Sorensen Staff

Barefoot Gives Keynote at Georgetown University
Aug 2 2007 - 11:09am

The Sorensen Institute's Coy Barefoot was the closing keynote speaker for the Fund for American Studies' "Leadership Scholars" summer lecture series. The event took place at Georgetown University Wednesday evening, August 1.

This series is part of the Fund for American Studies' "D.C. Internships" program, which brings hundreds of college students from around the nation to live and work in Washington during the summer.

Coy discussed his book, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership (a second edition of which is due out this fall). He also discussed 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.

O'Brien Comments on Blog Conference
Jul 15 2007 - 8:31am

The Sorensen Institute's Sean O'Brien is quoted in an article in today's Virginian-Pilot  regarding the political blogging conference
 held yesterday at Christopher Newport University.

The power and allure of blogs comes from their plebeian access, said Sean O'Brien, executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Anyone with access to a computer - which are found in public libraries - can draw attention to their political leanings on the Internet.

"In some ways," O'Brien said, "you can look at it as democratization of the media. Finally, anyone can compete."

Click here to read the full article.

The Sorensen Institute is proud to have sponsored the first statewide, bipartisan conference of bloggers in Virginia in August of 2005.

Barefoot on Jeffersonian Leadership
Jul 5 2007 - 12:30pm

The Sorensen Institute's Coy Barefoot had the honor of speaking about Thomas Jefferson and leadership on July 4, yesterday, at the "Universitas 21" conference at the University of Virginia. This year's conference theme is Leadership in a Global Society. Barefoot discussed Jefferson's call to action to free citizens everywhere to get engaged in public life. Students in the class represented countries from across the globe. Barefoot is a best-selling and award-winning author whose books includes Thomas Jefferson on Leadership: Executive Lessons from his Life and Letters.

Universitas 21 is an international network of research-intensive colleges and universities who provide rare opportunities for their students to study global issues around the world. The University of Virginia has the distinction of being the only Universitas 21 member institution in the U.S.

Click here for more information about the leadership conference.

Click here for a podcast about Universitas 21 on Coy Barefoot's radio program, "Charlottesville—Right Now!"

O'Brien Comments on NoVA primary
Jun 19 2007 - 8:44am

Sean O'Brien, Executive Director at the Sorensen Institute, was quoted in yesterday's Examiner (D.C.) regarding the high turnout in a Northern Virginia primary last week.

An off-year Democratic primary in Fairfax County’s Providence District
drew out more voters than a federal primary in 2006, according to
county election records, an unusually strong turnout fueled by
development and the hope of a Metrorail tunnel under Tysons Corner.

Click here for the article

FLASH: Sorensen Institute Launches Search for Director of Development
Jun 12 2007 - 1:37pm

This message was recently sent out to Sorensen Board members and alumni from our Executive Director Sean O'Brien:

Over the last 1.5 years you have had a chance to get to know Kim Hutchinson. Effective Friday (June 1) Kim will no longer be part of the Sorensen Institute team. She is going back to work in the disability field where she worked before coming to Sorensen. Thanks in part to Kim's efforts, we enjoyed great success with our last two galas. We want to thank Kim for her work here at Sorensen to enhance the quality of political leadership in Virginia. We wish her the very best.

The Sorensen Institute has now begun its search for a new Director of Development. This is a full-time, salaried position at the University of Virginia (details below).

We encourage readers of our blog to help us spread the word and encourage all qualified applicants to apply.

Click here to see the full job listing.

