Sorensen Mourns Bill Wood
Nov 16 2012 - 4:30pm

It is with a heavy heart and tears that we share the message that our dear friend and former Sorensen executive director Bill Wood passed away early this morning.

Immediate arrangements will occur in Birmingham, but there will be a service, and burial, at a later time in Charlottesville.

Sorensen Alumni Win Office
Nov 7 2012 - 5:02pm

Congratulations to the Sorensen alumni who won on election day!

Jonathan Baliles, Richmond City Council
Kelly Carmichael Booz, Alexandria School Board
Dave Butler, Leesburg Town Council
John Taylor Chapman, Alexandria City Council
Glenn Davis, Virginia Beach City Council
Dan Edwards, Virginia Beach School Board
Kimberly Gray, Richmond City School Board
Robert Hurt, U.S. House of Representatives
Scott Rigell, U.S. House of Representatives
Dave Roberts, San Diego County Board of Supervisors
Amelia Ross-Hammond, Virginia Beach City Council
Paul Smedberg, Alexandria City Council
Leonard Tengco, Virginia Beach School Board
Justin Wilson, Alexandria City Council
Rosemary Wilson, Virginia Beach City Council

If you know of someone we missed, please let us know at with their name and office.


"Out of Order" premieres on WCVE PBS Richmond & WHTJ PBS Charlottesville
Oct 22 2012 - 3:58pm

Over the last generation, citizens have increasingly expressed discontent with national politics. Approval ratings for Congress are consistently low regardless of which party is in power, and many feel that the government is riddled with too much gridlock and partisan gamesmanship. Senior statesmen and women have noted that the collegiality they shared in the past with peers of differing political ideologies has disappeared in this era of polarization. The ability to discuss issues from varying points of view and then compromise on solutions appears to be fading from the American political process. Is the art of debate and compromise lost on contemporary politics in the United States? Is it possible to restore civility to Congress, and should we try? Was civility ever as dominant as current characterizations often suggest?

The Community Idea Stations and the University of Virginia Center for Politics tackle this subject through a production partnership resulting in Out of Order, a thirty-minute documentary, premiering on Thursday, October 25 at 8:30pm on WCVE PBS Richmond and WHTJ PBS Charlottesville.

This timely documentary explores the decline in civil discourse; the news media’s role in this, including the internet; partisan gridlock; vanishing commitment to reasonable compromise; declining civic engagement; and the roles of factors such as gerrymandering, filibustering, increased showboating, scandal, and cynicism. The documentary proposes some reforms that might restore what Thomas Jefferson referred to as “the most legitimate engine of government.” 

Out of Order relies on interviews with prominent academics, journalists, political observers, and senior (current and former) elected officials. The production features first-hand accounts by respected statesmen and women.  Out of Order interviews include Senator Mark Warner, Senator John Warner emeritus, CBS news’ Bob Schiefer, Senator Alan Simpson, and others.

More viewing times around Virginia are listed below:

WCVE Richmond PBS

October 25 8:30pm

WCVW Richmond PBS

October 26  12:00am

October 29  8:00pm

WVPT Harrisonburg PBS

October 28  4:30pm

WBRA Roanoke PBS

October 30  3:30pm

Virginian-Pilot Column Highlights Sorensen Programs
Oct 8 2012 - 3:30pm

Grooming for civil discourse, public service

By Dave Redmond, October 7, 2012

Though the campaign season is closing, the coming lull is a respite, nothing more.

Democracy is renewal. One election cycle ends; another begins. Like the tides, people and issues come and go. But the need for qualified, capable leaders is constant, and it's critical to the largely excellent function of government and industry in Hampton Roads and throughout the commonwealth.

For that, as much as any other institution, Virginians should support the Thomas C. Sorensen Institute For Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, which is recruiting the next rising political class in Virginia and, as always, searching for the financial means to support it.

Full column at»

Panelists Set for Televised 5th District Debate
Sep 26 2012 - 2:55pm

The Sorensen Institute is cosponsoring the only televised debate between Rep. Robert Hurt and challenger John Douglass. It will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.

Moderator Bob Gibson, executive director of the Sorensen Institute, will be joined on the panel questioning the candidates by Sharon Gregory, news anchor, NBC29 in Charlottesville; Len Stevens, news anchor, WSET-TV in Lynchburg, and Tiffany Holland, reporter, Danville Register & Bee.

The event will be free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Sorensen Institute, the Danville Register & Bee, NBC29 and WSET-TV.

The live television broadcast is 7-8 p.m. on NBC29 and WSET-TV.

