Alumna Williams Develops New Mediation Training to Benefit Virginia
Jun 13 2006 - 3:04pm


Congratulations are due Vickie Williams, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005. At a recent gathering of the Virginia Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution, Vickie, who works with the State Board of Elections, presented a new "train-the-trainer" course in the Samoan Circle technique. This is a tool used to facilitate mediation in a group facing a particularly polarizing issue.

Vickie co-developed this course, which has been approved by the Virginia Supreme Court as a Continuing Mediation Education Credit. Vickie serves on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Chapter of the ACR and is also a Certified Mediator for the Virginia Supreme Court.

Way to go Vick!

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Joyce Waugh
Jun 13 2006 - 8:43am

Name: Joyce Waugh
Age:   53
Born: Chattanooga, TN but grew up in Orlando, FL
Current Digs: Roanoke, VA
Occupation:   VP for Public Policy and Strategic Issues at the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
Favorite part about the job: The challenge and the people, always the people
First job ever?  I worked on a flower farm with my mother filling the flower buckets with water at age 4 or 5 in Delray Beach, FL. I was paid about fifty cents a week, probably from my mother's earnings.
Favorite book? The Last Ship
Favorite movie?  Alien Mine
Must See TV?  M.A.S.H.
Comfort food? Dark chocolate
What's in your car CD player right now?  Gravity, by Tess Garrison
Next journey? Mission trip to NYC in August to "paint the town"
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you?  Jumped out of an airplane when I was 46.
Last gift you received?  Coming home from Richmond (SIPL) via Routes 60 and 24, the gift of a fabulous array of redbuds along nearly the entire stretch of Route 24 in Appomattox.
Best advice you ever got?  Be yourself and trust your instincts; they're usually your experiences coming to bear.
Whom do you admire and why? My parents who taught me the importance of hard work and a good education. Mom, who earned her GED while I was in community college and Dad, who could grow ANYTHING (one of our orange trees grew five different citrus fruits due to Dad's handy grafting skills), and excelled in his life though he only had a third-grade education.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  Tony Blair. In addition to appreciating his command of the English language, I appreciate his intellect.
Ambition, political or otherwise? A high level appointment that includes international  travel.
Describe a perfect day.  My family members are healthy and happily, employed or retired. My husband and I are on a trip to Greece or wherever having a great time. Actually, every day is perfect, whether or not I realize it at the time.

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 17
Jun 13 2006 - 8:18am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 17--June 12
Reported by: Elizabeth Hooper of Radford University

Elizabeth Hooper of Radford University

    Today we started the second half of the College Leaders Program, "the Thoughtful Citizen," with Dr. Tom Shields.  After getting to know Tom, as we have been instructed to call him, we dove right into Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  Our discussions focused on equality, sovereignty, and the centralization of power in democratic governments.  Many agreed with de Tocqueville that citizens have a tendency to turn inward, forgetting the responsibility to one's community— allowing despotism to occur.  By late morning we began discussing Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, and the lack of what he refers to as social capital.  Everyone had unique and thoughtful comments on why this phenomenon has occurred in the United States. 
    After we returned from lunch, the gray skies had cleared and we had another beautiful day in the Commonwealth.  This afternoon we had the opportunity to meet with the President of the Virginia Auto Dealer’s Association, Mr. Don Hall.  He gave us wonderful insight into the life of a full-time lobbyist, and the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed in the Virginia General Assembly.  Shortly thereafter, we had the pleasure of listening to Senator Emmet Hanger.  Senator Hanger discussed many current issues facing the Commonwealth.  The most interesting and debated topic that we dealt with was the divide between the House and Senate over Virginia’s transportation dilemma.  Overall, it was a very interesting discussion.
    As another day passes, we are all working hard on our Group Culminating Projects.  Still, we always seem to have time to relax a bit, enjoy each others company, have a few laughs, and of course, talk politics.  Tomorrow we head for Washington D.C. to meet with various Congressmen. I am sure they will add to our political discussions the important national issues that are facing our great country today.
    I would like to add on a more personal note that the people here are truly remarkable.  Coming from very distinct backgrounds and areas of the state, each individual brings something different to this great program.  It excites me every morning that I have the opportunity to interact with many of the Commonwealth’s future leaders.  I can only see great things for the time we have left here at Sorensen, and wish each student here the very best. 

--Elizabeth Hooper, Radford University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 16
Jun 12 2006 - 10:05am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 16--June 11
Reported by: Anja Davis of Virginia Commonwealth University

Anja Davis of VCU

     We began our day with Ben Greenberg from Planned Parenthood. He spoke to us about the life of a lobbyist. He told us about how he became a lobbyist, some of the things he does day to day, and about some of the challenges that he has faced. I must say, after hearing about the tough job they have, I have a new found respect for lobbyists.
     We then had a great discussion on the issues regarding immigration. We discussed how it has effected our lives, and the three different approaches to seeing immigration in America. We all benefited from discussing the different opinions on immigration in America. It is a complicated issue, and dealing with it will take some time.
    The last event of the day was socializing with some of the previous member of the CLP classes. This was a fun time to ask them questions about their time in CLP, and seeing how the program has helped them in their life after Sorensen. All in all, this was a very educational and enjoyable day.

--Anja Davis, VCU

2006 College Leaders Program: Thank You Dr. Kidd
Jun 12 2006 - 9:31am


On Friday June 9--Day 14 of the 2006 College Leaders Program--Dr. Quentin Kidd taught his last lecture of the summer to the class.

An Associate Professor of Government and Public Affairs at Christopher Newport University, Dr. Kidd has taught the first segment of the College Leaders Program since its inception in 1999.

