BREAKING NEWS: Alumna Celebrates New Baby
Jun 16 2006 - 11:38am


Congratulations to Cathleen Grzesiek (shown left), a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005, who recently welcomed a new baby girl into the world!

Caroline Mary Grzesiek arrived last Friday, June 9, 2006 at 3:57 p.m. She weighed 7lbs 8oz and was 19 1/4 inches long. Both mommy and baby and doing great, just getting some well-needed rest.

Welcome Caroline!

Barefoot Radio Update
Jun 16 2006 - 10:26am

The Sorensen Institute's Coy Barefoot recently interviewed Bob McDonnell, the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, on his afternoon radio program Charlottesville--Right Now.

Click here to listen to the complete audio of the interview with the Attorney General.

On the same day, Coy also interviewed Larry Roberts, Counselor to Governor Tim Kaine.

Click here to listen to the complete audio of the interview with Larry Roberts

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 19
Jun 15 2006 - 8:33am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 19--June 14
Reported by: Bradley DeRemer of the University of Mary Washington

Bradley DeRemer of the University of Mary Washington

    The CLP class caught a lucky break today, thanks to the thoughtfulness of our program leaders and Sorenson’s Executive Director, Sean O’Brien. Due to our early rising yesterday and our busy schedule on and around Capitol Hill, they were kind enough to allow us some time to sleep in today.
    After catching up on our sleep, we had an informative and enjoyable session with Coy Barefoot, who taught us about the importance of media relations. We discussed a variety of ways to get our message across to various news sources, and the finer points of developing and maintaining relationships with reporters, bloggers, and producers. In addition to this beneficial knowledge, Mr. Barefoot was also kind enough to give us all copies of his new book, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership.
     After our session with Mr. Barefoot, we continued our discussion of public policy issues within the Commonwealth as part of "The Thoughtful Citizen," which was facilitated by Dr. Tom Shields. Today’s class focused on the process of crafting public policy, and the various lenses through which policies can be analyzed and supported. After a thorough discussion, we headed back to our apartments and worked on our group projects. We’ve all put a lot of effort into them so far, and it will be satisfying for us to turn in our overviews and literature reviews tomorrow morning. All in all, it was another fulfilling day at Sorenson.

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 18
Jun 15 2006 - 8:15am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 18--June 13
Reported by: Andrew Almand of Christopher Newport University

Andrew Almand of Christopher Newport University

    Today the Sorensen CLP class went to Washington to learn about leading change.  Our day began bright and early around 5am, and we arrived in D.C. around 9am.  Being that most of us were first-time visitors, many were really amazed with the ornateness of the Capitol's interior.  For me, I know it was only my second time visiting the Capitol and I had forgotten how slippery the floor was!  I later learned that the Capitol's floors are incessantly waxed by staff to ensure a glossy polish at all times.
     Our first port of call was House Caucus Room 8.  We met with Congressman Moran from the Eighth District of Virginia.  His blunt and liberal-toned remarks certainly caught many by surprise.  We immediately transitioned into Congresswoman Thelma Drake from the Second District of Virginia.  She certainly adopted a less provocative tone and insisted that she wanted us to control the dialogue by quickly moving to Q and A.  We then met with a staff member of Senator Warner's who spoke to us on the benefits of Capitol Hill service.  He reflected on many of his experiences and took several questions from the CLP class.  We then spoke with Congressman Cantor from the Seventh District of Virginia.  Mr. Cantor was in the middle of a floor vote, and his time with us was rather brief.  He told us how honored he was to be the Deputy Majority Whip in the House of Representatives.
      Next, it was Capitol Tour time!  We left HC-8 and began a circuitous route to the main corridor of the Capitol Building where we were led by a staff around the more ornate parts of the building.  We learned a great deal about the many statues in the Capitol, the paintings in the Rotunda, and the natural acoustics of certain parts of the building.  Again, many of us were just amazed with wonderment at the beauty of the Capitol's interior.  We then went to what I called "the Reagan Room," because of its decorations, but I believe it was the Majority Whip, Roy Blunt's, Conference Room.  We met with CLP inaugural class member and now the Policy Advisor to the Majority Whip, Brian Diffell.  Brian was young and inspiring to many of us and spoke with great joy about his position.  For many of us, we got to see how the Sorensen Institute had prepared one of its own for a position of leadership and service.
    Okay so lunch, yeah we had to walk a few blocks to the Van Scoyek Law and Lobbying Firm Building.  Van Scoyek had graciously agreed to harbor and feed us for lunch while we met with one of their attorneys and Alfonso Lopez, Director of the Virginia Liaison Office.  It was a working lunch that consisted of sandwiches, chips, sodas, and cookies, but it was a very good and comfortable lunch as we sat around a massive conference room table in big, comfy, chairs.  Alfonso Lopez was truly dedicated to his position. He explained to us how he represents the interests of the Commonwealth in the Halls of Congress.  He further offered potential internships for the coming fall, and there was a bit of Sorensen CLP networking at the conclusion of his talk.  Many of us were surprised by his good memory as he remembered things most would forget.
    When we returned from Van Scoyek, we went back to HC-8 and continued meeting with speakers until Dinner.  We began the second half of the day with Congressman Tom Davis from Eleventh District of Virginia.  Tom Davis was slow starting but seemed to enjoy having the opportunity to interact with us, as we did with him. Senator Allen entered the room next.  George Allen, who is popular among many in our CLP class, was a very good speaker and seemed very energized by our presence.  He spoke candidly and his comments were very well received. He was able to speak with us for a good while, almost 25 minutes, so we asked a substantial number of questions. We were supposed to meet with Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode of the 5th District, but he was on the House floor addressing some legislation and was unable to join us.  After a bit of downtime, Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia met with us and did a very good job.  He had gotten some grey hair since I had seen him last, but he appeared very sharp.  He spoke about U.S. relations with the Chinese government and how he served on a special committee to exclusively focus on that.  After some Q and A, he left and we were escorted to the House Gallery to watch  the ensuing debate.
    Again, a circuitous route was taken, but the House Gallery was pretty neat.  We saw many Congressmen and Congresswomen trying to get support for and against legislation. Everyone really enjoyed the Gallery, but we were getting hungry.  We again walked a few blocks, this time to Union Station. We ate at one of the restaurants within the great structure and had a really good time reflecting on the events of the day. For dinner I had a cup of clam chowder and a caesar salad...which really hit the spot.  After dinner, we boarded the great blue and orange bus and headed back to Charlottesville.

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

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Featured Alumni

  • Jesse Ferguson.jpg

    Jesse Ferguson

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2004

    Jesse serves as the Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    He was Brian Moran's Chief of Staff during Moran's tenure as Democratic Caucus Chairman in the Virginia House of Delegates and was also the communications director on Moran’s Democratic primary campaign for Governor. Jesse is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and a co-founder and former Executive Director of Virginia21.