Political Leaders Program

Announcing the Candidate Training Program and Political Leaders Program Classes of 2016!
Jan 8 2016 - 1:34pm

We are delighted to announce the members of our first two classes of 2016. The Candidate Training Program participants will meet at Carter Hall from January 21-24th. The Political Leaders Program participants will meet for the first time in Williamsburg on March 17-19.  Congratulations to all!

2016 Candidate Training Program
Andreas Addison, Richmond
Angelia Allen, Portsmouth
Victor Angry, Woodbridge
Christopher Atkins, Berryville
Edward Champion, Blacksburg
Billy Chaney, Danville
John Flannery, Lovettsville
Bryan Horn, Henrico
Marques Jones, Henrico
Jeannie Keen, Salem
Joshua King, Woodbridge
George Lamb, Falls Church
Cathy Revell, Portsmouth
Garrett Sawyer, Richmond
John Williams, Morgantown

2016 Political Leaders Program
Christopher Atkins, Berryville
Eric Bagwell, Arlington
Phillip Blevins, Grundy
Jennifer Bowles, Martinsville
Diane Cullo, Alexandria
Ronique Day, Chester
Matt de Ferranti, Arlington
Joe Dillard, Jr., Norfolk
Bill Docalovich, Norfolk
Marvin Figueroa, Arlington
Albert Flores, Richmond
Mike Forehand, Fairfax
Leslie Frazier, Richmond
Roger Jarrell, Lexington
Elizabeth Jones, Alexandria
Vincent Jones, Richmond
Ben Keane, Arlington
Tommy Keefe, Sterling
Jeannie Keen, Salem
Tony Lucadamo, Charlottesville
Laurie MacNamara, Alexandria
Natalie Miller-Moore, Williamsburg
Wilson Paine, Reston
Jake Plummer, Tappahannock
Tony Riley, Portsmouth
Jon Russell, Culpeper
Don Shaw, Gainesville
Kalia Sokos, Richmond
CJ Stolle, Alexandria
Charles Sumpter, Alexandria
Ryan Touhill, Alexandria
Thomas Turner, Jr.,  Suffolk
Joe Valenti, Alexandria
Natale Ward, Hampton
Angie Youngen, Arlington
Cheryl Zando, Henrico

Announcing the Candidate Training Program and Political Leaders Program Classes of 2015
Jan 7 2015 - 12:49pm

We are delighted to announce the members of our first two classes of 2015. The Candidate Training Program participants will meet at Carter Hall from January 22-25th. The Political Leaders Program participants will meet for the first time in Williamsburg on March 19-21.  Congratulations to all!

Candidate Training Program Class of 2015
Dale Agnew, Crozier
Dave Belote, Virginia Beach
Candice Bennett, Lorton
Travis Bird, Fredericksburg
Gerald Goad, Woodlawn
Charlie Grammick, Warrenton
Chris Harris, Alexandria
Ben Hudson, Palmyra
Jeannie Inge, Charlottesville
Monte Johnson, Ashburn
Maral Kalbian, Boyce
Sean Lenehan, Alexandria
Angela Lynn, Charlottesville
Kenya Savage, Chantilly
Don Shaw, Gainesville
Fernando Torrez, Alexandria
Carlos Turner, Claremont

