Now Hiring 2016 Youth Program Managers
Dec 21 2015 - 2:40pm
Youth Program Manager

Position Announcement

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is seeking applicants to be a Youth Program Manager in the summer of 2016 for its College and High School Leaders Programs.

Both programs are residential at the University of Virginia. Each program is two weeks, with the College Leaders Program scheduled for June 11-25, and the High School Leaders Program being held July 9-23.

Successful applicants will possess the following skills:
  • excellent time management
  • a high degree of organization
  • the ability to work with high school and college students in a residential and classroom setting
  • a knowledge of Virginia government and politics
  • significant peer leadership experience
  • experience in peer-to-peer counseling
  • thorough professionalism
  • strong written and oral communication abilities
  • an ability to adjust to shifting priorities
Favorable consideration will be given to applicants who hold a bachelor's degree by the program start date, but rising college seniors are also encouraged to apply.
Applicants should also be prepared to bring a personal computer or laptop for their own use, and it would be beneficial for an applicant to have a car.
The employment period will run from June 9, 2016 until July 26, 2016. During the program, Youth Program Managers will  live in residence every night and work each day with the program participants while the programs are in session, with some half-days off duty.  There will also be a vacation gap between programs, from Monday, June 27 to Thursday, July 7.  Program Coordinators will receive room and board with the students during the programs, as well as a university parking pass, in addition to the stipend.

Applications should include: a current resume; a letter of recommendation; three references that may be contacted; and a brief letter explaining why the applicant is interested in the position.

Questions and applications can be directed to Director of Student Programs Cash Arehart at (434) 243-2470, or Cash Arehart, Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, P.O. Box 400206, Charlottesville, VA 22904.  Applications must be submitted by Monday, February 29, 2016 for consideration. Qualified applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview via phone after this date.


$2,400.00 plus room, board, and meals during program

Applications must be submitted by midnight, Monday, February 29, 2016 for consideration.
A. The full time position runs from Thursday, June 9 to Tuesday, July 26.

B. Be in residence at the University of Virginia at all times when students are in the dorms with some time off each week.

C. Assist in the daily operations of the programs - supervise students during the day, be on call certain evenings to assist students, serve as a mentor and guide for students, complete administrative work at the Sorensen office, etc.

D. Travel with the class on all program field trips.

E. Advise students in preparation of their culminating project as outlined in program materials. Personally mentor at least one student research group in each program.

F. Provide administrative support during the program - help with coordination of activities, contact with speakers, development of culminating project groups, evening activities, grocery shopping trips, greeting VIPs, etc.
G. Coordinate social events for program participants.

H. Provide reasonable assistance to the Sorensen Institute in the recruitment and selection of program participants.

I. Assist in evaluating students completing the CLP or HSLP for academic credit.

J. Other tasks necessary for the successful operation of the programs as assigned by the Sorensen Institute staff.


Now Accepting 2016 CLP and HSLP Applications
Dec 18 2015 - 3:22pm

The Sorensen Institute is now accepting applications for the 2016 College Leaders Program (CLP) and the 2016 High School Leaders Program (HSLP). 

 The College Leaders Program offers college students across the commonwealth an advanced program on public service and leadership with a focus on state and local politics.

The 2016 College Leaders Program (CLP) will be held June 11 - 25 on grounds at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Students attending school at any accredited school in Virginia, or native Virginians attending a school out of state are eligible to apply for the CLP.


The High School Leaders Program offers concentrated study in Virginia politics and government for high school students throughout the commonwealth. Students who are at least 16 years of age, or are rising juniors or seniors are encouraged to apply. Graduating seniors are also eligible to apply.

The 2016 High School Leaders Program (HSLP) will take place on grounds at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, July 9 - 23.

State Farm is a proud sponsor of the HSLP.


Both programs are built on the firm understanding that younger citizens not only can make a positive difference in their communities, but that they should be mentored and strongly encouraged to do so. Students in each program engage in substantive debate about the public policy challenges facing the Commonwealth and interact with Virginia's political and business leaders, and participants gain practical skills and political knowledge to become effective advocates in their schools and communities, in government, and in business.


Applications for both the CLP and the HSLP are due by midnight on Monday, March 7.  More information about the application process can be found on our Applications Page.

If you have any questions about either program, please contact Cash Arehart at 434-243-2470 or

If you would like to refer someone to our program, please visit our referrals page.

