Sorensen Staff

BREAKING: Sorensen's Announces New Staff Member!
Sep 12 2008 - 1:18pm


The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia today announced the results of its search for a new Development and Events Coordinator.

Rachel Casebolt has been selected for the position and has joined the Sorensen team.

Rachel is a 2005 graduate of the College of William and Mary where she studied Government and Religion. We are also proud to note that she is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute's College Leaders Program Class of 2005.

As Development and Events Coordinator, Rachel is responsible for the logistical arrangements for all Sorensen Institute programs and special events. She also provides support in the area of development, helping with donor stewardship and cultivation.  Before coming to Sorensen, Rachel oversaw the publications section of the National Drug Court Institute in Alexandria, Virginia.

"We are thrilled at the results of our search," said Sorensen's Executive Director Bob Gibson. "Rachel rose to the top of a highly qualified and experienced pool of applicants. She brings so much to the table, and we are fortunate to have her at Sorensen."

"Crossing the Aisle"
Sep 7 2008 - 8:48am

The Fall issue of Virginia Magazine includes Bob Gibson's account of his transition from a UVA student in the late 1960s to veteran political reporter to Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute.

Just as the University’s image and reputation grew during my four years from 1968 to ’72 and continues to flourish, I think Virginia can nourish and grow a spirit of service that would enhance the political and social atmosphere in our halls of government. I am happy to be back at the University working with dedicated individuals who share the same passion that made my first four years here such a great introduction to the civic and political realm that guides the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the full article.

Sorensen Announces Promotion for Johnson
Aug 6 2008 - 8:02am


The Sorensen Institute announced today that Marc Johnson, a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2003, has been promoted to Assistant Director and Director of Programs.

"I am excited at this new opportunity for me at the Sorensen Institute," Marc said. "Sorensen has been a wonderful place to work for the past four years and I continue to count myself privileged to be a part of an organization with such an important mission."

Executive Director Bob Gibson said, "Marc's hard work, dedication and familiarity with all aspects of Sorensen's mission make him an ideal director of the Institute's programs. He is a very capable and creative colleague, a great teacher, and I am fortunate to be able to turn to him as Sorensen's assistant director."

Marc recently earned his Master's Degree in Education from the University of Virginia, where he studied educational leadership, foundations and policy. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William & Mary with a degree in government, where he was awarded the James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup, given to one member of the graduating class on the basis of scholarship, character and leadership.

Sorensen Opens Search for New Staff Member
Jul 29 2008 - 10:09am

In a recent email to alumni, Sorensen's Executive Director Bob Gibson announced that Amber Capron (PLP 04) would be leaving our staff to pursue an exciting new opportunity, and that a search was underway to hire a new Development and Events Coordinator:

I am sorry to report that Amber Capron, our Development and Events Coordinator, is leaving the Sorensen Institute after three years of dedicated service to the organization.  As a Political Leaders Program graduate, we are excited to see Amber moving to a great new career opportunity with a nonprofit environmental institute, but as an outstanding member of the staff team, we are sad to see her go.

As a result, we have begun searching for someone to fill this position.  Potential applicants must use the Jobs@UVA system to apply for the job.  Please note that on the Jobs@UVA website, the job is listed under our parent organization here at UVA, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

We will begin review of applications in early August, so please encourage those who might be interested to apply online soon.  If you are interested, please follow the application protocol as outlined on Jobs@UVA.  Please forward this information to others who may be interested. — Bob Gibson

If you are interested in applying for or learning more about the position, please click here then under Search Postings, search for listings in the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service in which the Sorensen Institute is located.

"The Purpling of Virginia"
Jul 7 2008 - 10:09am

Dr. Quentin Kidd, Chairman of the Department of Government at Christopher Newport University and a faculty member of the Sorensen Institute's College Leaders Program since its founding, is the author of a fascinating essay on Virginia politics in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Dr. Kidd writes in part, Republicans argued for low taxes and small government, and this worked well electorally for the GOP in suburban Virginia. Why? Because middle-class suburban Virginians liked low taxes, and because they lived in relatively new communities, with relatively new infrastructure (such as schools and roads). Since many of them earned a good middle-class living and were relatively young (middle-age), they had little need for much government. The problems of the cities were distant. Suburban dwellers had good jobs that provided health care benefits, and while they might have had to drive a little further than they would prefer to get to work, it wasn't too unbearable.

