"Across the Aisle" PBS Documentary
May 30 2014 - 10:26am

The 2008 public television documentary Across the Aisle follows the Political Leaders Program Class of 2007 during its 10-month program across Virginia.

Class members come face to face with their personal biases and political limitations by arguing against their own positions, breaking down political stereotypes, spending real time with their opponents, balancing a state budget, and touring state-run facilities to learn a new and highly functional approach to politics.

Across the Aisle is a poignant and personal story that reveals a new model for political leadership, in which the most powerful tools are civility, trust, and respect.

The documentary was produced courtesy of Fred Scott, a member of the Sorensen Institute's State Advisory Board. 


Sorensen Alumni Weekend, June 6-7 at Montpelier
May 1 2014 - 3:23pm

We are delighted to be hosting our first Sorensen Alumni Weekend, June 6 -7, at James Madison's Montpelier.

This event, modeled after a PLP weekend, begins with a tour of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women on Friday, and wraps up on Saturday with a discussion with U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy and others, including a retired judge and a co-director of the Innocence Project. In between are many chances to meet and mingle with other alumni, and we expect friendly discussions about politics and policy will continue into the night.

This event is open to all alumni.  The cost is $125 per person. If you would like to stay overnight at Montpelier the cost will be an additional $75 (shared room) or $150 (private room).  

To secure your spot, please call Tracy Tanner Bond (434-982-4943) by Tuesday with your payment information.

Sorensen Alumni Weekend
June 6 – 7, 2014
James Madison’s Montpelier
Orange, Va.

Friday, June 6
Noon          Optional lunch
2 p.m.        Tour of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women with Albemarle County Sheriff, Chip Harding (CTP ’06)
5:30 p.m.    Reception and heavy hors d’ oeuvres at Montpelier
7:00 p.m.    Alumni after hours gathering
Saturday, June 7
8:30 a.m.     Breakfast
9 a.m.         Volunteer debates
9:30 a.m.     U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Va., Timothy Heaphy (PLP 2005)
10:30 a.m.   Panel Discussion with: Judge Steve Helvin, retired Albemarle General District Court Judge, Deirdre Enright, Director of Investigation for the Innocence Project Clinic at UVA Law
Noon           Adjourn

Announcing the CLP and HSLP Classes of 2014
Apr 15 2014 - 9:51am

We are delighted to announce the 2014 College Leaders Program and High School Leaders Program classes. Members of the CLP will meet in Charlottesville on June 14, and members of the HSLP will meet in Charlottesville on July 12. Congratulations to all!

College Leaders Program:
Christian Alcorn, Williams College; Richmond
Bennie Ashton, Randolph-Macon College; King George
Kayla Atkins, Longwood University; Farmville
Dani Bernstein, University of Virginia; New York, NY
Jack Burden, University of Virginia; Harrisonburg
Desyre Calloway, Christopher Newport University; Lynchburg
Evelyn Clark, Roanoke College; Collinsville
Tim Coleman, Hampden-Sydney College; Vienna
Nicole Falgiano, James Madison University; Woodbridge
Meredith Gillet, James Madison University; St. George
Terrance Harris, Hampden-Sydney College; Collinsville
Charlotte Horne, Randolph-Macon College; Fredericksburg
Mark Jamias, Columbia University; Suffolk
Lori Lawson, George Mason University; Newport News
Chris McGrath, Virginia Commonwealth University; Midlothian
Ray Roakes II, Virginia Commonwealth University; Richmond
Yonas Samuel, Virginia Tech; Annandale
Matthew Shapiro, Virginia Commonwealth University; Glen Allen
Chance Stone, Old Dominion University; Mechanicsville
Vikhyath Veeramachaneni, Virginia Commonwealth University; Alexandria
Bridget Whan Tong, University of Richmond; Wilmington, DE

