PLP Class of 2010

PLP 2010 Profile: Julie Nisley
Dec 9 2010 - 1:00pm

Name: Juliet (Julie) Nisley
Age: 25 (and have been for several years now)
Grew up in: Fairfax County
Current Digs: Hanover County
Occupation: Senior policy analyst and intellectual property coordinator for VDOT
Favorite part about the job: Working with software and technology licensing
Your first job ever? Pet sitter
Favorite book? "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
Favorite movie? "American Beauty"
Comfort food? Home-grown yellow wax beans with real butter and bread crumbs
What's in your car CD player right now? Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Velvet Revolver's "Contraband"
Next journey? To be determined
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? The mountains
First political memory? Pressing the "Mondale" button for my mother in the voting booth
Whom do you admire and why? My brother because he stood up to social and parental pressure and followed his own dreams in life. He is also a wonderful person with a genuine heart and a concern for animals.
Best advice you ever got? Take the scenic route.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Michael Pollan because of his extensive knowledge of the food industry and concern for its impact on health, biodiversity, small farmers, and the environment. 
Describe a perfect day. It would be autumn, it would be warm and sunny, it would be in the mountains, and it would probably involve apple picking.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? Most people are surprised to learn that I don't want children, though I'm not sure why because it always seemed normal to me.
Ambition, political or otherwise? To live in the country, write books, and raise vegetables.

PLP 2010 Profile: John Chapman
Dec 2 2010 - 1:13pm

Name: John Taylor Chapman
Age: 29
Where you grew up: Alexandria
Current Digs: I work in Annandale and live in Alexandria
Occupation: After School Specialist
Favorite part about the job: Getting to work with kids and hopefully change lives in the process.
Your first job ever? I was a box office attendant for the Hoyt's Movie Theater in Potomac Yards. I loved it because I was able to see movies all the time!
Favorite book? "Autobiography of Malcolm X"  by Alex Haley
Favorite movie? "Bad Boys 2"
Comfort food? macaroni and cheese or moist chocolate cake!
What's in your car CD player right now? Lil Wayne's "No Ceiling" Mixtape (I am a Hip-Hop junkie!)
Next journey? Somewhere overseas hopefully–either South America for vacation or another mission trip to Haiti
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Virginia Beach, where my aunt and uncle live
First political memory? My grandmother saying not so nice things about a city council member after they made an appearance at her church
Whom do you admire and why? Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille because he came from a similar background as me (single parent, grew up in public housing) and he used his opportunities to go to college, start his own business, and serve on school board, city council and now as mayor. And with all of that, he is one of the most laid-back, "salt of the earth" people I know.
Best advice you ever got? "Work is not a bad four letter word." -Mr. Walton, my 7th grade history teacher
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? It would be a toss-up between the current president and his predecessor, because it would be very interesting to see the world from their perspective and because I don't think that the books they have written or speeches they have given really do them justice.
Describe a perfect day. Being able to video games ALL DAY LONG (and just for the record, I no longer play any video games, because I have had too many "perfect days")
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I am a lacrosse fanatic.
Ambition, political or otherwise? School Board or City Council in Alexandria

PLP 2010 Profile: Atima Omara-Alwala
Nov 11 2010 - 12:32pm

Name: Atima Omara-Alwala
Age: 29
Born: Providence, Rhode Island
Current Digs: Arlington, Virginia by way of the Metro Richmond area where I grew up.
Occupation: Field Director for Jim Moran for Congress
Favorite part about the job? Learning a lot about the 8th Congressional District and its politics, history and personalities.
Your first job ever? Burger King. I was an occasional cashier, but primarily burger king sandwich maker.
Favorite book: "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison.
Favorite movie: "The Godfather" (1 and 2)
Comfort food? Pasta.  It can be with meat sauce, pesto, or alfredo sauce. I love Pasta–that and chocolate.
What's in your car CD player right now? Madonna’s "Celebration" album. Pretty much anything from Madonna in the last 20 years I have on rotation in my CD player, plus Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Next journey?  Puerto Rico
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Charlottesville-Albermarle area, particularly in the fall. I went to U.Va. for college, and my first campaign job was in the area. Charlottesville-Albemarle and the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains showcase some of the best Virginia has to offer when it comes to its natural surroundings, all year long.
First political memory? My school's mock presidential election of 1988.
Whom do you admire and why: Nelson Mandela. As the daughter of two African immigrants, Mandela’s contributions to his nation, South Africa, and to black suffrage and empowerment across the continent of Africa, were impressed upon me from an early age. He was jailed for 27 years by the opposition, and when he left prison he was not bitter against those who imprisoned him. After negotiating peace, democracy, and suffrage for black Africans, he was elected to serve as South Africa’s first democratically-elected president. Then when he had a chance to be “president for life,” he stepped aside for the good of his nation. To this day, I still tear up remembering the lines that literally stretched across South Africa, as black Africans got up at dawn to walk several miles from their remote villages to cast their first vote. His commitment to his country at the risk of his quality of life reflects that of a true public servant. 
Best advice you ever got: "Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. When you stumble, keep faith. When you’re knocked down, get right back up. And never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on." –Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Hillary Clinton, hands down. Not only is she an icon of women’s political power, but she’s been through quite a bit of personal and professional ups and downs in the spotlight that would’ve taken down most people. She made it the farthest of any woman in her pursuit of the US Presidency. Say what you will about her, but that takes a certain level of steel not often seen in American politics (from men or women). I would love to  hear her stories and draw from her wisdom.
Describe a perfect day: I sleep until 9 or 10am.  After that I would enjoy a morning jog (the weather would be in the high 60s, low 70s) and have breakfast with friends. I would visit a museum or go hiking, certainly see the latest movie out in theaters and end the day chatting with friends about politics and pop culture over drinks and a great meal.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I have what has been described as an "incredibly random encyclopedic knowledge" of classic American film before 1980.
Ambition, political or otherwise? I haven’t decided whether I will run for local office, but my goal is to encourage more women in Virginia to consider running for higher office through training, mentoring and, if need be, working on their campaigns.


