Lauren Gilbert Named as Director of Programs
Dec 19 2014 - 11:42am

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is delighted to announce that Lauren Gilbert will be our new Director of Programs, succeeding April Auger.

April is leaving Sorensen today after six years to become a full-time graduate student at the University of Richmond to pursue a master’s degree in nonprofit management.

“Lauren has proven herself to be an excellent Youth Program Director and has the skills and the dedication to Sorensen’s mission to lead all five of our programs in 2015 and beyond,” said Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute.

Lauren has been responsible for overseeing recruitment for and implementation of the College and High School Leaders Programs for the past several years. She is a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2009 and returned to Sorensen as a Youth Program Manager in 2010. She is a native of Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Political Science.

"I'm excited to take on the responsibilities of the Director of Programs," Gilbert said.  "I have had the privilege of working closely with participants in our youth programs for many years, and I've seen firsthand how our programs create both strong policy ideas and lasting friendships.  I look forward to continuing the good work done by my predecessors in this role."

Legislative Reception Feb. 17 in Richmond
Dec 18 2014 - 2:22pm

Sorensen's Legislative Reception, a must-attend gathering in the Richmond political social calendar, recognizes our 25 alumni currently serving in the General Assembly and statewide office. This Feb. 17 event at Williams Mullen in Richmond begins at 5 p.m. and is free and open to all Sorensen alumni and friends.

It's not too late to join our Legislative Reception sponsors in supporting this event, which regularly draws more than 200 attendees, including members of the General Assembly, their staffers, and other leaders in Richmond. Contact Colleen Smith at 424-982-4910 or

Join us in bidding "Adieu" to April Auger
Dec 10 2014 - 11:26am

Join us in bidding "Adieu" to April Auger as she leaves The Sorensen Institute after six years with us.  April has moved to Richmond and is pursuing a masters degree in nonprofit management at the University of Richmond.  She has a great future in the world of nonprofit management and in whatever endeavors she chooses to pursue.  She'll be greatly missed as a member of the Sorensen team!

We'll be gathering one last time to spend time with April before her departure at the end of the month, and all are welcome!  April is excited to spend time catching up with alumni, board members, and friends, so join us for this fun, festive gathering at one of April's favorite places on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall.

Bid "Adieu" to April!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Start time: 5:00pm

Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar

(Upstairs Bar)
422 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA
Attire: Holiday Festive or "Come as you are!"

All are welcome!
RSVP on Facebook

Applications now being accepted for 2015 CLP and HSLP
Dec 6 2014 - 5:36pm

The Sorensen Institute is now accepting applications for the 2015 College Leaders Program and High School Leaders Program.  Applications for both programs will be accepted until midnight on Monday, March 2nd.  Information about both programs and instructions on how to apply 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.  If you would like downloadable materials on any of our programs, they are available at our Sorensen Recruitment Resource Center.   Thank you for your assistance in helping us identify excellent applicants to our programs!

PHOTOS: Sorensen 2014 Autumn Gala
Nov 20 2014 - 6:52pm

Last Friday, Sorensen alumni and friends attended the 2014 Autumn Gala in Arlington. Coming on the heels of election season, this gathering of political leaders from both sides of the aisle was a reminder that our political differences do not have to divide us.

The event featured remarks from retiring Rep. Jim Moran, as well as his newly-elected successor Don Beyer and Sorensen alumni Rep. Robert Hurt and Rep. Scott Rigell.

The Sorensen Institute would like to thank all of our Autumn Gala Partners. Sorensen's programs would not be possible without their generous support.

Commonwealth Partners
Barbara J. Fried
Rolls-Royce North America

Table Hosts
Aldrich Capital Partners
David Bailey Associates
Virginia Automobile Dealers Association (VADA)

Half-Table Hosts
Cox Communications
Kaiser Permanente
State Farm

Matt Calkins
Jean Jensen
Maggie & Art Major
Shannon Valentine
Margi Vanderhye



Sorensen to host Senate candidate forum in Danville
Sep 26 2014 - 2:11pm

Sorensen is pleased to announce the next two installments of the Southern Virginia Public Leadership Series. Both events will be held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, and are free and open to the public. 

Town Hall on Redistricting Reform
Wednesday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m.

Join us for an exciting discussion on redistricting reform in the Commonwealth. Panelists include former delegate Shannon Valentine, former state senator Charles Hawkins, and Bill Bolling, former lieutenant governor of Virginia.

Candidate Issues Forum with Warner and Gillespie
Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner and GOP challenger Ed Gillespie will appear at a Sorensen Institute candidate forum, cosponsored by WSET-TV and the Danville Register & Bee.
Join our Facebook Event for more information.

Sorensen to host second Autumn Gala on Nov. 14
Sep 12 2014 - 2:34pm

Join new friends and old at the Sorensen Institute's Autumn Gala on Friday, Nov. 14. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City.

You can have your business or organization sponsor a table! Contact Colleen Smith at 434-982-4910.

Speakers include Jim Moran and Sorensen alumni Robert Hurt and Scott Rigell.

After dinner, the evening continues at a special alumni afterparty at Siné Irish Pub in Pentagon Row beginning at 9 p.m. All Sorensen alumni, including those who cannot attend the Gala, are invited to the afterparty. Potential PLP and CTP applicants are also welcome. (There is no dress code for the afterparty—cocktail and casual attire are equally appropriate.)

