HSLP 08 Graduation!
Jul 26 2008 - 6:48pm















Congratulations to the Sorensen Institute's High School Leaders Program Class of 2008. The class celebrated their graduation this morning at a ceremony in the historic dome room at the University of Virginia Rotunda. The board members, alumni, and staff are very proud to welcome you to the Sorensen family!

Look for photos and video of the graduation here in the Newsroom in the next few days.

HSLP 08 Day 15, Saturday July 26
Jul 26 2008 - 5:09pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2008
Day 15, Saturday, July 26
Reported by: Richard Murphy and Amber Wiley-Vawter

     This morning I sadly began to pack and pawn off all the food my roommates never ate. After booking it through the shower and dressing in a cross between business professional and business casual, because apparently everyone likes wearing suits except me, I joined my classmates and walked to class.
     There was a general air of anticipation as we all thought of what was ahead. These thoughts continued all the way through the graduation ceremony: Some girls cried, some middle names were mis-pronounced, but overall the graduation was amazing. Madison got up and gave her grown-up woman speech; Emily explained how we were mischievous little monkeys; and Jamie talked about what we all take away from this experience. Next was the honored speaker and then came the big moment when we all received our diplomas. Every one of us felt a little surge of pride as we got our validation for the politics boot camp.
     Last of all was the slideshow and the closing remarks by MJ. Everyone was sad as we filed out of the room to the reception, some people introduced their families, some people cried, but mostly everyone was just happy that we all made it through. After a stirring rendition of “Goodbye Love” with Michelle, the “fives”and I headed back to Bice Hall to finish packing and say our goodbyes.
     First came the packing. Throw all dirty clothes into suitcase: check. Throw all clean clothes into hamper: check. Pray that you don’t forget anything: check. The first to go from room 204 was McCullough, a suitemate that I know I’ll be missing later tonight when its midnight and I have no one to gossip about my roommates with. Then went Daniel, my ever so patient roommate, who accepted my tendency to sleep walk and even had the decency not to beat me. I left before Colin but it was all the more tragic. We all said so many goodbyes today to all of the friends we made at Sorensen.
     It’s so hard to believe that everyone became so close after just two weeks; that a family grew out of 32 super cool high school kids. Unfortunately, all of the super cool high school kids had to have their rooms cleaned before they left, and for those of us who hadn’t washed dishes since the 14th, that meant cleaning out the substances from the dishes in the sink. After that fun little escapade, we returned our keys, said final goodbyes to all of the people we loved, promised to meet up before school started, and left the premises. I can’t speak for every member of the HSLP, but I know that this experience changed me and that I’ll always take the lessons I learned from my time at Sorensen with me in life. Thanks so much everyone, it was a great two weeks!
— Richard Murphy of Chesapeake, Norfolk Academy Class of 2009

     Today is graduation.  Tears are being shed yet we all carry a smile.  The class of 2008 survived through the stress, work and hardship; from it we were all reborn a new person, a better person.  Dressed in our finest we smiled and laughed as the last goodbyes were said.  We regret nothing.  We are the Class of the 2008 Sorensen Institute.
     The room was getting quiet as parents, friends and sightseers shifted into their seats waiting for the speaker to begin.  We were surrounded by white arches beautifully set in a room designed by Thomas Jefferson called the Rotunda.  Bob Gibson began the graduation by fondly listing the class’s obsession with the dart game. A game that involves shooting people with imaginary darts, thus forcing them to the ground for forty-five seconds. Incidentally the only way to protect yourself was cover you neck, thus a large majority of our pictures have students covering their necks in fear.  
     Elected by our class as speaker for graduation, Martina Hairston gave a wonderful speech; many of us were brought to tears.  Then once again to have our hearts lightened as she called out ‘Hey Sorensen’ with the class responding with ‘Hey What?’  Marc Johnson gave the Spirit of Citizenship Award to Caroline Wulf and Mitch Caudill.  The Honorable Paul Harris, Vice Chairman of the Sorensen Institute spoke of the young leaders in the world and the passion and change they would bring.  Presenting the diplomas were Ms. Madison Bush, Jamie Lockhart, and Emily Reijmers; each spoke of how they would dearly miss us and rejoiced in the fact that their torment was over.  All three suffered some form of abuse such as refusing to follow curfew rules, pranks that involved loss of beds, spoon filled purses and much more. Although despite all the above they were there for us in any way possible and expressed how much they cared and would miss us. Diplomas in hand, we moved down to the reception where we nibbled on refreshments and said our last goodbyes, camera flashes and all. The two-week Sorensen Leadership Program was over; however the memory and impact it had on our lives will stay strong in all of our hearts, for we are the Class of 2008.
— Amber Wiley-Vawter of Floyd, Floyd County High School Class of 2009

Featured Alumni

  • Bobby Mathieson.jpg

    Bobby Mathieson

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 1999

    Bobby is a U.S. Marshall serving Virginia's Eastern District.

    He was a Virginia Beach police officer from 1975 to 2002, retiring as a master police officer. He later held a leadership post in the state Department of Criminal Justice and was subsequently elected to the Virginia House of Delegates where he represented the 21st District.