PLP Class of 2007

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Imad Damaj
Dec 3 2007 - 11:07am

Name: M. Imad Damaj
Born: Beirut, Lebanon
Current Digs: Richmond, Virginia
Occupation: Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Virginia Commonwealth University
Favorite part about the job: Being a researcher and an educator. Finding new cures for neurological diseases is a very important and rewarding job.  Training future researchers for our nation is a tremendous fulfillment.  It is wonderful to be a part of such a great work.
Favorite book? The Children of Abraham by F.E. Peters. It is a historical survey of the formative development of the shared traditions of Jewish, Christians and Islamic thought and practice.  His premise: dialogue among them is imperative for peace in the world.
Favorite movie? Several: Forest Gump, Gettysburg, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Cold Mountain, and many others.
Must-see TV?  PBS and History channel
What's in your car CD player right now? A CD with old French songs.
Favorite vacation spot?  Anywhere in the mountains.
Last gift you received? A book.
Best advice you ever got? We the People!
Whom do you admire and why? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A model of a positive faith-based moral leader to uplift the nation.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be? Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers.
Describe a perfect day. Vacationing in the mountains.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?  I lived my teenage years through a civil war.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  To continue working on advocating a more fair, just and compassionate Commonwealth.  To continue working to affect change for others through the civic process.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Diane Kaufman
Nov 21 2007 - 10:08am

Name: Diane Kaufman
Born: Norfolk, Virginia
Current Digs: Norfolk, Virginia
Occupation: Virginia Port Authority
Favorite part about the job: Being an advocate for the Port. It is a tremendous asset to the Commonwealth that is growing at a phenomenal rate. It is wonderful to be a part of such a great agency.
Favorite book? The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 – 2000 by Paul Kennedy. It is a study of what has propelled hegemonic powers and what led them to their decline. His premise: that the cost of remaining great, especially the cost of sustaining a military, is the greatest predictor of a nation's ultimate decline.
Favorite movie? Sorry. Can’t do just one. Some people grew up with sports. I grew up with movies. My list includes: Wild Strawberries; La Dolce Vita; 8 ½; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; The General; The Godfather; Rashomon; Smiles of a Summer Night; Rear Window, Streetcar Named Desire, Psycho, Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List; Dr. Strangelove; Z; just to name a few.
Must-see TV?  No such thing, except for political talk shows.
Comfort food? Borscht and piroshky
What's in your car CD player right now? Don’t have a CD player in my car.
Favorite vacation spot?  Riga, Latvia; Chincoteague (Eastern Shore); New York.
Last gift you received? Pair of earrings.
Best advice you ever got? Do not let anything stand in the way of your dreams.
Whom do you admire and why? Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an inspiration and he worked tirelessly
to change the political system that was working to keep his race at a
distinct disadvantage.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why? Bill Clinton. This is not an original thought, but it is nice to remember that there was a time when being intelligent and an inspiration were considered an asset to the job. “Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.” August, 2004.
Describe a perfect day. Vacationing in Chincoteague with friends during migration, bird watching all day, rushing home for the sunset and happy hour, and then cooking and eating dinner; or doing museums with my New York friends all day and then going out for dinner.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?  I am an avid bird watcher.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  To continue working on political campaigns, to continue working as a political advisor, and to continue working to affect change for others through the political process.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Vivek Kundra
Oct 31 2007 - 11:11am


Name:  Vivek Kundra
Age: 32
Born: I was born in New Delhi , India.  I moved to Tanzania at the age of one and lived there until I moved to Gaithersburg, MD at the age of 11.
Current Digs: Washington , DC
Occupation: Chief Technology Officer, Washington, DC
Favorite part about the job:  The ability affect public policy in a substantive way
First job ever?  Worked as a telemarketer
Favorite book?  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Favorite movie?  Sholay
Must-see TV?  24, Law and Order, Three's Company, Meet the Press
Comfort food?  Plums
What's in your car CD player right now?  Hotel Costes
Next journey?  Sydney, Australia
Last gift you received?  A mug that my six-year-old niece in California made for me
Whom do you admire and why?  Mahatma Gandhi - he held no formal office, title, or property, yet was one of the most potent political forces in the last century
Best advice you ever got?  Free yourself to do the right thing
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  Bill Gates.  In 30 years he not only created a whole new industry, but is transforming public health and education.  From global health to education he is successfully tackling some of the world's toughest problems!
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?  My first language was Swahili; I moved to the US in 1985 and took ESL until 9th grade.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  To affect change as a public servant




Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Dan Carey
Oct 29 2007 - 8:42am

Name: Daniel Carey   
Age: 47
Born:  I was born in Tokyo, Japan.  My father was a fighter pilot and engineer in the Air Force, so we moved every 2 or 3 years.  Mostly, I went to elementary school in Maryland and North Carolina, junior high in Tampa, Florida, and high school in Hampton, Virginia.
Current Digs:  I live and work in Lynchburg.
Occupation:    Cardiologist
Favorite part about the job: Getting to help people and families in a very concrete and personal way, in a setting that has a sense of urgency if not drama, while using whatever personal, intellectual, and technical skills I can muster.
First job ever? The rule in my house was that you couldn’t mow lawns for money until you were 13.  I turned 13 in Tampa, FL, and mowed lawns year round there.  I learned you had to keep up, and that it is incredibly hot in Florida in the summer while mowing lawns with a push mower.
Favorite book? East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  It remains for me a great allegorical tale of America, about the movement from East to West, the relationship of past and present, and the playing out of good and evil.
Favorite movie?    The English Patient
Must-see TV?  Mad Men.  This is a highly stylized revisionist approach to American life and culture in the early 60’s.  It can be both poignant and cynical, and is extremely well written and acted.  Thank goodness for TiVo.
Comfort food? My wife’s rendition of shrimp and grits.
What's in your car CD player right now? Einstein:  His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson.
Next journey? Big Sky, Montana for skiing in February
Last gift you received?  A wrist watch from my wife.
Whom do you admire and why?  One of my enduring personal heroes remains Abraham Lincoln.  He has come to be revered, even in the South, as an almost prophetic figure in his quest for both preserving the Union and for ending slavery.  I think he is underappreciated, however, as a master politician, and he was consistently underestimated by his peers prior to his presidency.  He was a superb communicator who also had a strong sense of what change the political and social fabric could bear at any one time.  He knew where he wanted to take the country, but had a sense of pace grounded in the political realities of his day.
Best advice you ever got?  Dr. Ken Crispell, one of my mentors at UVA, met my then girlfriend Kim while out visiting in San Francisco.  He pulled me aside and said, “This one, Dan’l, is a keeper.”  He was so very right, and I have been honored that she has considered me “a keeper” these last twenty years.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Bill Clinton.  Whether you love him or hate him, the man certainly has ideas and knows how to communicate.  His political sense is still likely the strongest of all living presidents, and I would love to ask him a broad array of questions of how to move the country in a positive direction on a variety of fronts.
Describe a perfect day.  It would be a Saturday after a busy but productive week.  I would start with an early morning bike ride with friends on the Blue Ridge Parkway, returning home just after my wife and kids got their day going.  The day would be about running errands and doing chores together around the house, done with purpose but little time pressure.  We would then have a family cookout with great food and good but not great wine.  After dinner we would watch one of our favorite movies, such as October Sky or Pan’s Labyrinth. 
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? That I cry far too easily at movies, books, and songs that evoke a certain notion of courage, nobility, or self sacrifice.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  To transition my current service to one person or family at a time in my medical practice to service to the public at large.  I would like to make a difference as an elected or appointed official, building on my interests in education, health care, and environmental and energy issues.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Mark Seymour
Oct 26 2007 - 10:15am

