Alia Stewart-Silver at the HSLP 2006 Graduation
Jul 26 2006 - 12:55pm

Alia Stewart-Silver of Charlottesville was the Graduation Speaker for the Class of 2006 High School Leaders Program.

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Dr. Tom Shields at the HSLP 2006 Graduation
Jul 26 2006 - 12:25pm

The Sorensen Institute's High School Leaders Program Class of 2006 graduation was held this past Saturday at the UVA Rotunda. Dr. Tom Shields, who has helped to teach the program since its inception, addressed the gathered group of students, parents, and friends. Dr. Shields was introduced by Marc Johnson, the Director of Youth Programs at the Sorensen Institute. (Click the "Odeo player" below to listen to Dr. Shield's remarks. This post and others to follow will include audio from the event).

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Webb/Allen Debate #1
Jul 24 2006 - 12:15pm

For those who are interested in hearing the first debate between Jim Webb and George Allen (held this past Saturday at the Homestead in Bath County), the Charlottesville Podcast Network has audio now available online.

Click here to listen to the debate.

High School Leaders Program Class of 2006 Graduates
Jul 24 2006 - 11:56am

Congratulations to the members of the High School Leaders Program Class of 2006- twenty one of Virginia's best and brightest young people who spent the last two weeks in Charlottesville studying Virginia politics. Their graduation was held at the UVA Rotunda on Saturday, July 22. The Sorensen Institute is especially proud of this year's High School Program, we were all so impressed by their smarts and determination. The Commonwealth is definitely in good hands for the future.

Note: A podcast with audio from the graduation will be posted to the blog later this week.

Two of this year's students, Ellen Marsteller of the Richmond area and Carlos Quintela of Northern Virginia, were  interviewed last Friday on "Charlottesville--Right Now." Click below to hear that interview.

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Fifer Informs Attorneys General
Jul 24 2006 - 11:23am

Craig Fifer, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2003, will be speaking this afternoon in Washington to the National Association of Attorneys General about podcasts, video, and blogging. Fifer is the E-Government Manager for the City of Alexandria.

Virginia's own Attorney General Bob McDonnell does not podcast; however, Sorensen's Coy Barefoot interviews McDonnell once a month on "Charlottesville--Right Now" and the interview is archived in its entirety online by the Charlottesville Podcasting Network.

Click here for Barefoot's most recent interview with Attorney General McDonnell.

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Sharon Jadrnak
Jul 24 2006 - 10:49am

Name: Sharon Jadrnak
Age: 42.
Born: Hammond, Indiana, a suburb of Chicago.
Current Digs: Emporia
Occupation:  Executive Director (part-time) of Emporia-Greensville Habitat for Humanity, stay-at-home mom, and community activist.
Favorite part about the job:  My time is fairly flexible, and I can set my own schedule.  Working for Habitat gives me an opportunity to help other people and put my Christian faith into action to address local housing needs.
First job ever?  I had a paper route when I was in middle school.
Favorite book?  I've read a lot of books over the years, and I'm too lazy to pick one favorite one.  I read more magazines than books now because they are shorter!
Favorite movie?  I especially the animated movies that seem to be for kids but have a lot of adult-oriented humor, like Shrek and Toy Story.
Must See TV?  If I do sit down to watch, I usually put on HGTV and watch a home-improvement show.
Comfort food?  Chocolate.
What's in your car CD player right now?  I don't have a CD player, just a tape player and AM/FM radio, but the radio is tuned to NPR.
Next journey?  For the foreseeable future, most of my trips will be to visit relatives. The best trip I ever took was my honeymoon to Nepal.
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you?  I like Bluegrass and Cajun-Zydeco music and dancing.
Last gift you received?  A new kitchen table, washer & dryer, and recliner for the house we moved into in December. I like practical gifts.
Best advice you ever got?  I don't know if this is advice, but it is a quote that I like by anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Whom do you admire and why?  A fictional character, Atticus Finch, the lawyer in "To Kill a Mockingbird", because he stood up for what he believed was right, even though many people in his small town did not support his views. 
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  Richmond Mayor and former Governor Doug Wilder because he has spent a lot of time in public service and is trying to address issues facing Richmond so it can be a better city.  I heard him speak recently at a fair housing conference, and I think he would be very interesting to talk to.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  I'd like to see my community be a good place for all of its citizens to live, work, and recreate.  I'd like to bring people together across racial and jurisdictional (city/county/town) boundaries to work on the issues facing the community. Whether or not I can do that as a community activist or elected official is still to be determined.
Describe a perfect day.  Sunny, definitely sunny, but not scorching. Traveling somewhere with my husband and son where we can be outside and see, hear, and/or experience something new. And we’d eat out so I don't have to cook!