High School Leaders Program:
Melissa Alberto, Robert E Lee HS; Lorton
Maddie Albertson, Fredericksburg Academy; Stafford
Jordan Arnold, Rockbridge County HS; Lexington
Ann Bauhan, Harrisonburg HS: Harrisonburg
Brittany Beckwith, Midlothian HS; Midlothian
Rob Braislford, Jr., Patrick Henry HS; Roanoke
Peter Brodzik, Douglas S Freeman HS; Richmond
John Campbell, George Washington HS; Danville
Sophie Crowell, Halifax County HS; South Boston
Rachel DePalma, Granby HS; Norfolk
Ose Djan, Episcopal HS; Falls Church
Galen Green, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Glen Allen
Kiran Hampton, South Lakes HS; Great Falls
Meredith Hooper, Albemarle HS; Charlottesville
Nikki Kothari, TJHSST; Herndon
Ashton Lum, Jamestown HS; Williamsburg
Devin MacGoy, Potomac Falls HS; Potomac Falls
William Marker, Central HS; Kenbridge
Debbie Mayo, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Richmond
John Metz, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Richmond
Robin Owens, Godwin HS; Henrico
Haden Parrish, Fluvanna County HS; Palmyra
Reshini Premaratne, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Glen Allen
Sahana Ramani, TJHSST; Herndon
Sam Rossi, Middleburg Academy; Leesburg
Saajan Sappal, Glen Allen HS; Glen Allen
Michael Thompson, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Midlothian
Kathleen Warner, Home Educated; Warrenton
Mason Wheeler, Patrick Henry HS; Roanoke
Connell Zelazny, James Monroe HS; Fredericksburg

HSLP Alternates:
Alex Workman, Fredericksburg Academy; Fredericksburg
Katie Zalegowski, James Monroe HS; Fredericksburg
Jack Jiranek, St. Christopher's School; Powhatan
Nicole Maldonado, TC Williams HS; Alexandria

EVENT: 2014 Spring Gala in Richmond
Apr 4 2014 - 1:08pm

The Sorensen Institute invites you to a Spring Gala welcoming the new administration. Join us on Friday, May 16 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center for an evening devoted to Trust, Civility and Respect in Politics. The black-tie event begins at 6 p.m.

You can have your business or organization sponsor a table! Contact Colleen Smith at 434-982-4910.

Speakers include Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, Bill Howell, and Tommy Norment.

After dinner, the evening continues at a special alumni afterparty across the street at the Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown at 9 p.m. All Sorensen alumni, including those who cannot attend the Gala, are invited to the afterparty. Potential program applicants are also welcome. (There is no dress code for the afterparty—black tie and casual attire are equally appropriate.)

To purchase Gala tickets, visit To RSVP for the free alumni afterparty, email

EVENT: 8th Annual General Assembly Reception
Jan 29 2014 - 12:05pm

You Are Invited!

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
8th Annual General Assembly Reception

Tuesday, February 18
5:00pm - 8:00pm

Williams Mullen Center, 15th Floor
200 South 10th Street, Richmond

By Tuesday, February 11


This event, which has become a must-attend gathering in the Richmond political social calendar, recognizes our alumni in the Virginia General Assembly. Sorensen is proud to honor our 24 alumni currently serving in the General Assembly and statewide office.

This event is free and open to all Sorensen alumni, supporters and members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Sorensen wishes to thank our Event Sponsors:
Advantus Strategies
Alliance Group
Eckert Seamans
Kemper Consulting
Lindl Corporation
Macaulay & Burtch
National Filter Service
The Vectre Corporation
Virginia Association of Health Plans
Williams Mullen


*Image courtesy Taber Andrew Bain.

McAuliffe Appoints Sorensen Alumni
Jan 14 2014 - 2:24pm

Sorensen alumni have been chosen for key positions in Gov. McAuliffe's administration.

Governor's Administration

Brian Coy (CLP 2006), Press Secretary, Office of the Governor
Victoria Cochran (PLP 2007), Deputy Secretary of Public Safety
Evan Feinman (PLP 2012), Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources
Grindly Johnson (PLP 1996), Deputy Secretary of Transportation
Aubrey Layne (PLP 2011), Secretary of Transportation
John Newby (PLP 2011), Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security
Maribel Ramos (PLP 2007), Director of the Virginia Legislative Office
Felix Sarfo-Kantanka, Jr. (PLP 2004), Legislative Director, Office of the Governor

Congratulations to all!

