PLP Alumni News

Young and Old, Men and Women: the Virginia General Assembly
Oct 27 2006 - 8:11pm

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 level—and the difference in their ages.

Peace Joins D.C. Bar
Oct 26 2006 - 8:56am

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.

Alumnus Doug Smith on "Charlottesville--Right Now"
Oct 23 2006 - 7:38am

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.


PLP's Krysta Jones Launches Leadership Organization
Oct 19 2006 - 9:23am

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.


Alumnus Israel Unveils New Project at Center for Public Integrity
Oct 11 2006 - 8:50am

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.

Chris Peace on "Charlottesville--Right Now"
Oct 9 2006 - 9:00am


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.


Alumna France Joins AGL Resources
Oct 8 2006 - 11:41am


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 company’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!

Thorne-Begland in the RTD
Oct 5 2006 - 8:12am

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 Foley—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."

Click here to read the full article.

Sorensen Graduates Among Top Richmond 40
Oct 3 2006 - 11:40am

Richmond's Style Weekly recently announced its annual "Top Forty Under 40"— its list of the "most remarkable young men and women [who are] inspiring and serving others, changing our community for the better and exuding an enthusiasm about Richmond's present and future that you just might catch." We are proud to say that once again Sorensen is well represented on this list.

This year's Top Forty Under 40 includes Courtney Malveaux, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 1996. Courtney is the Assistant Attorney General/Special Counsel Manager in the Office of the Attorney General. Click here to read Courtney's profile in the article.

The list also includes Jackie Jackson, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2002 and Vice President of the Richmond City Council. Click here to read Jackie's profile in the article.

And this year's Top Forty Under 40 also includes Tom Shields, Director of the Center for Leadership Education at the University of Richmond. Tom is a regular contributor, lecturer, and organizer for Sorensen's Youth Programs each summer. Click here to read Tom's profile.


Benavides Named New Director of Gubernatorial Appointments
Oct 2 2006 - 9:32am


Sindy Benavides, a member of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006, was recently named Director of Gubernatorial Appointments by Governor Tim Kaine. Benavides also serves as the Governor's Liaison to the Latino community here in Virginia.

Congratulations Sindy!

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.