Political Leaders Program Class of 2015
Andreas Addison, Richmond
Lashrecse Aird, Petersburg
Suja Amir, Glen Allen
David Boling, Arlington
Butch Bracknell, Virginia Beach
Lisette Carbajal, Bealeton
Lakshmi Challa, Glen Allen
Melody Clarke, Eastville
Traci DeShazor, Alexandria
Stephanie Ferrugia, Alton
Kathy Galvin, Charlottesville
Bryan Green, Richmond
Jamal Gunn, Virginia Beach
Razi Hashmi, Arlington
Kristian Havard, Richmond
Meg Heubeck, Waynesboro
Matt Homer, Shenandoah
Ann Jennings, Mattaponi
Ken Johnson, Richmond
Jim Kelly, Williamsburg
Jessica Killeen, Alexandria
Michael Kreps, Alexandria
Dawn Matheson, Chesapeake
Phil Miskovic, Crewe
Chris Monioudis, Roanoke
Jibran Muhammad, Falls Church
Mike Mullin, Newport News
Irma Palmer, Charlottesville
Debbie Pickford, Springfield
Taylor Pool, Arlington
Eric Postow, Richmond
Caroline Romano, Arlington
Samantha Sedivy, Richmond
Andrew Sinclair, Portsmouth
Andrew Smith, Beaverdam
Jerri Wilson, Franklin

Applications now being accepted for 2015 PLP and CTP
Sep 8 2014 - 4:06pm

The Sorensen Institute is now accepting applications for the 2015 Political Leaders Program and the 2015 Candidate Training Program.  Applications will be accepted for both programs until 11:59pm on Monday, November 10, 2014.  More information about the programs, as well as application instructions, can be found on our Application Page

If you know someone who would be a good addition to either class, feel free to submit their information to us using our Referrals Page and we will get in touch with the prospective applicant.

"Across the Aisle" PBS Documentary
May 30 2014 - 10:26am

The 2008 public television documentary Across the Aisle follows the Political Leaders Program Class of 2007 during its 10-month program across Virginia.

Class members come face to face with their personal biases and political limitations by arguing against their own positions, breaking down political stereotypes, spending real time with their opponents, balancing a state budget, and touring state-run facilities to learn a new and highly functional approach to politics.

Across the Aisle is a poignant and personal story that reveals a new model for political leadership, in which the most powerful tools are civility, trust, and respect.

The documentary was produced courtesy of Fred Scott, a member of the Sorensen Institute's State Advisory Board. 


Announcing the Political Leaders Program Class of 2014
Jan 7 2014 - 11:07am

We are delighted to announce the Political Leaders Program Class of 2014. These participants will meet for the first time in Williamsburg on March 13-15 to begin their program. Congratulations to all!

Ross Airington, Richmond
Naila Alam, Herndon
Cash Arehart, Williamsburg
John Bolecek, Richmond
Steven Botello, Manassas
Jessica Bowser, Alexandria
Nicole Brenner, Richmond
Janet Brooking, Richmond
Linda Bryant, Chesapeake
Gretchen Bulova, Fairfax
Max Burns, Arlington
Nell Desmond, Staunton
Brian Elson, Alexandria
Hollee Freeman, Henrico
Jenni Gallagher, Blacksburg
Colin Hood, Arlington
Alex Johnston, Lynchburg
Amy Lamb, Callao
Amy Laufer, Charlottesville
Manuel Leiva, Leesburg
Dean Lynch, Chesterfield
Judy Lynch, Midlothian
Ashley McLeod, Virginia Beach
Michelle Millben, Alexandria
Eric Payne, Richmond
Dustin Rinehart , Virginia Beach
Scott Russell, Warrenton
Craig Schranz, Norfolk
Christi Sheffield, Charlottesville
David Skiles, Centreville
Barrett Stork, Virginia Beach
Jay Swanson, Alexandria
Adam Tolbert, Saltville
Tamikia Vasquez, Virginia Beach
Mark Vaughan, Midlothian
Chris West, Danville
Keith Wine, Glen Allen
Erica Woods-Warrior, Hampton

Thank you to all applicants and interviewers who took part in this year's extremely competitive selection process.

CLP 2013: Day 6 - Thursday, June 6
Jun 7 2013 - 12:05am

College Leaders Program Class of 2013
Day 6: Thursday, June 6
Reported by: Richard Pantele, Hampden-Sydney College and Rachel Brooks, the College of William and Mary).