Holsworth to speak in Danville Tuesday, Oct. 6
Sep 14 2015 - 6:36pm

Join us at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville on Oct. 6 as renowned political scientist and analyst Bob Holsworth engages in a thought-provoking discussion of state and national elections in Virginia.

The evening begins with a 6 p.m. reception hosted by Sorensen alumni and community leaders Jennifer Bowles, Julie Brown, Helm Dobbins, Steven Gould, Missy Neff Gould, and Chris West. Be sure to bring potential applicants for the Political Leaders Program and Candidate Training Program!

This event is cosponsored by the Danville Register & Bee and the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce.

Sorensen to host third Autumn Gala on Nov. 10
Sep 10 2015 - 6:46pm

The Sorensen Institute is pleased to announce our third annual Autumn Gala, featuring a discussion on the collaborative and bipartisan efforts to introduce legislation to better define the nation's war powers.

We hope you'll join us on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City to hear from:

• U.S. Senator Tim Kaine;
• Va. Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, Admiral John Harvey;
• Scholar and diplomat Philip Zelikow; and
• Our discussion moderator, TIME's Massimo Calabresi.

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

After dinner, the evening continues at a special alumni afterparty at Siné Irish Pub in Pentagon Row beginning at 9:30 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

Now Accepting 2016 CTP and PLP Applications
Sep 8 2015 - 4:46pm

Sorensen is now accepting applications for the 2016 Candidate Training Program (CTP) and the 2016 Political Leaders Program (PLP).

The Candidate Training Program is an intensive, four-day program focused on the fundamentals of a winning campaign for office.  Participants explore the nuts and bolts of building a strong campaign from the ground up—all within the context of ethics and principled public service. The curriculum does not prescribe a particular set of campaign guidelines or rules, but does provide candidates with a framework for developing their own code of conduct to run a winning and ethical campaign. Participants in the program represent  a broad range of ideologies and a diversity of communities from throughout Virginia.  The Candidate Training Program is sponsored in part by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, which helps us keep tuition costs affordable.

The Political Leaders Program, Sorensen's flagship program, is a leadership development program for residents of Virginia interested in becoming more active in public service, whether as community leaders or as elected officials. Participation in this program has become a traditional "first step" for future political leaders in the Commonwealth. The class meets in various locations across Virginia, once a month for 10 months from March through December.

 Applications for both the PLP and the CTP are due by midnight on Monday, November 16th.  More information about the application process can be found on our Applications Page.

If you have any questions about either program, please contact Lauren Gilbert at 434-243-2844 or
If you would like to refer someone to our program, please visit our referrals page.

State Farm Seeking New Youth Advisory Board Members
Aug 25 2015 - 9:13am

A message from one of our High School Leaders Program sponsors, State Farm:

To all community partners, educators and students:
Applications are now available for new board members for the State Farm Youth Advisory Board (YAB). This is an incredible opportunity for a young person to grow as a leader, help out their communities, and network with a diverse group of 28 youth, ages 17-20, from across the U.S!
The YAB board is responsible for granting $5 million dollars in service-learning and community impact grants that seek to solve important domestic issues. As a member of the YAB, students will be provided an amazing personal developmental opportunity, as well as being able to make a long-lasting impact in communities they care about and provide solutions to today’s pertinent issues.
Students can apply now by visiting The application deadline is Oct. 2, 2015 at 5 PM (CST).
Please also forward this information to any 17-20 year old that you think would be interested in becoming a board member. They can check out the YAB on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
With a passion for education and service, our youth can make a difference! Thank you for helping us spread the word.

2015 Sorensen Alumni Day
Aug 5 2015 - 5:19pm

Sorensen will host a day-long program for Sorensen alumni and their guests on Saturday, August 29th in Charlottesville focusing on "Virginia's Evolving Justice System."  Our 2015 Alumni Day is an excellent opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow Sorensen alums while engaging with leaders in the justice system.

Alumni Day Schedule: Saturday, August 29th
11:30am - 12:30pm: Optional dutch-treat lunch at Brick & Mortar (18% gratuity included)
1:00pm - 3:00pm: Tour of Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail
3:30pm - 5:30pm: Meet at CitySpace for panel
     Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Victoria Cochran,
     Charlottesville Sheriff James Brown,
     Former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy,
     Retired General District Judge Steve Helvin, and
     ACLU Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga

5:30pm: Adjourn for optional dutch-treat dinner at Café Caturra

The cost of attending is a tax-deductible $29.00 per person minimum contribution.  All proceeds will go to Sorensen's scholarship fund to support those in need.  Both steps must be completed for you to be considered registered for the event!  The deadline to register is Monday, August 24th.