Name:  Mark Seymour
Age:  49
Born:  I was born in 1958 in Arlington.  I grew up in Nokesville, Virginia.  Nokesville had a population of 150 when I left.
Current Digs: My family and I live in Broadway, Virginia (northern Rockingham County).  Although my office is in Staunton, my job also takes me to the conveniently-located 30 adjoining counties.
Occupation:   I am a Human Rights Advocate with the Office of Human Rights (Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services).
Favorite part about the job:  In this position I am able to represent individuals who have the least voice and least choice in their daily lives.                  
First job ever?  My first official job was at age 15 at Buckland Farm in Fauquier County.  I shoveled horse manure.  Any similarities with a future in politics are purely coincidental.
Favorite book?  For enjoyment of language and subtle humor, I would choose anything by Mark Twain.  For something more provocative and academic, I would choose the writings of philosopher-theologian-cultural critic Stanley Hauerwas.
Favorite movie?  It's a Wonderful Life.  This movie never grows old, and allows the viewer to experience a near full range of emotions.
Must-see TV?  After 25 years of owning near-death, primitive televisions given to us by well-meaning family members, my wife and I finally bought a nice television, only to realize that we had been conditioned not to watch TV.
Comfort food?  My wife hates this choice, but to my palate, sardines in oil represent the ultimate in comfort food.
What's in your car CD player right now?  B.B. King and Eric Clapton.
Favorite vacation spot?  Either the outer Banks of North Carolina or the area around Kilmarnock, Virginia.
Last gift you received?  A tin rooster.  You can't go wrong with roosters, tin or otherwise.
Best advice you ever got?  My father always had a practice of throwing away the directions to anything he was assembling.  I think the message in this advice was that ultimately you have to take ownership in what you do in can't blame the directions for the outcome.
Whom do you admire and why?  My family and I were recently privileged
to hear Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu speak.  From his speech and
self-deprecating humor, it was evident that he has maintained his sense
of optimism and humility, even in the face of circumstances which could
very likely form a person into a pessimistic self-promoter.  I hope
that I (and all of us) can exude a measure of Mr. Tutu's seemingly
tireless work on behalf of others while at the same time not growing
judgmental of others through constant contact with individuals who
share different goals, values, and visions.   
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  I would have dinner with my wife, our two sons in their 20's and our youngest son who is 13.  If we also invite the dog to the table with us, things get even more interesting.
Describe a perfect day.  A perfect day would be one in which I accomplish the things I normally do at work (assist others in protecting their rights), but by accident rather than by design.  This gives the sense of doing the right thing not because it is my job, but just because it's the rights also presupposes that I have the day off, which is the real answer to this question.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?  I have a Master of Divinity degree, which has actually proven to be a good, all-around degree in a variety of fields.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  I think there is much to be said for serving in a political office which is relatively local in scope and, for me, this would be House of Delegates, 26th district.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Val Jones
Oct 22 2007 - 12:52pm

Name:  Valarie A. Jones, Esq.
Age:  58
Born: I grew up in Petersburg
Current Digs: I live and work in Richmond
Occupation:  Deputy Secretary, State Board of Elections
Favorite part about the job:  Being a part of the team responsible for managing elections in the Commonwealth; listening to and interacting with others who have a passion for being a part of the electoral process in VA;
First job ever?  Working in a cafeteria at VA State University while in high school;  washing dishes and making cheeseburgers and milkshakes for the college students;
Favorite book?  The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Favorite movie?  The Way We Were
Must-see TV?  Sunday Morning
Comfort food?  Popcorn and Barbecue Potato Chips
What's in your car CD player right now?  Luther Vandross
Next journey?  Road trip to California
Last gift you received?  A friend came to see me from Arizona and spent the day with me and some of my high school friends
Whom do you admire and why?  Marian Wright Edeleman, civil rights lawyer and founder of Children’s Defense Fund; she truly epitomizes the essence of leadership: to serve the needs of the powerless and voiceless in this society.
Best advice you ever got?  Live a balanced life. Work hard and play equally as hard.   It passes much too quickly.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  Oprah Winfrey.  She is such a motivation and inspiration to others.  I would love to talk with her about what motivates her to be such a giving and caring person.
Describe a perfect day.  Spending the day with some of my good friends on the beach, including dinner and dancing;
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?  I have a tattoo (Asian symbol of a tortoise).
Ambition, political or otherwise?  I am interested in serving as an advisor to a political candidate, assisting others with political aspirations.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Bernard Coleman
Oct 16 2007 - 9:56am