Today’s programming was insightful. We began the day by splitting up into focus groups comprised of one member from each policy area. The purpose of doing this was to present our preliminary ideas to the other groups in order to receive constructive criticism and strengthen our policy proposals. We all found this process useful. Many of the groups found that the greatest weakness was a lack of statistical information. After the combined groups met, we brought the information we gained in the focus groups to the class as a whole. This enabled the class and the Youth Program Managers to sit and discuss each individual project. After speaking with many people in the class, I found that the general consensus was that the session enhanced the substance and direction of each group’s policy.

After a brief break, Mr. Jeff Britt and Mr. Felix Sarfo-Kantanka visited the class. Mr. Britt serves as a vice president of grassroots issues management at McGuireWoods Consulting. Mr. Sarfo-Kantaka also works at McGuireWoods and serves as their assistant vice president in the state government section of the firm. Both of these gentlemen provided valuable insight about working in the world of public affairs. I found these presentations to be useful because I aspire to obtain a career in political consulting. It was clear that the class enjoyed their enthusiasm and willingness to be honest about the sensitivity of their positions as well as their willingness to share their story about how they got to where they are. They provided a realistic view of what it takes to have a successful career in the field of public policy. One of the greatest strengths of their lecture was their description of how people who identify with opposing political parties can come together and make a strong, valuable team in organizations like McGuireWoods Consulting. It is always nice to hear from people who started their political careers at the Sorensen Institute and are now experts in their fields.

In addition to the speakers from McGuireWoods Consulting, we had a two other guests visit the Sorensen College Leaders Program classroom. Ms. Connie Jorgensen, an assistant professor of political science at Piedmont Virginia Community College, gave an enthusiastic and effective presentation on the legislative process. After trying to start a rousing rendition of the "I'm Just a Bill" song from Schoolhouse Rock, she explained the details of how a bill really becomes a law and how to improve the likelihood that a piece of legislation will pass. Doing research, finding a legislator to carry the bill and getting voter support are a few key components to success in the legislative process. Considering many people in the College Leaders Program plan to run for office, the legislative process was a relevant topic to the group’s interests and ambitions.

While we ate lunch, Ms. Barbara Kessler, the director of human resources and workforce development programs at the University of Virginia, presented a resume workshop. Ms. Kessler’s advice was constructive for all of us regardless of age or class year. We received input about what to include and leave off of our resumes as well as what common mistakes to avoid. Since we all have varying degrees of experience and different accomplishments, she collected our resumes to individually edit and return early next week. Sorensen activities like the resume workshop will benefit us in applications, interviews, and other career-oriented endeavors.

After Ms. Kessler’s presentation, we had a class session with Dr. Quentin Kidd on “The Informed and Thoughtful Citizen” in which we went over the Constitution of Virginia and discussed different articles. Despite some rain, the overall opinion of the day was that it was productive and interesting. The College Leaders Program will start off another productive day tomorrow at 9 a.m., and I am excited to see what the rest of the program brings. 

Sorensen Announces PLP Class of 2013
Dec 18 2012 - 11:41am

The Sorensen Institute is delighted to announce the names of those Virginians who have been accepted to the Political Leaders Program Class of 2013. The 2013 PLP will enjoy its first session together March 14-16 in Williamsburg.  Each of these Virginians has been recognized as an emerging community and statewide leader.  Congratulations to them all!