SLIDESHOW: PLP Weekend in Southwest Virginia
Sep 18 2012 - 5:50pm

The 2012 Political Leaders Program class visited Southwest Virginia last weekend, where they attended sessions on "Energy and Public Policy in Virginia" and "Heathcare Issues in Southwest Virginia." Beyond the classroom, they descended 3,000 feet into the McClure deep mine and attended Bristol's annual Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival.

You can view larger versions of these photos by choosing the fullscreen icon in the bottom right, or by clicking the Flickr logo to view the set on Flickr.

Sorensen To Cosponsor Uranium Forum in Danville
Sep 11 2012 - 5:44pm

The Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership are proud to cosponsor an informational forum on uranium mining in Virginia to be held Oct. 2 at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.

The forum will feature four panelists, two each on either side of uranium mining issues, and will be free and open to the public from 7 to 8:30 p.m. that Tuesday evening.

Panelists will include Patrick M. Wales, project manager of Virginia Uranium Inc.; Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis in George Mason University's School of Public Policy; Jay Poole, spokesman for the Alliance for Progress in Southern Virginia; and Bob Burnley, an advisor to the Alliance for Progress in Southern Virginia.

Moderator of the forum is Bob Gibson, executive director of the Sorensen Institute and a 34-year veteran political writer from Charlottesville.

Emerging Leaders Program Featured in UVAToday
Sep 7 2012 - 12:23pm

Inaugural Emerging Leaders Program Focuses on Bipartisanship, Public Policy

September 4, 2012 | Lisa Kessler

It all started this spring, when Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s office contacted the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, seeking assistance in developing the next generation of state government leaders.

The inaugural Emerging Leaders Program, sponsored by Colonial Williamsburg and State Farm, ended Aug. 26 in Colonial Williamsburg. Its 21 students – Virginians ages 22 to 32 who have worked in state or local government, had spent the month of August developing their leadership skills and learning more about public policymaking in Williamsburg and Richmond. More »

Sorensen Graduates First Emerging Leaders Class
Aug 28 2012 - 10:18am

Jefferson addressed the ELP class.

Everyone at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is proud of this inaugural class of Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) graduates. The class produced and defended three legislative proposals dealing with improvements to state policy for highway safety, returning ex-offenders to society and helping service members reenter Virginia's workforce and higher education system.

Each member of this outstanding class crafted a personal statement about their own leadership goals. They are quite likely to show solid leadership for the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Sorensen thanks Colonial Williamsburg and State Farm for their sponsorship of this first-ever Emerging Leaders Program.


To learn more about the members of the 2012 ELP class, visit their new class page.

Emerging Leaders Program Featured in Daily Press
Aug 8 2012 - 4:45pm

Aspiring Virginia leaders meet in August in Williamsburg

By Jennifer L. Williams, | 757-247-4644

August 8, 2012

A new program for aspiring Virginia leaders kicked off with sessions in Colonial Williamsburg and continues throughout this month.

The eight-day Emerging Leaders Program is sponsored by the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia and was developed in partnership with Gov. Bob McDonnell's office, according to a statement from officials.

The 21 participants, ages 22-32, have each worked in state government and were selected through an application and interview process. Their work with the program includes exercises on policy formation in Virginia.

The group met at Colonial Williamsburg for three days last weekend. Sessions continue Aug. 10 and 20 at the University of Richmond, and Aug. 24-26 at Colonial Williamsburg.

"It's the first time we've ever done this program for young policy makers, and it couldn't have gone better," said Bob Gibson, executive director of the Sorensen Institute. "Colonial Williamsburg was a great starting place. They have the history and the people to interpret the history and bring it to life."

Participants are going through the training because of an interest in becoming more active in public service and public policy, whether as community leaders or appointed officials in the executive or legislative branches, according to officials. The curriculum focuses on three core subject areas: ethics in public service, public policy and policy advocacy skills.

Three groups of seven each will work on policy in three subject areas: How to improve highway safety to cut traffic deaths, how best to re-integrate former felons back into society and how to facilitate the better return of service people into the economy of Virginia, Gibson said.

Each group will put together a culminating project and present it to a group of legislators and academics on Aug. 25.

Speakers from Colonial Williamsburg, the administrations of the current and previous Virginia governors, the University of Virginia, State Farm Insurance and Christopher Newport University were scheduled to address the group in Williamsburg on the subjects of citizenship, ethics in politics and public service, the Revolution, cooperation in state government and team building.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and State Farm are major sponsors of the program.

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Featured Alumni

  • Dan Carey.jpg

    Dan Carey

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2007

    Cardiologist Dr. Dan Carey lives and works in Lynchburg. He is a Major (ret) in the United States Air Force, former President of the Medical Society of Virginia and former President of the Lynchburg Academy of Medicine.