However, as suburbanization rapidly increased in the 1990s and 2000s, some problems began to emerge that looked a lot like the problems cities have always had to deal with: schools became increasingly overcrowded and roads became unbearably congested. Suburban voters began to discover their desire for government and the services it provides. Republicans have had a hard time responding to these new suburban realities. The low-tax, low-services legacy that is at the heart of conservative Virginia is still an active and powerful influence in the Republican Party and it has caused Republicans to increasingly fall out of favor with suburban voters.

Kidd's take on modern Virginia politics is a must-read for anyone trying to get a handle on party politics in the Commonwealth today.

Click here to read the full article.

PODCASTS: Sorensen's Bob Gibson
Jun 24 2008 - 12:36pm

Check it out: Sorensen's Executive Director Bob Gibson is a frequent guest on radio stations across the Commonwealth to discuss Virginia politics.

Click here to listen to Bob on the public radio station WMRA from an interview a few days ago. Bob discussed the transportation challenge with host Tom Graham.

Click here to hear Bob's interview on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show from yesterday.

A Message from Sorensen's New Director, Bob Gibson
Apr 26 2008 - 9:28am

The following letter was mailed this past week from Bob Gibson, our new Executive Director, to all of Sorensen's board members and 1,000-plus alumni.

Dear Sorensen family,
      I am honored and privileged to find myself following Bill Wood and Sean O'Brien as the third executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia and feel a strong commitment to the soul of Sorensen. A political junkie who grew up in Arlington, I have had the good fortune the past 31 years to observe and report on Virginia's political life as a journalist.
      I love the spirit so apparent at Sorensen of service to community and to Commonwealth. This bipartisan passion -- both noble and infectious -- has spread across Virginia for 15 years thanks to the staff and more than 1,000 graduates of this thriving institution.
      I firmly believe that Virginia's politics can be strengthened and improved through the increased participation and understanding of folks who share Sorensen's spirit.
      Please allow me to join you in coming years in sharing that energy with the people in every corner of the Commonwealth. 
      (signed) Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson's "Political Notebook"
Apr 6 2008 - 8:21am

Click here to read Bob Gibson's latest "Political Notebook" column in the Charlottesville Daily Progress in which he reflects on his years as a political reporter and his transition to the Sorensen Institute as the new Executive Director.

PODCAST: HearSay with Cathy Lewis 3.31.08
Apr 2 2008 - 2:36pm

The Sorensen Institute's Youth Programs were the subject of a recent episode of HearSay with Cathy Lewis on WHRO in Hampton Roads.

Guests included Amy Richardson of Virginia21, a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2007, and Marc Johnson, Director of Sorensen's Youth Programs and a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2003.

This is a fantastic conversation that explores the mission and impact of the Sorensen Institute. Enjoy!


PODCAST: Bob Gibson and Paul Harris 3.27.08
Mar 28 2008 - 10:33am

Bob Gibson was a guest yesterday afternoon on "Charlottesville—Right Now! with Coy Barefoot." State Advisory Board member Paul Harris, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, also joined the conversation by phone. They discussed the recent news that Bob has been named the new Executive Director at the Sorensen Institute.

Bob breaks the news that he will continue as a columnist with the Daily Progress and as host of Evening Edition on WVTF. Paul also shares his thoughts about reports that he is being encouraged to consider a run for Attorney General in Virginia in 2009.

Please note: this conversation also includes discussion about the passing of Charlottesville radio legend Dick Mountjoy, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 61.

Featured Alumni

  • Alfonso Lopez.jpg

    Alfonso Lopez

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2003

    Alfonso was the Director of the Virginia Liaison Office during the Kaine administration. In 2011 he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in the 49th District. He also serves on the Sorensen Institute's Northern Virginia Regional Board.