PLP 2010 Profile: Gloria Rockhold
Oct 26 2010 - 10:10am

Name: Gloria Maria Rockhold 

Birthplace and/or where you grew up: Born in Asuncion, Paraguay and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

Current Digs: Charlottesville, Virginia 

Occupation: Community Engagement Manager, Albemarle County Schools 

Favorite part about the job: Designing sustainable programs to motivate disengaged families in becoming active participants in the educational process of their children. 

Your first job ever? My first job was answering phones at my mother’s company when I was 10 years old. My first paid summer job was working at a bank one summer vacation in Asuncion, Paraguay, I was in 9th grade. 

Favorite book? One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez 

Favorite movie? Gentlemen’s Agreement 

Comfort food? Sweet juicy oranges and a specific variety of tangerines grown in Paraguay 

What's in your car CD player right now? Piazzola, JJ Cale, Cesaria Evora, Al Green 

Next journey? National Park of Sintra-Cascais, Portugal 

Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Blue Ridge Parkway in the Fall or Spring 

First political memory? Debating the pros and cons of the military dictatorship in Paraguay with my grandfather. Sitting in my uncle’s living room listening to him discuss Louisiana politics with Governor Jimmy Davis. 

Best advice you ever got? “Fools are those who think everyone else is a fool” 

If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Wangari Matthai because of her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation as well as empowering women. 

One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I survived being run over by a train. 

Ambition, political or otherwise? To help grow Latino/Hispanic leaders and inspire active participation in the democratic process.

PLP 2010 Profile: Chris Obenshain
Oct 7 2010 - 12:17pm

Name: Chris Obenshain
Age: 31
Birthplace: Richmond (birthplace) and Roanoke (where I grew up)
Current Digs: Richmond again, by way of Radford (I apparently like cities that start with 'R')
Occupation: Assistant Attorney General
Favorite part about the job: The uninterrupted sleep I get at night
Your first job ever? I had a brief career as a child actor, the highlight of which was appearing in a couple national TV ads for S&K Menswear stores. That was until they hired Johnny Bench and crushed my prepubescent dreams.
Favorite book? A Guidebook to Virginia's Historical Markers
Favorite movie? Top Gun
Comfort food? Pralines and Cream Ice Cream
What's in your car CD player right now? My 6-Disc changer right now has Kenny Chesney, Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, The Who, Carbon Leaf and Sublime
Next journey? A four-city baseball trip next spring and a visit to Germany next fall
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Blacksburg on Saturdays in the fall. Nowhere else even comes close.
First political memory? I think the fact that I was at the famous 1978 Virginia Republican convention in utero is probably to blame for me being the way I am today. The first politician I vividly remember is Ronald Reagan speaking to the nation after the Challenger disaster.
Whom do you admire and why? I have great admiration for my favorite President, James K. Polk. Even after being defeated for re-election as Governor of Tennessee and declared politically dead, he managed to come back two years later to defeat a former President for his Party's nomination and then defeat perhaps the most powerful politician of his day, Henry Clay, for the Presidency. He set clear goals for his Presidency and he achieved them all in only four years. He also stuck to his principles in declaring that he would only serve a single term and then honoring that pledge despite his success. Polk's unique combination of courage, vision, and integrity are certainly to be admired.
Best advice you ever got? "The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do." I got that from a fortune cookie.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Sean Connery, because he is just so darn cool.
Describe a perfect day. Waking up on the family farm in Montgomery County on a cool crisp fall morning, a hot breakfast and shower, putting on the orange and maroon, tailgating with friends, watching the Hokies notch another 'W', spending the rest of the evening eating, laughing, and talking sports and politics with family and friends. I have had many days like this, and it never gets old.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I am one-quarter Armenian.
Ambition, political or otherwise? To help elect the first Virginia-born President since Woodrow Wilson.

