O'Brien Contributes to Analysis of Florida Campaign
Apr 20 2006 - 12:58pm

Sorensen's Executive Director Sean O'Brien was quoted in today's edition of the Orlando Sentinel in Florida.  At issue are ethical questions surrounding a campaign mailer currently being sent to voters in Central Florida.

Click here to read the article


Burke Joins Campaign in the 24th
Apr 20 2006 - 12:53pm


Lindsey Burke, a graduate of the Candidate Training Program Class of 2006, has just recently joined the Sime for State Senate campaign in the 24th District as Campaign Manager.

Brown Celebrates New Responsibilities in Richmond
Apr 20 2006 - 10:04am

Congratulations to Curtis Brown, a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2002 (shown at left in photo with Marc Johnson, Director of our Youth Programs). Brown is now a Special Assistant to Governor Kaine in the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness (state-level Homeland Security). In this capacity, Brown assists with a range of research and reporting on behalf of the Governor.

Prior to this exciting new position, Brown was a political organizer for Governor Kaine's campaign. Brown earned his Master's Degree in Public Administration from Virginia Tech in 2004.

Jennings to be Coro Fellow
Apr 20 2006 - 8:16am


College Leaders Program Class of 2005 graduate Aaron Jennings has been accepted into the highly competitive Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. He will be one of only 64 young men and women from across the country participating in this unique national leadership program. Aaron's field assignment will be St. Louis.

Aaron will spend nine months working, interviewing, and interacting with public, private, non-profit, and labor leaders in the St. Louis community. He will conduct an intensive study of what works and what doesn't when it comes to state and local government.

Aaron writes: "I am truly excited and blessed to have the opportunity to participate in the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. I believe this program will give me direction for my future endeavors, such as a focus in my graduates studies. I will also learn how to effectively galvanize members in my community for positive action, whether for political or communal reasons."

All of us at Sorensen want to congratulate Aaron for this prestigious and most well-deserved honor.

Blazing the Podcast Trail in Alexandria
Apr 19 2006 - 1:37pm


Craig Fifer, the e-Government Manager for the City of Alexandria and a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2003, is showcased in the April/May issue of StateTech magazine.

Specifically, Craig's use of podcasting in Alexandria is presented as a cutting-edge way for local governments to reach out to the citizenry.

“The important thing to keep in mind," Craig said, "is that as the government, we have
to reach our audience where they are, and if they are downloading MP3s,
then we need to be one of the MP3s they are downloading."

Click here to read the full article.

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Claire Ward
Apr 13 2006 - 2:01pm

Throughout this year the Sorensen Blog will be posting individual profiles of the participants in our 2006 programs. We begin today with a profile of Claire Ward (shown above), a member of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006.

Name: Claire Ward   
Age: None of your business.
Born: Palo Alto, California.  I’m a Navy brat, so I grew up all over the world.
Current digs: I live and work in Richmond.
Occupation: Project Manager
Favorite part about the job? Building consensus among stakeholders, managing resources/priorities and getting it done!
First job ever?  An usher at the San Francisco Opera
Favorite book? A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
Favorite movie? Sunset Boulevard, Suddenly Last Summer
Must See TV? The L Word, any flavor of Law and Order.
Comfort food? Cheese toast
What's in your car CD player right now? A dance mix CD that was burned for me by Rick Danger, a Richmond DJ.
Next journey? Pleasure: Washington, D.C. to see the Cézanne and Dada exhibits at the National Gallery and to see Tai Shan at the National Zoo. Business:  Fort Lauderdale.
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you? That I am a journeyman ship fitter (the folks who do structural steel work on ships).
Last gift you received?  Clay impression of my cat Mars' paw
Best advice you ever got? Never let your boss be surprised.
Whom do you admire and why? Jonathan Daniels and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Both of these men were people of great faith and courage who gave their lives in the pursuit of justice. In case you're unfamiliar, here's the scoop on these two: Jonathan Daniels was a VMI graduate and Episcopalian seminarian who went to Alabama to do civil rights work.  In 1965 he was murdered when he stepped in front of a young black girl to shield her from a shotgun blast. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an eminent German theologian who was deeply involved in the German resistance movement. The Nazis executed him in 1945.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why?  The Dalai Lama; because he's got a lot to teach, and I've got a lot to learn.
Ambition, political or otherwise?  Immediate professional ambitions:  PMP and Six Sigma Black Belt certification.  Long term professional ambitions:  Corporate Government Relations job.  Personal ambition:  To live happily ever after.
Describe a perfect day.  Sunny, around 78 degrees.  Kayak down the James with a group of friends.  Home for shower, lunch and nap.  Putter in the garden and play with the dog.  Cook yummy dinner for partner and couple of friends.



Sorensen Staff at Work Building International Relationships
Apr 13 2006 - 1:26pm

While on vacation in Finland this week, our Director of Youth Programs, Marc Johnson (on the right in this photo), met with members of the Finnish government to discuss the work of the Sorensen Institute, and specifically our High School and College Leaders Programs.

Marc met with Tuomas Kurttila (far left), a Planning Officer with the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Education, and Maria Wakeham, a Chief Inspector at their Citizen Participation Policy Programme in the Ministry of Justice.

In an email received today, Marc writes, "We discussed the work of the Sorensen Institute and civic engagement in the U.S. and in Finland. We shared concern over the disengagement of people generally from civic life, especially among the youth in both our countries. They were very interested in our programs, as they don't have any that focus on political leadership. They asked that we stay in touch and please send them more information about Sorensen."

"One of the best advances in ethical education and development..."
Apr 13 2006 - 1:02pm

In a recent online Q&A with the Not Larry Sabato blog, Delegate Brian Moran (46th District) had this to say about the Sorensen Institute: "One of the best advances in ethical education and development has been
the increasing number of members and candidates who graduate from the
Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership which makes ethics a major

Click here to read the full interview with Delegate Moran

Lucy Hutchinson Headed to the House
Apr 12 2006 - 10:10am


Lucy Hutchinson, an alumna of the College Leaders Program Class of 2005, is one of only two James Madison University students who will participate in a five-day simulation of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 17-21 in Washington.

According to a press release from JMU: "Senior Lucy Hutchinson, an international affairs major from Chantilly, Va., will represent Virginia's 10th district, officially represented by Frank R. Wolf, at the U.S. Model House. Hutchinson is a student government senator and finance chair, and is JMU's first fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization focused on educating young leaders."

Congratulations Lucy!

A Capital Semester for Joe Stanley
Apr 12 2006 - 8:35am


Joe Stanley (shown left with House Minority Leader Delegate Frank Hall) is a graduate of Sorensen's High School Leaders Program Class of 2005 and is currently a first-year at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This past semester Joe has worked as an intern in Delegate Hall's office as part of the Capital Semester Program. (the youngest intern Hall's office has ever had, by the way). Delegate Hall was so pleased with Joe's work ethic and skills that he asked Joe to stay on as his interim Legislative Assistant. So not only is Joe a full-time student at VCU (with plans to get involved in SGA), but he works full-time as a Legislative Assistant in the General Assembly as well! Way to go Joe!


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Featured Alumni

  • Chuck Smith.jpg

    Chuck Smith

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2005

    Chuck is a self-employed attorney and current candidate for Virginia Beach City Council. He is a a former Marine and U.S. Navy JAG Officer (Retired). From 2006 to 2008, Chuck served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.