Name:  Bernard C. Coleman III
Age: 28
Born: I was born in Alexandria and grew up in Fairfax.
Current Digs: I live in Springfield and work in Alexandria.
Occupation: Member Advocacy Specialist
Favorite part about the job: Interaction with my co-workers, our membership and playing a part in the public policy process.  I honestly can say this is the best environment and best company I will probably ever work for.  
First job ever?  Blockbuster Video as a Customer Service Representative.  I took the job for the fringe benefits— all the free movies I could watch seemed like a great reason.
Favorite book?  Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father and anything involving science fiction.
Favorite movie? Heat, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Million Dollar Baby, Shawshank Redemption.  I could go on and on…
Must-see TV?  I would definitely recommend Lost.  If you haven't seen it, you should.  Also, Heroes is excellent as well.
Comfort food? Cheesecake or Twizzlers
What's in your car CD player right now? I generally listen to my IPOD on shuffle but lately I have been listening to Common's new album Finding Forever.
Next vacation?  Key West, FL in January 2008.
Last gift you received? A Playstation game.
Whom do you admire and why? I've always liked Harold Ford, Jr. for his cool and collected speaking style as well as Barack Obama's ability to inspire and excite.
Best advice you ever got? The best advice always comes from my father.  If I had to sum up all of his advice and anecdotes, it would be, "Family first, remain faithful, don't cut corners, work hard, and be disciplined."
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Colin Powell.  I would be interested to get his take on the state of the nation and where he thinks the U.S. is heading.  I can also appreciate that Colin Powell served in both Republican and Democratic administrations and was able to work effectively in a bipartisan manner.
Describe a perfect day. My wife and I on vacation, somewhere warm, taking in the sights and enjoying the culture of a European city with no worries of work or worldly obligations; just us relaxing and enjoying life to the fullest.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I am more opinionated than I might seem.
Ambition, political or otherwise? I would like to run for political office but I am unsure as to what level.  I know that I want to make a positive impact in my community and improve the lives of fellow Virginians.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Eric Gregory
Oct 3 2007 - 11:35am

Name: Eric A. Gregory
Age: 34
Born: Richmond
Current Digs: Richmond
Occupation: Lawyer/Assistant Attorney General II
Favorite part about the job: Working with and serving my state agency clients and contributing to the shaping of public policy in a small way.  The state employees and public servants I work with on a daily basis are dedicated to doing their best for the citizens of the Commonwealth and it is an honor to help them.
First job ever: I was a Ukrop’s Grocery Store Courtesy Clerk (bag boy) and it was a really positive experience.  The managers and entire company taught me a lot about honest hard work, integrity, service, and feng shui and the art of bagging groceries.    
Favorite book? Chesapeake by James Michener or One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke
Favorite movie?  Big Fish, Amelie, The Passion of the Christ, and Saving Private Ryan
Must-see TV? Nothing in particular.  But, I watch Fox News or the Outdoor Life Network from time to time and my wife, Allison, and I enjoy the Travel Channel and Food Network sometimes.
Comfort food? Venison stew and crusty bread.
What’s in your car CD player right now? It’s on the fritz so nothing right now.  I just listened to 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (book on tape) and now I’m on to The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Books on tape are all I really listen to.
Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere with my wife; anywhere on the water, or Spain or Italy.
Last gift you received? Personal stationery from my wife for our first anniversary.
Best advice you ever got?  “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” – Mr. Stavredes, my high school principal. “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  -  Theodore Roosevelt
Whom do you admire and why? I admire Theodore Roosevelt a great deal.  His life exemplifies the virtues of integrity, leadership, service, self-reliance, and straightforwardness that I admire.  I also admire those who selflessly serve others for the common good.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? After my wife, either Pope Benedict XVI, Henry Kissinger, or James Baker.   
Describe a perfect day.  Up early for a sunrise duck hunt with buddies, returning home by 9:00 for a nice breakfast and a walk with my wife, Allison, and the dog.  Then off fishing with my brothers and back home for a late afternoon cookout with family and friends.  Of course, that will all probably be revised to include diaper changes and naps after our first child is born in November.    
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you? Dude, my hair was down to my shoulders when I was in college.
Ambition, political or otherwise? I hope to serve the people of our Commonwealth in some capacity, whether in elected or appointed office; to help improve our society; and to help others help themselves. We’ll see.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Tack Richardson
Oct 1 2007 - 8:52am