Congratulations also go out to the following Sorensen alumni who have been hard at work on the Governor's transition team and inaugural committee.

"Common Ground for Virginia" Transition Committee:
Del. Jennifer McClellan, Chair (PLP 2001, CTP 2005) 
Jaime Areizaga-Soto (PLP 2009)
Del. Alfonso Lopez (PLP 2003)
Del. Chris Peace (PLP 2004)
Jody Wagner (PLP 1994, Fall)

Inaugural Committee:
Judy Anderson (PLP 1994, Fall)
Sen. Adam Ebbin (PLP 2000)
Del. Mark Keam (PLP 2012)
Margi Vanderhye (CTP 2005, PLP 2006)



Photo of Gov. McAuliffe's inauguration courtesy of Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office


Announcing the Political Leaders Program Class of 2014
Jan 7 2014 - 11:07am

We are delighted to announce the Political Leaders Program Class of 2014. These participants will meet for the first time in Williamsburg on March 13-15 to begin their program. Congratulations to all!

Ross Airington, Richmond
Naila Alam, Herndon
Cash Arehart, Williamsburg
John Bolecek, Richmond
Steven Botello, Manassas
Jessica Bowser, Alexandria
Nicole Brenner, Richmond
Janet Brooking, Richmond
Linda Bryant, Chesapeake
Gretchen Bulova, Fairfax
Max Burns, Arlington
Nell Desmond, Staunton
Brian Elson, Alexandria
Hollee Freeman, Henrico
Jenni Gallagher, Blacksburg
Colin Hood, Arlington
Alex Johnston, Lynchburg
Amy Lamb, Callao
Amy Laufer, Charlottesville
Manuel Leiva, Leesburg
Dean Lynch, Chesterfield
Judy Lynch, Midlothian
Ashley McLeod, Virginia Beach
Michelle Millben, Alexandria
Eric Payne, Richmond
Dustin Rinehart , Virginia Beach
Scott Russell, Warrenton
Craig Schranz, Norfolk
Christi Sheffield, Charlottesville
David Skiles, Centreville
Barrett Stork, Virginia Beach
Jay Swanson, Alexandria
Adam Tolbert, Saltville
Tamikia Vasquez, Virginia Beach
Mark Vaughan, Midlothian
Chris West, Danville
Keith Wine, Glen Allen
Erica Woods-Warrior, Hampton

Thank you to all applicants and interviewers who took part in this year's extremely competitive selection process.

2013 Election Day Results
Nov 7 2013 - 3:44pm

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership congratulates all of our alumni who stood for election this month, those who were victorious and those who were not elected, for offering their time and toil and talent to serve the public.

We recognize all the hard work that went into running for elective office and thank all the men and women who made the effort. The following alumni were elected this Tuesday:

State Sen. Ralph Northam, who was elected lieutenant governor;

Delegates Rich Anderson, David Bulova, Scott Garrett, Tag Greason, Charneile Herring, Mark Keam, Kaye Kory, Lynwood Lewis, Alfonso Lopez, Danny Marshall, Jennifer McClellan, Randy Minchew, Chris Peace, Mark Sickles, David Yancy and Joseph Yost;

Delegate-elect Glenn Davis;
Delegate-elect Michael Futrell;
Delegate-elect Monty Mason;

Albemarle School Board member-elect Kate Acuff;
Charlottesville Sheriff James Brown;
Charlottesville Commissioner of the Revenue-elect Todd Divers;
Madison Supervisor-elect Clay Jackson;
Martinsville Commonwealths Attorney-elect Clay Gravely;
Nelson Supervisor Connie Brennan;

If you know of other alumni who were elected to local offices Tuesday, please contact our Executive Director, Bob Gibson, at

