Sorensen Staff

O'Brien Comments on Gilmore for Senate
Sep 19 2007 - 8:49am

Sean O'Brien was interviewed for a recent story in New Dominion magazine about former Governor Jim Gilmore's likely candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

I next asked Sean O’Brien, the executive director of the Sorensen
Institute for Public Policy at the University of Virginia, what he kind
of advice he would give to Gilmore were he a Gilmore political

Click here to read the full story

O'Brien Comments on Negative Campaigning
Sep 19 2007 - 7:57am

Sean O'Brien is quoted in today's edition of the Arlington Connection newspaper in an article titled "New Rules: Local Democrats try to devise regulations against negative campaigning."

In the wake of a contentious and divisive
primary campaign, the Arlington Democratic Party is trying to come up
with new rules to prevent excessively negative campaign tactics in
future elections. The
party has established an Electoral Practices Commission made up of
local party activists to devise a pledge that all future Democratic
candidates must sign to receive party support.

"It's a challenging thing to develop and even
more challenging to enforce," said Sean O'Brien, the director of the
Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of
Virginia. O'Brien has been advising several commission members as they
go forward with their task. "If the language is ‘Don't lie, cheat or
steal,' it's pretty obvious," he said. "But if it's more vague it's
going to be hard to figure out how to enforce something like that."

Click here to read the full story.

O'Brien Comments on Spending in U.S. Senate Race
Sep 18 2007 - 11:20am

Sean O'Brien is quoted in today's edition of the Washington Examiner regarding spending in the U.S. Senate race.

Political prognosticators foresee an exceptionally expensive battle
approaching for Virginia’s open Senate seat, where a high-stakes,
national fight over a once-secure Republican state could draw extra
millions into coffers on both sides.

Click here to read the article.

O'Brien Comments on Virginia Politics
Sep 11 2007 - 9:19am

Sean O'Brien was interviewed for a feature in the most recent edition of The New Dominion magazine. The story examines how abusive driver fees, illegal immigration, and the state budget will impact Virginia politics in coming months.

Virginia Democrats are playing up driver fees. Virginia Republicans are playing up immigration. It’s almost as if there are two different elections being held in the
Commonwealth in November - almost, because still there’s only the one
in which voters will be able to cast their lots...

“One of the things that Virginia prides itself on is the Dillon Rule
- and how that makes for a level playing field in terms of, say, taxes
and business regulations, because you can’t have the sort of patchwork
of different rules. And you’re starting to see a patchwork forming up
in Northern Virginia - of different regulations related to immigrants.
And the reaction from the immigrant community appears to be, Well, OK,
we’ll just go to the next county over, or, We’ll boycott the businesses
in this community that aren’t immigrant-friendly. And it’s actually
starting to create a little bit of the patchwork that the Dillon Rule
is supposed to prevent,” O’Brien said.

“The state level is certainly a more appropriate level to have this debate,” O’Brien said.

Click here for the full story.

**Sorensen Welcomes New Director of Development**
Sep 4 2007 - 7:00am

The Sorensen Institute is happy to announce that Colleen Smith of Albemarle County has been hired as our new Director of Development. Colleen comes to us from James Madison’s Montpelier, where she has held the position of Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations since 2003.  At Montpelier, Colleen was part of a fundraising team that was charged with providing the resources to restore the home of James and Dolley Madison as well as promoting its mission of constitutional education. 
With over twenty years of development experience, Colleen has held positions at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and the Darden School.  Other experience includes Tandem Friends School, Ash Lawn Opera, West Virginia Special Olympics, and development consulting.

"We are so pleased to have Colleen on board with us," said Sean O'Brien, the Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute. "She has a tremendous wealth of experience and a keen appreciation for the Sorensen mission. Colleen brings some terrific ideas to the table that I know will benefit Virginia. We're really looking forward to getting started."
Colleen is a graduate of Mary Baldwin College and Indiana University, where she received her masters in Philanthropic Studies from the Center for Philanthropy.  She is on the board of directors of Four County Players in Barboursville, and is a past president of the PVCC Alumni Association.

PODCAST: Sean O'Brien on WINA 8.22.07
Aug 23 2007 - 2:02pm

Sean O'Brien was a guest yesterday afternoon on "Charlottesville-Right Now!" with Coy Barefoot, NewsRadio 1070 WINA.

He discussed the history and mission of the Sorensen Institute, in addition to our new Southside Public Leadership Series and other programs.


O'Brient Comments on Schools
Aug 22 2007 - 11:33am

Sean O'Brien is quoted in a Richmond Style Weekly article titled, The Real Problem With Our Schools:

Thomas Jefferson never could have seen it coming.
With his
strict division between Virginia’s cities and counties, he intended to
preserve the bucolic, agrarian society he loved — not cause a train
He meant to preserve counties,  not to choke off and
strangle landlocked cities, sending their affluent citizens just beyond
the city lines to build prosperous, urbanized counties and take tax
revenue with them
. Had Jefferson observed the conditions of
inner-city Richmond and its floundering schools, social services and
public transportation, he might have been inspired to write a letter of
declaration calling for change.

“The division between cities and counties and the distribution of
resources is a … regularly discussed issue in political circles,” says
Sean O’Brien, director of Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
at the University of Virginia. O’Brien laments that it was his
university’s founder who promoted the principle of separating agrarian
societies from urban centers, a principle that informed Virginia’s
current destabilizing political division between cities and neighboring
urbanized counties.

Click here for the full story.

Johnson Participates in Southern Growth Policies Board 2007-08
Aug 22 2007 - 10:37am

Director of Youth Programs, Marc Johnson (also a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2003), was a recent participant in the Southern Growth Policies Board 2007 Regional Retreat and Advisory Councils meetings.  This year the SGPB is focusing on "Youth: The Real Future of the South" and preparing a report on efforts to engage youth in civic affairs across the South.  Marc also attended the "Council on the Southern Community"meeting, which is overseeing this year's report and conference.  The report will be released in June 2008 after a year of research and community and policy forums.

Southern Growth Policies Board is a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Formed by the region's governors in 1971, Southern Growth Policies Board develops and advances visionary economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region's governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors. This unique public-private partnership is devoted to strengthening the South's economy and creating the highest possible quality of life.

O'Brien Comments on Allen's New Blog
Aug 11 2007 - 11:54am

Sorensen Institute Executive Director is quoted in today's edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an article regarding former U.S. Senator George Allen's foray into the blogging.

"People going to George Allen's blog are people who like him or the
opposite -- people who are looking for ammunition," said Sean O'Brien,
executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership,
a candidate-training program at the University of Virginia.

"He's going to need the coverage, but not necessarily the
cooperation, of the mainstream media if he's to convince the average
voting citizen that he's achieved a new level of sensitivity and
understanding of diversity."

Click here to read the full article.

Click here to visit Allen's new blog.

Barefoot Speaks to VaBeach GOP
Aug 8 2007 - 10:00am

The Sorensen Institute's Coy Barefoot was the main speaker at the recent Saturday breakfast meeting of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.

Coy spoke about a  forthcoming book that he helped put together, The Centennial Senator: True Stories about Strom Thurmond from the People Who Knew Him Best—written by Coy 's father, who was Senator Thurmond's Chief of Staff and most trusted advisor for many years. That book is due out later this year.

A number of Sorensen graduates were on hand at the meeting including VaBeach Party Chairman Chuck Smith, Kenny Golden, and Vicki Williams of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005; as well as Glenn Davis, Ann Flandermeyer, and Brenda Haegley of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2007.