Name: V.B "Tack" Richardson III
Age: 27
Born: I was born and raised in Alexandria, VA.
Current Digs: Alexandria, VA and Washington DC.  Washington is absolutely a world class city, beautiful architecture, an educated populace, tons of culture, great dining, etc. And, Alexandria, my hometown, is one of a kind. History, old neighborhoods, and a real sense of community are abundant.
Occupation: Legislative Aide for Senator John W. Warner
Favorite part about the job: The energy and the impact. Capitol Hill always has such a buzz, you can feel it in the Halls, on the Senate floor, even in the coffee shop. On any given day, the things you work on have an impact.  In the end, it's nice to know that things I do on a daily basis have a positive effect on the State in which I was raised.
First job ever?  I was 15 when I had my first job as a deck hand on a dinner boat cruising out of Alexandria, VA.  I assisted with the ship's operation and made sure everything remained in "ship shape."  It was a great way to be on the water, although in the future I might try to find a way to avoid cleaning the heads.
Favorite book?  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  It's simply a timeless classic with a very powerful message.  Of local interest, I really like Bay Country by Tom Horton.  There's no better book about the Chesapeake.
Favorite Movie?  Recently speaking, the movie about the life of Johnny Cash, Walk the Line.  
Must-see TV?  Redskins Football
Comfort food?  Steamed Crabs
What's in your car CD player right now?  James Taylor, Johnny Cash, Paolo Nutini, and a bluegrass/country mix.  The Band also makes it into the rotation sometimes.
Favorite vacation spot?  Charleston, SC.
Last gift you received?  A box of "Turtles" (the chocolate, caramel, and pecan candies).
Best advice you ever got?  Be yourself.
Whom do you admire and why? The
world is full of people whom I admire, and choosing just one is a tough
task.  Off the top of my head, although I am an Episcopalian and not
Catholic, I'd say Pope John Paul II because he lived and died with
dignity and grace.  He also had an amazing ability to connect with
people.  Also, many of America's great philanthropists used their
wealth to make the world a better place.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  Tiger Woods in the hope that he could fix my golf game.  I'd also love to pick his brain about his drive to compete.  I love competition.
Describe a perfect day.  Spending a sunny day on the Chesapeake, followed by a crab feast with beers and family and friends.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?  As a friend recently told me, I'm the same guy I was in kindergarten, so I'm not sure there's too many surprising things to learn about me.  However, most people might be surprised to know that I took kindergarten twice!
Ambition, political or otherwise?  Politically, undecided.  Otherwise, to be able to swim, fish, sail, and splash around the Rappahannock River with my kids and grandkids as an old man.  Sharing one of the joys of my life with them would be a treat.

Political Leaders 2007 Profile: Margaret Sacks
Sep 10 2007 - 9:58am

Name: Margaret Sacks
Born:  Walter Reed Hospital in DC since my dad was in the Army. I grew
up in Fredericksburg, a quaint, personable town that now has been
consumed by Northern Virginia.
Current Digs: Arlington, VA
Occupation: Account Supervisor, Powell Tate, Weber Shandwick Public Affairs
Favorite part about the job: Coordinating relationships between the public and private sectors for results that benefit citizens.  Coolest part of my job is that part of my commute is walking past the White House.  That never gets old.
First job ever?  Baby-sitting throughout high school paid for movies and gas.  When I was 18, I taught summer tennis clinics full of 5-year-olds.  I learned that 5-year-olds with rackets that are bigger than they are should have plenty of room to swing.
Favorite book? Their Eyes Were Watching God
Favorite movie? Usual Suspects and Amélie
Must-see TV? Grey’s Anatomy
Comfort food? My Nannie’s Irish soda bread
What's in your car CD player right now? Saw Doctors, Liz Phair, Decemberists
Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere on the water, preferably on a boat
Last gift you received? My parents gave me a ring with my birthstone.
Best advice you ever got? Be civically engaged and politically active, but don’t let politics consume you life.
Whom do you admire and why? Karen Hughes.  I was impressed with her capacity to manage communications during a chaotic campaign. She demonstrated a strong ability to hold her own in an intimidating environment and did not conform her behavior or beliefs to gain favor with the media.  In her current role, I appreciate her advocacy of women’s rights throughout the world.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why? George Stephanopoulos. I was credulous of his transition from politico to legitimate reporter and analyst.  I think he has proven his credibility, and I would like to hear his inside stories.
Describe a perfect day. Sunday brunch with my extended family outside on the back porch, time in the hammock to read the Washington Post, and an afternoon hike.  
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I have my teacher’s license in high school social studies.  I am pathetically tone deaf, and that's why I will never karaoke.  
Ambition, political or otherwise? To finish grad school before balancing the demands of school and work get the better of me.