To purchase Gala tickets, visit To RSVP for the free alumni afterparty, email

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.

Sorensen Partners with Appalachian School of Law and Wellmont Health System for Healthcare Symposium
Aug 26 2014 - 2:14pm

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia is partnering with the Appalachian School of Law and Wellmont Health System to sponsor a day-long symposium on the future of health care on Sept. 22 that will feature keynote addresses by Dr. Bill Hazel, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources; Thomas P. Miller of the American Enterprise Institute, a critic of Obamacare; and Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The symposium, "The Future of Health Care: Moving from Policy to Implementation," will be hosted by Wellmont in Bristol, Tenn., on Monday, Sept. 22, and will feature health care experts, officials and providers from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The media is invited to cover the health law symposium at Wellmont's Monarch Auditorium. Continuing Legal Education Credit has been approved in Virginia and Tennessee and is pending in Kentucky.

The sponsors intend to provide rational debate and civil discourse among experts in the field who disagree on many of the basic issues. Public airing of different points of view on these issues can inform the debate and educate stakeholders and the public about problems and possible solutions that confront us in the complex arena of health care and health law.

The symposium agenda can be found below.

If you have questions about the Healthcare Symposium and wish to speak with a representative, please contact Beth Rhinehart at or (423) 230-8405; Bob Gibson at or (434) 982-4998; or Donna Weaver at or (276) 244-1241.

The website for the symposium is

The online registration site is


7:15 A.M. - 8:00 A.M.
8:00 A.M. - 8:30 A.M.
  • Greg Neal - President, Wellmont BRMC, Bristol, Tennessee
  • David Bailey - President, David Bailey Associates, Richmond, Virginia
  • Dr. Len Nichols - Director, Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
8:30 A.M. - 9:00 A.M. Keynote:
  • Marilyn Tavenner - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C.
9:00 A.M. - 10:30 A.M. Panel 1 - Business Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
  • Karen Harned (moderator) - Executive Director, NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Richmond, Virginia
  • Jenny S. Kiesewetter - Attorney, Butler Snow LLP, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Mike Cole - Benefits Manager, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.
  • Carl Knoblock - Virginia District Director, US Small Business Administrator
  • Debbie Stocks - President, Your Benefits Partner, LLC
  • Stewart Harris - Professor, Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia
10:30 A.M. - 10:45 A.M. Break
10:45 A.M. - 12:15 P.M. Panel 2 - Health Care Innovations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act along with Conflicts and Challenges:
  • Chris Bailey (moderator) - Senior Vice President, Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, Richmond, Virginia
  • Beth Bortz - President & CEO, Virginia Center for Health Innovation, Richmond, Virginia
  • Reginia Sayers - Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Cedar Bluff, Virginia
  • William T. Lee - Pharmacy System Director, Carilion Medical Center, Roanoke, Virginia
  • Karen Remley - Chief Medical Director - Virginia, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
12:15 P.M. - 1:15 P.M. Lunch
1:15 P.M. - 1:45 P.M. Keynote:
  • Dr. Bill Hazel - Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Richmond, Virginia
1:45 P.M. - 3:15 P.M. Panel 3 - Health Benefit Exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
  • Martin Kent (moderator) - President, The United Company, Bristol, Virginia
  • Jacqueline K. Cunningham - Commissioner of Insurance, Bureau of Insurance, State Corporation Commission, Richmond, Virginia
  • Julie M. McPeak - Commissioner, Department of Commerce & Insurance, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Dr. Miriam Fordham - Director of Health Care Policy Administrator, Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Scott Johnson - Director, Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle, P.C., Glen Allen, Virginia
3:15 P.M. - 3:45 P.M. Keynote:
  • Thomas P. Miller - Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, and co-author of "Why Obamacare is Wrong for America"
3:45 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. Break
4:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. Panel 4 - From Policy To Implementation with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: How Do We Get There?:
  • Dr. Nichols (moderator) - Director, Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
  • David C. Smith - Vice President, Health & Welfare at Ebenconcepts, Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Priscilla Harris - Associate Professor, Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia
  • Dixie Tooke-Rawlins D.O. - Provost, Dean and Executive Vice President, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia
5:00 P.M.



Sorensen Announces Emerging Leaders Program Class
Jul 31 2014 - 10:08am

The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is Sorensen's newest leadership development program. Designed for young Virginians who have a background in state government, the program equips participants with the tools to become more active in public policy.

We are delighted to announce the names of those Virginians who have been accepted into this year's Emerging Leaders Program.

Emerging Leaders Program Class of 2014

Liz Childress, Richmond
Alicia Cundiff, Richmond
Jordan Evans, Richmond
Jacob Holmes, Bristol
Stasia Kodadek, Richmond
Stephanie Lynch, Richmond
Garrett McGuire, Arlington
Allison Miessler, Fairfax
Chris Monioudis, Roanoke
Ashley Myers, Richmond
Kasey Nabal, Fredericksburg
Bennett Opitz, Richmond
Ryan O'Toole, Richmond
Morgan Quicke, Warsaw
Erik Rison, Arlington

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Featured Alumni

  • Doug Smith.jpg

    Doug Smith

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2005

    Doug serves as the Executive Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier. He is the former Executive Director the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, based in Richmond.