Katherine Acuff, Charlottesville
Lawrence Anderson, Richmond
Lettie Bien, Charlottesville
Jon Chasen, Locust Grove
Lee Coburn III, Glade Spring
Jacob Colley, Haysi
Tom Cosgrove, Williamsburg
Elizabeth Dietzmann, Virginia Beach
Frank Fannon, Alexandria
Tom Fitzpatrick, Richmond
Howard Foard III, Fairfax
Kimberly Geiger, Big Stone Gap
Danna Geisler, Chesterfield
Ross Grogg, Virginia Beach
Natalie Hart, Blacksburg
Carrie Hileman, Richmond
Mehmood Kazmi, Great Falls
Spencer Kimball, Alexandria
Patrick Knightly, Glen Allen
Lovely Lall, Leesburg
Ruth Larson, Williamsburg
Christopher Lindsay, New Kent
Andria McClellan, Norfolk
Suyong Min, Arlington
Barry Moore Jr., Chesterfield
Ashley Reynolds, Roanoke
Megan Rhyne, Williamsburg
Alejandra Santaolalla, Arlington
Thomas Scanlon, Arlington
Brandon Schall, Fairfax Station
Brian Schoeneman, Fairfax
Kanwar Singh, Richmond
Clarence Tong, Alexandria
Osmay Torres, Virginia Beach
Peg Willingham, Falls Church
Michael Wooten, Woodbridge

SLIDESHOW: PLP Weekend in Southwest Virginia
Sep 18 2012 - 5:50pm

The 2012 Political Leaders Program class visited Southwest Virginia last weekend, where they attended sessions on "Energy and Public Policy in Virginia" and "Heathcare Issues in Southwest Virginia." Beyond the classroom, they descended 3,000 feet into the McClure deep mine and attended Bristol's annual Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival.

You can view larger versions of these photos by choosing the fullscreen icon in the bottom right, or by clicking the Flickr logo to view the set on Flickr.

Sorensen Announces PLP Class of 2012
Dec 21 2011 - 8:00am

The Sorensen Institute is delighted to announce the names of those Virginians who have been accepted to the Political Leaders Program Class of 2012. The 2012 PLP class will enjoy its first session together March 15-17 in Williamsburg. Each of these Virginians has been recognized as emerging community and statewide leaders. Congratulations to them all! 

Rich Anderson, Woodbridge
Jenni Aulgur, Harrisonburg
Rick Batten, Williamsburg
Demas Boudreaux, Richmond
Julie Brown, Danville
Anjan Chimaladinne, Chantilly
Heather Cordasco, Williamsburg
Ryan Dunn, Goochland
Hunter Fairchild, Palmyra
Evan Feinman, Richmond
Todd Gathje, Mechanicsville
Clay Gravely, Martinsville
Phil Griffin, Winchester
Ann Harbour, Manakin Sabot
Lani Hay, Vienna
Mark Keam, Vienna
Charles Kelley, Richmond
Tammi Lambert, Woodbridge
Jamie Lockhart, Arlington
Brent McKenzie, Virginia Beach
Jeremy McPike, Woodbridge
Willa Neale, Charlottesville
Doug Palmore, Richmond
Jeffrey Pennington, Portsmouth
Tony Pham, Henrico
Cass Rasnick, Richmond
Cornelia Robinson, Alexandria
Amelia Ross-Hammond, Virginia Beach
James Schroll, Arlington
Stewart Schwartz, Richmond
Gerrie Smith, McLean
Catherine Tobin Mika, Glen Allen
Joe Topham, King William
James Toscano, Norfolk
Mick Vollmer, Chesapeake
Chris West, Alexandria

SLIDESHOW: PLP Weekend in Southside
Jun 1 2011 - 5:31pm

The PLP Class of 2011 met for the third time on May 20 when they paid a visit to Southside Virginia.

After tours of the Green Rock Correctional Facility and the Martinsville Speedway, the class headed to Ward Armstrong's house for a BBQ picnic and some Q&A with the House Minority Leader.

Saturday's session at Martinsville's Virginia Museum of Natural History focused on industry and workforce development, as well as Southside regional issues.

The class will reconvene on June 10 for the PLP's first-ever Lynchburg weekend.


You can view larger versions of these photos by choosing the fullscreen icon in the bottom right, or by clicking the Flickr logo to view the set on Flickr.

Featured Alumni

  • Pat Gottschalk.jpg

    Patrick Gottschalk

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2000

    Pat is a partner at Williams Mullen. He serves on the boards of the Virginia Economic Developers Association and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. Pat was Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade under Governor Tim Kaine.