Title: Director of Development, Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is a nonpartisan
organization based at the University of Virginia dedicated to improving
the quality of governance and civic engagement in Virginia. We seek an
experienced Director of Development to help lead the organization into
the future. Reporting to the executive director and working with board
members across Virginia, this position is responsible for managing and
executing a multi-year development plan designed to raise at least
$500,000 in the coming fiscal year with significant increases in coming
years as the organization grows.


successful candidate will have a Master's Degree; however, a Bachelor's
degree with significant professional related experience may be
considered in lieu of Masters. A track record of meeting annual goals
for fundraising initiatives in a non-profit organization is required.
Important experience includes major gift programs--from individuals,
alumni, corporations and foundations--planned and annual giving
programs, grant writing, direct mail campaigns and special events,
preferably in a civic and/or political organization preferred.
Experience working in an educational setting is preferred. This
position requires excellent oral and written communication skills.
Salary is commensurate with experience. Information about the Sorensen
Institute can be found at


send a cover letter, resume and sample fundraising solicitation letter
to address below or electronically with attachments to
The University of Virginia is committed to the diversity of its faculty
and staff and is an equal opportunity-affirmative action employer.

Send Application to:
Sorensen Institute, Development Search
PO Box 400206

Charlottesville, VA 22904-4206
Sorensen Participates in Digital Revolution Panel
Apr 12 2007 - 7:47am

Sorensen's Executive Director Sean O'Brien and Political Leaders Program Class of 2005 graduate Waldo Jaquith were among the invited speakers at a panel discussion yesterday afternoon at the University of Virginia. The topic: "Public Access in Virginia: How Three Digital Projects are Changing the Past." The projects included Waldo's Richmond Sunlight (now a program sponsored by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy), David Poole's Virginia Public Access Project, and UVa's Virginia Elections Database Project.

UPDATE (4.18.07): Click here to read a news article about the panel discussion.

UPDATE (4.23.07): Click here to read more from UVa's Cavalier Daily.

Happy Birthday Mr. O'Brien
Jan 25 2007 - 3:36pm

Sorensen's Executive Director Sean O'Brien celebrated his 41st birthday last Friday, January 19. During a meeting at the Governor's office that same morning, some of our alumni from the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006 arranged for Governor Kaine to present Sean with a tongue-in-cheek commemoration of his special day. From left to right: Marc Cheatham, Director of Constituent Services for Governor Kaine; Coy Barefoot, Director of Communications and Alumni Relations at  Sorensen; Sean O'Brien; Governor Tim Kaine; Missy Neff, Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources in the Kaine administration; and Steven Gould, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor for Policy and Director of the Governor's Fellows Program.

O'Brien Comments on Allen Future
Dec 7 2006 - 12:40pm

Sorensen Executive Director Sean O'Brien was quoted in today's edition of the Washington Examiner in a story titled "Allen delivers final message on Senate floor."

“The macaca moment will always be a footnote for him in history,”
said Sean O’Brien, director of the Sorensen Center for Political
Leadership at the University of Virginia. “That comment has an
important impact on the future of the country because it’s why Jim Webb
is Senator.”

O’Brien said Allen could return to the political
arena, likely as a candidate for Virginia governor in 2009. Many
believe former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner and former Republican Gov.
Jim Gilmore could also run, making the campaign a battle of political
heavyweights. O’Brien said this race would indicate whether the recent
Democratic trend in Virginia will continue.

“The 2009 contest could really say a lot about the future of Virginia,” he said.

Sorensen Leadership to Assist Supreme Court of Virginia
Nov 27 2006 - 1:10pm

The Sorensen Institute's Executive Director, Sean O'Brien, has been asked to serve in a focus group that will assist the Office of the Executive Secretary in preparing the next strategic plan for the Supreme Court of Virginia. Specifically, he will be part of a group that will discuss trends related to the role of government in Virginia. This is a tremendous honor that reflects quite powerfully on the presence and impact of the Sorensen Institute and our alumni in the Commonwealth.

O'Brien Speaks to Virginia Chamber of Commerce
Nov 2 2006 - 7:36pm

Sean O'Brien was the keynote speaker at a recent gathering of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. O'Brien shared the Sorensen perspective on this year's campaigns—underscoring his hopes that Virginians will demand more positive, ethically-centered, issue-driven political campaigns in the future. The meeting was held at Keswick Hall outside Charlottesville on Wednesday evening, November 1.

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.