PLP 2010 Profile: Kathryn Falk
Sep 27 2010 - 9:51am

Name: Kathryn Falk
Age: young
Grew up in: Great Falls, Virginia
Current Digs: Live at Reston Town Center, work in Virginia
Occupation: V.P. Government Affairs, Cox Communications
Favorite part about the job: every day is different
Your first job ever? Docent at Colvin Run Mill historic site in Great Falls, VA and Wolf Trap Farm Park in Vienna, Virginia.
Favorite book? Eat, Pray, Love and Seabiscuit
Favorite movie? Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
Comfort food? Lasagna
What's in your car CD player right now? Black Eyed Peas, Al Green, Sheryl Crow, Donna Summer
Next journey? New York
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? The Homestead, Wintergreen, and Kingsmill
First political memory? Moving to DC from Arizona for my Dad’s new political job
Whom do you admire and why? Colin Powell
Best advice you ever got? “Life is action and passion and those who fail to participate in the actions and passions of their times, run the risk of being judged not to have lived at all.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Warren Buffett or Bill Gates
Describe a perfect day. Sunshine, cool breeze, blue sky, turning leaves, my family
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I like skeet shooting.
Ambition, political or otherwise? Live every day to the absolute fullest.

PLP 2010 Profile: Kim Klingler
Sep 23 2010 - 11:47am

Name: Kimberley (Kim) Erin Klingler
Age: 32
Birthplace: Father was Coast Guard so we moved around a bunch (Kodiak Alaska included). However, I went to high school in Gambrills, Md.
Current Digs: Live in Arlington, VA, work in the Metro DC area.
Occupation: Health IT & Clinical Transformation Consultant
Favorite part about the job: Developing a strategic vision and developing an approach, plans, teams, and implementing. Working with people who truly want to improve the quality of healthcare, patient engagement, and clinical outcomes.
Your first job ever? File Clerk in a doctor’s office – trying to stuff monster files in small file cabinets… many paper cuts. Foreshadowing regarding my current employment. Also, a Gymnastics Instructor/Coach – I spent my time either trying to get 3 years olds to stay on their magic carpet squares, spotting students much taller than me, and/or getting pre-teeners ready for team competition. I also spent much time digging students/gymnasts out of the pit.
Favorite book? I go through phases. Mystery (Patricia Cornwell), Non-Fiction (Guns, Germs, and Steel and Beirut to Jerusalem), Asian/Mid East Culture (Memoirs of a Geisha, Shogun, Three Cups of Tea), Historical Fiction (James Michener)
Favorite movie? More phases. Spy Games, Bourne Series, Fried Green Tomatoes, Harry Potter
Comfort food? Pasta, Chocolate, and Red Wine
What's in your car CD player right now? Journey and U2 Greatest Hits
Next journey? Prioritizing my volunteer activities with my career
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Lake Anna, Lake Sherando and the vineyards
First political memory? Having a neighborhood kids voting booth: Bush vs. Dukakis and taking pictures of my parents before they attended the Bush Inauguration.
Whom do you admire and why? My teachers and my mentors. They have helped me become the person I am today and continue to guide me.
Best advice you ever got? Don’t take yourself to seriously. If you oppose, propose. And teat others as you would treat yourself and/or your mother.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Nelson Mandela
Describe a perfect day. Sleeping in, walking the dogs, admiring nature with good friends, good food, and good choice beverages
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I was a high jumper in high school
Ambition, political or otherwise? Being elected to local office and really being able to influence the health and wellness of a community.