Step 1: Paying your registration fee
Visit and input a contribution of $29.00 per person attending.
Click "Save and Continue"
On the Special Instructions page, in the "Special Instructions" box on the second half of the page, input "Alumni Day Scholarship"
Click "Save and Continue"
Fill out the Donor Information and Billing pages, review, and submit!

Step 2: RSVPing for the weekend's activities
Fill out our survey for the weekend.


Coordinate with other alumni:  Once you've registered, join the Facebook event for the Sorensen Alumni Day to coordinate rides, room shares, and schedules.


Sorensen has arranged for room blocks at two area hotels for those who wish to stay overnight on Friday, August 29th to make reservations.  There are limited rooms available, so book early!

The Graduate Hotel Charlottesville (located on The Corner)
Rate with two Queen beds: $189.00 + tax
Rate with one King bed: $179.00 + tax
Front Desk: 434-295-4333
Cutoff date: TBA
Ask for the "Sorensen Institute block"

The Cavalier Inn (University area)
Rate: $139.00 + tax (breakfast included)
Front Desk: 434-296-8111
Cutoff date: 8/21
Ask for the "Sorensen Institute block"

Charlottesville has many other hotels in the area if you prefer to book with an alternate location.  Other hotels include:
Charlottesville Omni (Downtown Mall); Rate: approx $269.00 + tax
Hampton Inn & Suites (The Corner); Rate: approx $214.00 + tax
Courtyard Marriott (The Corner); Rate: approx $239.00 + tax
Hampton Inn (29 Corridor); Rate: approx $159.00 + tax
Hilton Garden Inn (Pantops); Rate: approx $169.00 + tax


Questions? Email Bob Gibson at

We look forward to seeing you on August 29th!

HSLP 2015: Day 13 - Thursday, July 23
Jul 23 2015 - 11:52pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 13: Thursday, July 23
Reported by: Ryan Wilson, Tuscarora High School and Josie Bulova, Robinson Secondary School

Having enjoyed an extra hour of sleep, the day began on a positive note. As is now customary, we walked to New Cabell Hall for another day in class with our professor, Marc Johnson. Today, however, something different was in store.

We participated in another General Assembly simulation, “The Budget Game.” After a brief discussion of our takeaways from yesterday’s field trip to Harrisonburg, we transitioned into the task at hand. Eager and intrigued, our group of young leaders listened intently as Mr. Johnson explained the procedures of the upcoming simulation. The objective seemed straightforward enough: with an appropriate combination of spending reductions and revenue enhancements, we were to address a $1 billion shortfall and ultimately arrive at a balanced budget.

We were initially broken into two groups, where 18 students were assigned to the House of Delegates, while the remaining 11 took on the role of state Senators. Unlike our last simulation, we were not assigned a specific legislator to represent, nor did we openly discuss party affiliation. In our respective chambers, we began the activity at 10:30 a.m., and perused each line item of the Commonwealth’s budget. From natural disaster relief appropriations to teacher-pupil ratios, and from income tax rates to the general fund, there was plenty for the students to consider. As group discussions got underway, philosophical discourse over the specifics of the balance sheet quickly ensued. Both chambers arrived at two differing agreements, just before noon.

After a quick break, we moved into a working lunch with our two conference committees, both comprised of proportional numbers of Delegates and Senators. There, we compared the budgets of both chambers, and worked under the constraints of a strict time limit. Finally, each committee arrived at an equitable consensus to present to the full Assembly. Both groups reconvened back in the classroom, and Mr. Johnson reviewed the two budgets, noting their points of contrast. We then had an opportunity to present and defend our committees’ proposals before the class, and address questions from the other side. Despite our best efforts, the simulation ended in gridlock, and we adjourned without a budget. Before retreating back to Bice, we reflected on the day both amongst ourselves and with Mr. Johnson.

Once back at the dormitory, we enjoyed some much-needed downtime before dinner. Some students ventured out to the Corner, while others chose to relax back at Bice and put the finishing touches on their policy projects. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., each group had the opportunity to appear before a panel and conduct a trial run of their presentations. As Cash Arehart, Lauren Gilbert, and the Youth Program Managers listened, we spoke about our proposed legislation and fielded questions and critiques. The remainder of the evening was spent conferring with our groups as we prepared for the big day ahead. Most of us are heading off to bed early as we anticipate our last full day at Sorensen.

