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PLP Alumni News
Vickie Williams (PLP 2005)
Sean O'Brien, Executive Director
Delegate John Cosgrove, State Board member and alumnus (PLP 1998)
Marc Johnson, Director of Youth Programs and alumnus (CLP 2003)
Andrew Almand (CLP 2006)
Carolyn Lincoln (PLP 2001, CTP 2002)
Tim Heaphy (PLP 2005)
A total of five awards were presented at the Sorensen Institute's 2006 Alumni Reunion on Saturday, October 14. The event was held at in the Grand Ballroom at the Jefferson Hotel. The awards were presented by Director of Alumni Relations, Coy Barefoot (other podcasts from the Reunion will be posted to this blog shortly).
The Most Enthusiastic Class Award--which recognizes the alumni class with the highest percentage turnout at the reunion--was given to both the High School Leaders Program Class of 2006 and the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005. The awards were accepted by HSLP 06 Class Chair Ellen Marsteller and PLP 05 Class Chair Cathie France.
The Most Generous Class Award--which recognizes the alumni class in which the greatest percentage of its members have given a personal donation to the Sorensen Institute during the past year--was presented to the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005. Class Chair Cathie France accepted the award.
PLP Class of 2005
The Most Philanthropic Class Award--which recognizes the alumni class that has generated, both personally and professionally, the greatest financial support for Sorensen during the last year--was given to the Political Leaders Program Class of 2001. Virginia Delegate, Sorensen State Board member, and class member Jennifer McClellan accepted the award.
The First Annual Service to Sorensen Award recognizes a graduate who has most given of his or her time, talents, and efforts in supporting the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership in the year since the last alumni reunion. This first-ever honor was awarded to Craig T. Fifer, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2003.
The First Annual Expression of Ideals Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has, in the year since the last alumni reunion, best represented the ideals at the heart of the Sorensen mission: a spirit of ethics, bipartisanship, and civic engagement. This first-ever award was presented to the Secretary of Virginia's State Board of Elections, Jean Jensen (Political Leaders Program Class of 1996).
The Sorensen Institute was well represented recently on a panel convened to discuss the present state and future of women serving in the Virginia General Assembly. A Women's Initiative Network event hosted by the law firm Hirschler Fleischer, the panel included Executive Director Sean O'Brien; Delegate, Sorensen alumna, and State Board member Jennifer McClellan; and Secretary of Administration and Regional Board member Viola Baskerville. During the presentation, Sean O'Brien discussed the following slide: an image which speaks volumes about the presence of men and women leaders at the state levelâ€”and the difference in their ages.
We want to congratulate alumnus and Virginia Delegate Chris Peace (Political Leaders Program Class of 2004) who has became a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. Chris was also recently hired to be the Executive Director of the Historic Polegreen Church Foundation which works to preserve the birthplace of religious and civic liberty.
The Reverend C. Douglas Smith, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005, and the Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, joined Coy Barefoot on "Charlottesville--Right Now" this past week to discuss a new study which reveals that more Virginians are having to go on food stamps.
Krysta Jones, a member of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006, has recently launched a new leadership organization that is aimed at getting more African-Americans elected to office in Virginia. The Virginia Leadership Institute was founded in May 2006 and just last week unveiled its new website.
Jones writes, "The organization emanated from my Master's thesis at George Washington University, where I studied the lack of black congressional representation in Virginia. There has been only one black Representative in Congress from Virginia since Reconstruction, Representative Bobby Scott of the 3rd district, and in 2001 there were less than 250 black elected officials across the state. We can do better."
She continues, "Despite a general increase in African-American office holders in the last 40 years throughout the South, Virginia has lagged behind. The VLI will increase training, networking and mentoring opportunities for blacks interested in running for office, and aims to conduct research on voter attitudes and barriers to electing blacks throughout the Commonwealth."
For more information please visit the website of the Virginia Leadership Institute.
Sorensen graduate Josh Israel (Political Leaders Program Class of 2004) is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Public Integrity. He and his team recently unveiled The Takings Initiatives Accountability Project, which seeks to better inform citizens about issues surrounding ballot initiatives related to "regulatory takings" of property.
Delegate Chris Peace of Virginia's 97th District, was a guest last week on "Charlottesville--Right Now." He discussed his freshman term in the House of Delegates and his take on the special session. Chris is also an alumnus of the Sorensen Institute, having graduated from the Political Leaders Program Class of 2004.
Cathie France, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005, has recently joined AGL Resources as Director of Governmental Relations in Virginia. Atlanta-based AGL is an energy-holding company that serves 2.2 million customers in six states through its utility subsidiaries, including Virginia Natural Gas in southeast Virginia.
Cathie will be responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the companyâ€™s federal and state legislative agenda. She will also serve as liaison with the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Congressional delegation and other governmental bodies.
Prior to joining AGL Resources, Cathie served as legislative counsel and director at the Vectre Corp., a public affairs agency in Richmond. And she was previously the chief legislative and political aide to State Senator Ken Stolle of Virginia Beach.
A leader among leaders, Cathie is a member of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Central Business District Association and president-elect of the Cape Henry Rotary Club. She is on the board of directors of Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads; a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #8; and an American Cancer Society Relay for Life Team Captain. She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and two children. Congratulations Cathie!
Tracy Thorne-Begland, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2004, is featured in an article in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch in which he comments on the scandal surrounding former Congressman Mark Foleyâ€”a man he has known for years.
Thorne-Begland, a Deputy Prosecutor with the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney's Office, concludes, "I don't believe a public servant is entitled to perpetuate a lie. You can't have it both ways. Public servants have
a duty to be honest and live their lives with integrity."