PLP 2010 Profile: Joel Andrus
Aug 16 2010 - 1:18pm

Name: Joel Andrus
Age: 28
Birthplace: Portsmouth, VA
Current Digs: Norfolk, VA
Occupation: Government Relations Consultant
Favorite part about the job: Getting to work with different industries across Virginia.
Your first job ever? Busboy at a seafood restaurant in Portsmouth. I hated working there, but it was the most money I had ever seen at 15.
Favorite book? The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
Favorite movie? I like all the Wes Anderson films.
Comfort food? Spaghetti
What's in your car CD player right now? I don't think there is a CD in my CD player right now. I am an NPR junkie.
Next journey? Minnesota to visit friends.
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Shenandoah Valley
First political memory? Voting in a mock presidential election in elementary school.
Whom do you admire and why? John McCain. Regardless how you feel about his politics, McCain is the quintessential modern day citizen-solider.
Best advice you ever got? "None of is dumb as all of us."
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Steve Jobs. He turned Apple from the brink, and created products we never knew we needed, but can't live without.
Describe a perfect day. I love to spend time outdoors, whether it is hiking Virginia's mountains in the spring or fall, skiing out West in the winter, or a day at the beach in the summer.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I try to practice yoga a couple of times a week.
Ambition, political or otherwise? As of right now, I am really enjoying my work and plan on doing this for at least a while longer. I truly feel that I get to make difference in Virginia, and am looking forward to new challenges and opportunities in the future.

PLP 2010 Profile: Douglas Gebhardt
Aug 16 2010 - 1:04pm

Name: Douglas Gebhardt
Age: 40
Birthplace: Peoria, IL
Current Digs: James City County / Williamsburg, VA
Vice President of a Contracting Company
Favorite part about the job:
Closing a deal
Your first job ever?
Paper route – I rode my bike through the neighborhood delivering newspapers.
Favorite book? What’s So Great About America by Dinesh D’Souza
Favorite movie?
Remember The Titans
Comfort food?
A prime cut of steak
What's in your car CD player right now?
Nothing…I typically listen to Satellite Radio
Next journey?
Sunset Beach, NC
Favorite Virginia vacation spot?
Shenandoah Valley & Blue Ridge Parkway Area
First political memory?
Election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Whom do you admire and why?
Rev. Fr. Robert Sirico President and Co-Founder of the Acton Institute, the mission of which is “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles”.
Best advice you ever got?
Be yourself and do not be concerned with what others think.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?
Rev. Fr. Robert Sirico (see above) to discuss his work at the Acton Institute and the connection between virtue and economic thinking.
Describe a perfect day.
Begin the day with a vigorous physical workout followed by a spiritual “workout”. Spend time with my three magnificent children (i.e. playing sports / games, taking them to Busch Gardens, etc.). Conclude the day by getting a baby sitter for the kids and taking my wife out for a nice evening dinner.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?
Good question…I think they’ll have to figure that out on their own.
Ambition, political or otherwise?
Follow God’s intended path for me, be it continued success in business, serving in some political capacity, and / or something that has not yet been revealed to me.

PLP 2010 Profile: Dave Butler
Aug 13 2010 - 2:47pm

Name: Dave Butler
Age: 52
Birthplace: Born and raised in Oswego, NY, outside of Syracuse. Snow country!
Current Digs: Live in Leesburg, work in Sterling. Both in Loudoun County.
Occupation: Chief Security Officer for N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc.
Favorite part about the job: Seeing evidence of information security awareness among the employees, knowing that I'm making a difference.
Your first job ever? I had a Sunday paper route when I was 11. I would fill my wagon with the newspapers at 5:00am and drag them all throughout the neighborhood.
Favorite book? Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. The Lord of the Rings is a close second.
Favorite movie? Star Trek IV (or Star Trek II? Star Trek III? Star Trek?)
Comfort food? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What's in your car CD player right now? Audio books. Helps make the daily commute easier. Mostly from David Baldacci and Stuart Woods.
Next journey? In July, taking my two sons to Canada. They've never been outside the U.S. before.
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Visiting my niece and her family in Floyd. Beautiful family, beautiful country.
First political memory? Getting public water down my street 20 years ago. Found out people can get really wound up about something that I thought would be an easy sell.
Whom do you admire and why? Fred Shaufeld, my company's Chairman and Founder. He took $79 and started a company, essentially in his dorm room. The company now has over 5,800 employees, and the $79 has turned into "quite a bit" more. Fred has always focused on customer and employee satisfaction, and still is active in the company. I'm not normally easily impressed, but I sure couldn't have done what he's done.
Best advice you ever got? Always question whether it's worth it to be right if you are likely to lose a friend.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Probably Bill Clinton. I would love to know what it's really like being President, and how you cope.
Describe a perfect day. Sleep late. Eat pancakes for breakfast. Play outside with my sons. Go to a Nationals game with them and my wife. Catch a foul ball.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I've been to way more than my life's quota of Operas.
Ambition, political or otherwise? Wherever it takes me; wherever I can add the most value.

Featured Alumni

  • Chuck Smith.jpg

    Chuck Smith

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2005

    Chuck is a self-employed attorney and current candidate for Virginia Beach City Council. He is a a former Marine and U.S. Navy JAG Officer (Retired). From 2006 to 2008, Chuck served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.