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

HSLP 2015: Day 12 - Wednesday, July 22
Jul 22 2015 - 11:42pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 12: Wednesday, July 23
Reported by: Ahmad Shawwal, Massaponax High School and Virginia Chambers, Maggie Walker Governor’s School

On Day 12, we stepped out of the finite corners of our classroom and traveled into the boundless world around us. Our journey manifested itself in the form of everyone’s favorite pastime—field trips!

The High School Leaders Program class took an exciting trip to Cave View Farm in midst of the summer heat. The farm in Weyers Cave, Va. is 2,000-acre dairy farm managed by Gerald Garber, who graciously took time out of his schedule give us a tour through his facility. At the farm, we embarked on a tour of the dairy operations, meeting cows and horses along the way. Seeing a working farm was a new experience for many of the students, most of whom are city-dwellers or suburbanites. We had a fun and educational excursion as we saw newborn calves and climbed into massive tractors. In addition, Mr. Garber shared his insights on agricultural changes in the past thirty years and enlightened us on his duties as a member on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors.

After leaving the farm, the class journeyed to Harrisonburg. There, we were informed about the city’s multifaceted restoration efforts. We had lunch at Capital Ale House with Richard Baugh and Abe Shearer of the Harrisonburg City Council. They gave us unique insight into the functions of local governance. One theme that resonated throughout their comments was the intrinsic link between the small city of Harrisonburg and the not-so-small James Madison University. Both the city and university feed off of each other’s successes and work closely to solve community problems. Currently, the city is investing towards revitalizing its historic areas. Our class witnessed this process during a walking tour of Harrisonburg with Eddie Bumbaugh of the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance project. Mr. Bumbaugh showed us exciting projects like the famed Farmer’s Market, a multi-purpose community facility, and the mesmerizing Museum of American Jewelry Design & Manufacturing in a repurposed ice house.

After exploring Harrisonburg, we traveled to James Madison University, the alma mater of Lauren Gilbert, Director of Programs at the Sorensen Institute. She took us on an informal walking tour that highlighted JMU’s great academic opportunities. As we strolled, Ms. Gilbert explained the unique traditions there, like the famous monolithic limestone known as the “kissing rock”.

With our day over and the sun’s heat in full effect, the class trudged back to the bus. Some slept on the way back to U.Va., while others peered out at the countryside, lost in thought. Upon arriving, we were welcomed by the rising moon. We slept as its milky light quenched the thirst of day.

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

HSLP 2015: Day 11 - Tuesday, July 21
Jul 21 2015 - 11:01pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2015
Day 11: Tuesday, July 21
Reported by: Kiera Goddu and Dharaa Rathi, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

This morning we woke up bright and early to head to class promptly at 9 a.m. to hear from our first speaker, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo. He had a frank conversation with us about the role of law enforcement and how holding police accountable in a fair way is a much more difficult task than it seems. His levity and directness allowed for a very engaging and productive conversation about the triumphs and shortcomings of policing in a modern era.

Later, we heard from Katy Hurtz who represented and presented on campaign finance and transparency, or the lack thereof, in Virginia politics. Her presentation dovetailed into a later discussion in class over the validity and feasibility of campaign finance reform in the nation and the Commonwealth.

As our policy presentations are fast approaching we were all schooled in some presentation tactics from our lovely YPMs and their BuzzFeed-inspired PowerPoint.

Our final speaker of the day was Max Burns from, who shattered some dreams of working in the White House by age 25, but managed to dish out some “real talk” about careers in politics and communication. He also reassured us that Facebook experience (within reason) is an applicable work skill.

After returning to the dorms, exhausted, we all started work on our policy projects as our rough drafts are due at midnight! With graduation in sight on Saturday and a field trip on the docket for tomorrow everyone can’t wait to get some much needed sleep after these projects are finished. 

Look for more photos of our day coming soon on the Sorensen Facebook page.

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Featured Alumni

  • Conaway Haskins.jpg

    Conaway Haskins

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2006

    Conoway is the Director of Sponsored Research and Economic Development at Virginia State University. He perviously served as Deputy State Director for U.S. Senator Jim Webb.