Governor Kaine Reappoints Sorensen's Barbara Fried
Jul 20 2006 - 10:30am



In a statement released yesterday, Governor Tim Kaine reappointed Barbara Fried, Chairman of the Sorensen State Board, to the board of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Fried is also a member and former chairman of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees.

Mr. O'Brien Goes to Harvard
Jul 20 2006 - 10:14am


Sorensen Executive Director Sean O'Brien was invited to participate in an exciting program at the Harvard University Business School this week.

Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management brings together dozens of executive directors and managers from across the country, representing a variety of nonprofits--including Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, the YMCA of the United States, Outward Bound International, and many more.

Sean and the Sorensen Institute are very proud to be a part of this positive and effective program.

2006 High School Leaders Program: Day 8
Jul 20 2006 - 8:47am

High School Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 9-- Sunday July 16
Reported by: Ellen Marsteller of Manakin-Sabot

    After a long week of classes and homework, we all boarded the bus that would take us tubing.  We arrived at the James River tubing shop in Scottsville, and made sure we put on plenty of sunblock.  We were all excited to get in the water and grabbed our tubes and set off.  Floating for about an hour, we stopped at a little island to eat lunch.  The food tasted so good – as we were all starving – and I even saw a Jack Russell terrier just like mine. 
    After a leisurely lunch, we jumped back in the water and made our way back to the shop.  The weather was perfect all day, but a lot of us got sunburned.  Kendall was definitely burned the worst but toughened it out as we made our way back to Charlottesville. 
    At 5pm we all met for the High School Leaders Program Reunion and enjoyed meeting last year’s graduates.  Dinner was great; and after a relaxing day, we realized we had a lot of reading to finish.  It was over all a memorable day.

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Christie Craig
Jul 19 2006 - 10:51am

Name:  Christie New Craig
Age: 39 and holding!
Born: Portsmouth, VA and grew up in Chesapeake, VA
Currently Digs: Chesapeake, a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Occupation: Legislative Aide to Delegate John Cosgrove
Favorite part about the job: Politics and working with people
First job ever? Sales Clerk at Bradlees
Favorite Book? Anything by Daniel Steel
Favorite movie? Pretty Woman
Must See TV? Emeril Live
Comfort food? Filet and Lobster
What’s in your car CD Player right now? Eagles Live
Next Journey? Expand my “Christie’s Catering” to new heights
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you? I’m shy, just kidding; I am a very sentimental person.
Last gift received? Diamond earrings, a girl’s best friend!
Best advice you ever got? Earn everything on your own, and then no one can ever take it away from you.
Whom do you admire and why? My parents, Mom who passed away in 1997 and my Father. They brought me up in a loving and caring environment and taught me morals and values and what it takes to succeed.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why? Oprah, I just love her. She is an inspiration to all.
Ambition, political or otherwise? I enjoy working with Delegate Cosgrove and have learned so much, but I also thrive on politics, sooooo maybe one day I will run for office.
Describe a perfect day. Early morning dip in the hot tub with coffee and husband then off to a fun day of boating, fishing and sunning with my family and two black labs.

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Featured Alumni

  • Mike Taylor.jpg

    Mike Taylor

    Candidate Training Program

    Class of 2006

    The first person to graduate from three Sorensen programs, Mike was elected Sheriff of Pittsylvania County in November 2007. He is also a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006 and the Danville-Southside Leaders Program Class of 2005.