Sorensen Staff

"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.

Chairman Fried Announces Bob Gibson as Executive Director
Mar 25 2008 - 9:30pm


March 25, 2008

The following is a message from Barbara Fried, Chairman of the Sorensen Institute's State Advisory Board.

This announcement was shared today with the members of Sorensen's State and Regional Boards as well as with our 1,000-plus alumni.


Dear Board members and Alumni,

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Search Committee has selected Bob Gibson of Charlottesville as the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership's new Executive Director. We are thrilled about this decision and are looking forward to Bob joining our team in late April.

Bob is familiar to many Virginians as the veteran political writer at the Charlottesville Daily Progress and as the long-time host of WVTF Public Radio's Evening Edition. Bob grew up in Arlington County and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1972 where he studied government and foreign affairs.

Bob is well-known at the University, in Richmond, and in political circles across Virginia. He has been a frequent guest speaker to Sorensen classes over the years, bringing with him a deep appreciation for the issues on which our programs focus. Throughout his professional career Bob has always stood for those principles which are at the heart of the Sorensen mission. As a reporter and political analyst, he has earned a strong reputation for fairness and thoughtful commentary. The members of the Search Committee unanimously agreed that the Sorensen Institute will be tremendously well served with Bob Gibson as its Director. I look forward to introducing you to Bob at our 2008 Gala on April 25.

The members of the Search Committee were impressed with and inspired by the diverse pool of candidates we had to consider for this position. Our highest expectations were surpassed. The quality of the applicants says a great deal about the work of the Sorensen Institute and about the positive influence our alumni continue to have in the Commonwealth. Each of you, in your own way, manifests that Sorensen spirit as you serve your community and Virginia. I speak for the entire board when I say, we are very proud of you.

I want to express my thanks to the members of the Search Committee who graciously volunteered their time. I sincerely appreciate their efforts, their valuable input, and their continued commitment to Sorensen.

I also want to extend my thanks to John Thomas, Director of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA, for his leadership and contributions during this transition. John has indeed been a loyal friend to the Sorensen Institute, and we are in his debt.

This year we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Sorensen Institute. The vision shared by co-founders Leigh Middleditch and Michael Bills continues to be a vibrant and influential legacy. We can all be proud that Sorensen has become the national model of successful bipartisan leadership training.

Please join me in congratulating Bob Gibson and welcoming him to the Sorensen family.

With thanks and best wishes,

Barbara Fried

State Advisory Board
The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

Featured Alumni

  • Ann Mallek.jpg

    Ann Mallek

    Candidate Training Program

    Class of 2007

    Shortly after graduating from the Candidate Training Program, Ann announced her candidacy for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors in the White Hall District. She won the election in November 2007 and still serves.