The Sorensen Institute is proud and fortunate to work with Dr. Kidd. He is one of the primary reasons the College Leaders Program is such a powerful course. We want to extend our thanks to Dr. Kidd and our wishes for a great summer. See you next year!

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 15
Jun 12 2006 - 9:09am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 15--June 10
Reported by: Shonda A. Copeland of Norfolk State University

Shonda Copeland at the General Assembly

    Tempers flare and good dreams die hard on the floor of the Mock General Assembly. Today was the most riveting experience of my short legislative career. We were afforded the opportunity to act as if we were members of the Senate. We experimented with passing bills that would enhance our society and “killing” legislation that we thought was not in favor of the views of our constituents.
    The Sorensen Institute is quickly coming to a close as we have finally learned to be tolerant of other individuals’ viewpoints. There was a bit of tension during the previous weeks, but we have officially created a new Sorensen Institute family. I am excited and blessed to be welcomed into the social, and hopefully the professional, network of more political super powers! I look forward to the upcoming events that the Sorensen Institute “masterminds” have conjured up.

--Shonda A. Copeland, Norfolk State University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 14
Jun 12 2006 - 8:56am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 14--June 9
Reported by: Eric Paulson of Virginia Tech

Eric Paulson at the General Assembly in Richmond

    Today marked the halfway point of our stay here at the Sorensen Institute, I can't believe the time has gone so fast. Its amazing how close we have all become in a relatively short amount of time. Today was unfortunately our last day with Dr.. Kidd. I think I speak for everyone when I say that he is truly one of the most intelligent and innovative teachers I have ever had. His views on politics in Virginia were both creative and thought provoking.
    After lunch we were privileged to have Victor Branch, Senior VP of Bank of America, speak to us about the banking industry and how they use governmental relations to help promote their business. I was amazed to hear about all of the donations they make to non-profit groups as well as the history of banking in Virginia. He stressed to us the importance of picking a profession that you truly enjoy doing.
    We then were able to break up into out mock General Assembly caucuses to discuss our parties views on the bills that we had all proposed the night before. Some of the bills were quite entertaining, and even the project managers voiced their support. It was interesting to see how the debates are run in each party and the amount of strategy and planning that goes into it. Tomorrow we will be holding the actual mock General Assembly when we will debate and vote on the proposed bills.
    Finally we ended our day by presenting our culminating projects to the class. I heard several bills that stand a great chance of making it to the actual General Assembly next year. It is amazing what kind of innovative ideas college students can come up with to tackle issues facing Virginia. These proposals take an extraordinary amount of time and energy, and the quality reflects it.
    Well, its time to get back to working on some of these proposals and to get ready for the debates tomorrow. Until next time...

--Eric Paulson, Virginia Tech

Lawrence Interviewed for NPR
Jun 12 2006 - 8:44am

John Lawrence of Lynchburg, a member of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006, was interviewed for a recent National Public Radio story about Jim Webb's bid for the Democratic nomination to run against George Allen for  U.S. Senate in November. Webb is running against Harris Miller for the nomination. The primary election will be held across Virginia tomorrow, Tuesday, June 13.

Click here to listen to the radio story.

The Sorensen Report for Friday, June 9, 2006
Jun 9 2006 - 10:31am

The Sorensen Report for Friday, June 9 is attached to this post.

This Week: A Constitutional Crisis in Virginia?

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 13
Jun 9 2006 - 10:29am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 13--June 8
Reported by: Veronica Tessler of Virginia Commonwealth University

Veronica Tessler, Emad Maghsoudi of VCU, and Katherine Ely of Old Dominion University

    Today began rather unusually, as my roommate and I were awoken by our suitemate urging us to evacuate due to a fire alarm. Fortunately, it was a false alarm apparently due to someone taking too long and too hot a shower? Aside from the early awakening, the day was an interesting and productive one.
    Our first speaker today was Delegate David Toscano. He was a genuine and personable man. I found it interesting that he had been actively involved in some international issues before entering into politics. For example, he helped encourage South Africa to change from an apartheid regime to adopt democratization. Of course, the current budget crisis was brought up and Delegate Toscano shared his views on that issue.  He really held my attention by providing insight on many topics.
    After Delegate Toscano, Barbara Kessler of UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies led a resume workshop. She had edited copies of each of our resumes, and we learned about how to improve on a clear, concise and creative  “marketing tool” as we move toward finding a professional career. Ms. Kessler’s workshop served as a breath of fresh air, as she offered some practical and non-politically related material.
    After lunch, Sheri Iachetta talked to us about her job as the City of Charlottesville’s Registrar. She touched on voter apathy, since we in Virginia are (or should be) constantly voting. It was interesting to recognize the level of power one person has in controlling who can and cannot vote. Ms. Iachetta brought to light the law of domicile and place of abode regarding college students’ ability to vote in the localities of their universities. Apparently most Virginia state universities, aside from UVA, do not allow students to vote in local elections while living at school.
    Sadly, today was our second-to-last class with Dr. Kidd, as our Informed Citizen lens is coming to a close tomorrow. We have really enjoyed having him teach us and appreciate his dedication to the program, embarking on 5-hour round-trip drive several times a week. Today we discussed state government issues, revenue stream problems, and transportation. Tonight we met with our parties for the mock General Assembly and voted on the leadership of the party. This will be a busy night with our individual bill proposals for the mock General Assembly and our group culminating project meetings. Off to work…

--Veronica Tessler, Virginia Commonwealth University

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Featured Alumni

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    Ralph Northam

    Candidate Training Program

    Class of 2007

    Ralph Northam was elected to serve as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2013 and previously represented the 6th District in the Virginia Senate. He has a pediatric neurology practice at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk where he has treated sick children since 1998.