Now Accepting 2014 Youth Program Manager Applications
Oct 29 2013 - 12:53pm

Youth Program Manager
Position Announcement

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is seeking applicants to be a Youth Program Manager in the summer of 2014 for its College and High School Leaders Programs.
Both programs are residential at the University of Virginia. Each program is two weeks, with the College Leaders Program scheduled for June 14-28, and the High School Leaders Program being held July 12-26.
Desirable qualifications are: effective time management skills; a high degree of organization; the ability to work with high school and college students in a residential and classroom setting; knowledge of Virginia government and politics; significant peer leadership experience; experience working in a peer-to-peer counseling setting; a good understanding of professionalism; strong written and oral communication abilities; and excellent human relations skills.  Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree by the program start date.  Applicants should also be prepared to bring a personal computer or laptop for their own use, and it would be beneficial for an applicant to have a car.
The regular positions will run from June 12 until July 29. During the program, Youth Program Managers will be required to live in residence with the students every night and work each day, with some half-days off duty.  There will also be some vacation time between programs. There may be some limited work requirements to assist in preparation for the youth programs in late May and early June.  Program Coordinators will receive room and board with the students during the programs, as well as a university parking pass, in addition to a stipend.
Applications should include: a current resume; a letter of recommendation; three references that may be contacted; and a brief letter explaining why the applicant is interested in the position.
Questions and applications can be directed to Lauren Gilbert at (434) 243-2844, or Lauren Gilbert, Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, P.O. Box 400206, Charlottesville, VA 22904.  Applications must be submitted by Sunday, January 26, 2014 at midnight for consideration.  Qualified applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview via phone after this date.


$2,400.00 plus room, board, and meals during program
Applications must be submitted by Sunday, January 26, 2014 at midnight for consideration.

A. The full time position runs from June 12 to July 29.

B. Be in residence at the University of Virginia at all times when students are in the dorms with some time off each week.

C. Assist in the daily operations of the programs - supervise students during the day, be on call certain evenings to assist students, serve as a mentor and guide for students, complete administrative work at the Sorensen office, etc.

D. Travel with the programs on all field trips.

E. Advise students in preparation of their culminating project as outlined in program materials. Oversee at least one student research group.

F. Provide administrative support during the program - help with coordination of activities, contact with speakers, development of culminating project groups, evening activities.

G. Coordinate social events for the students in the programs.

H. Provide reasonable assistance to the Sorensen Institute in the recruitment and selection of program participants.

I. Assist in evaluating students completing the CLP or HSLP for academic credit.

J. Other tasks necessary for the operation of the programs as requested by the Sorensen Institute's staff.


Sorensen hosts Autumn Gala Nov. 8 in Arlington
Sep 23 2013 - 12:30pm

The Sorensen Institute welcomes you to an Autumn Gala celebrating our 20 years of service to Virginia. Join us on Friday, Nov. 8 at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City for an evening devoted to Trust, Civility and Respect in Politics. The black-tie event begins at 6 p.m.

Speakers include Gerry Connolly, Tom Davis, Jeannemarie Davis, Margi Vanderhye and Evan Thomas of Newsweek and "Inside Washington."

After dinner, the evening continues at a special alumni afterparty at Siné Irish Pub in Pentagon Row beginning at 9 p.m. All Sorensen alumni, including those who cannot attend the Gala, are invited to the afterparty. Potential PLP and CTP applicants are also welcome. (There is no dress code for the afterparty—black tie and casual attire are equally appropriate.)

To purchase Gala tickets, visit To RSVP for the free alumni afterparty, email


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Featured Alumni

  • Bobby Mathieson.jpg

    Bobby Mathieson

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 1999

    Bobby is a U.S. Marshall serving Virginia's Eastern District.

    He was a Virginia Beach police officer from 1975 to 2002, retiring as a master police officer. He later held a leadership post in the state Department of Criminal Justice and was subsequently elected to the Virginia House of Delegates where he represented the 21st District.