VIDEO: Founders Award
Apr 17 2013 - 2:58pm

Leigh Middleditch, co-founder of the Sorensen Institute, presented Sorensen's first Founders Award at this month's Gala. Award-winner Walt De Vries' Institute of Political Leadership in North Carolina was the inspiration for the Sorensen Institute. De Vries was also responsible for bringing Middleditch and co-founder Michael Bills together in 1993.

Michael Pearlmutter, executive director of the Institute of Political Leadership in North Carolina, accepted the award on behalf of Walt De Vries.



2013 Youth Program Participants Announced
Apr 16 2013 - 9:26am

Members of the Sorensen Institute staff and regional boards have completed an exhaustive review of a record number of highly qualified applicants for admission to the 2013 College Leaders and High School Leaders Programs. We're proud to announce the College Leaders Program Class of 2013 and the High School Leaders Program Class of 2013! These students have proven themselves to be active and engaged citizens in their communities. We can't wait for them to join us in Charlottesville this summer!

College Leaders Program Class of 2013

Maggie Anderson, Roanoke College; Madison
Aaron Barden, Virginia Commonwealth University; Richmond
Elias Bekri, Radford University; Moneta
Christopher Boden, Hampden-Sydney College; Washington, D.C.
William Brackin, Old Dominion University; Hampton
Rachel Brooks, The College of William and Mary; Virginia Beach
Jory Bunn, Old Dominion University; Virginia Beach
Joniel Cha, The University of Virginia; Leesburg
Andres Chovil, George Mason University; Annandale
Kate Cude, Piedmont Virginia Community College; Charlottesville
Emily Dean-McKinney, The College of Wooster; Charlottesville
Chase Grogg, Hampden-Sydney College; Williamsburg
Brendan Hood, Virginia Commonwealth University; Colonial Heights
Toni Jones, George Mason University; Richmond
Zhina Kamali, Virginia Commonwealth University; Vienna
Daniel Ku, Virginia Commonwealth University; Fairfax
Max Maurer, Hampden-Sydney College; Oak Hill
Claire Nadolski, Lynchburg College; Virginia Beach
Colman Packard, Hampden-Sydney University; Charlottesville
Richard Pantele, Hampden-Sydney College; Richmond
David Snyder, Christopher Newport University; Fairfax
Stephanie Tipple, The University of Mary Washington; Warwick, RI
Blake Wheelock, The University of Virginia; Lynchburg
Andrew Whitley, Virginia Tech; Chilhowie
Jermayne Wright, Virginia State University; Norfolk

High School Leaders Program Class of 2013

Tyler Ambrose, William Fleming and Roanoke Valley Governor’s School, Roanoke
Sarah Ashman, Douglas S. Freeman High School, Richmond
Eric Asplund, Douglas S. Freeman High School, Henrico
Hayley Batten, Jamestown High School, Williamsburg
Jack Boettger, George C. Marshall High School, Vienna
Thomas Cannella, Poquoson High School, Poquoson
David Cohn, Charlottesville High School, Charlottesville
Mason Davenport, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Henrico
Alana Davitt, Norfolk Academy, Virginia Beach
Tim Dodson, Western Albemarle High School, Charlottesville
Sofa Getachew, Washington-Lee High School, Arlington
Oscar Guardado, James River High School, Richmond
Nicole Jackson, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Richmond
Isa Kivlighan, Stuart Hall School, Staunton
Emma Leeds Armstrong, Monticello High School, Charlottesville
Mattie Leibowitz, West Potomac High School, Alexandria
Rachel Lim, Deep Run High School, Henrico
Eddie Lin, Tallwood High School, Virginia Beach
Sarah Mosley, Yorktown High School, Arlington
Brian Murray, Cape Henry Collegiate School, Virginia Beach
Owen O’Hare, Carlisle School, Chatham
Meriwether Roberts, Collegiate School, Richmond
Amar Singh, South Lakes High School, Herndon
Rhea Somaiya, The Madeira School, Fairfax
Shaarada Srivatsa, Charlottesville High School, Charlottesville
Yash Tekriwal, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Glen Allen
Elisha Untiedt, Chilhowie High School, Marion
Peyton Wall, Fuqua School, Farmville
Sophie Webb, Western Albemarle High School, Charlottesville
Benjamin Zook, Loudoun Valley High School, Lovettsville


VIDEO: Tribute to Bill Wood at Spring Gala
Apr 15 2013 - 11:18am

The 2013 Sorensen Gala on April 2 brought nearly 400 Virginians together in Richmond to honor our current and former Lieutenant Governors and Attorneys General.

Cooper Center director John Thomas began the evening with a heartfelt tribute to Sorensen's founding executive director Bill Wood, who passed away Nov. 16.



Watch the Newsroom for more video of this event in the upcoming week, and keep an eye on our Facebook page for a wealth of Gala photos coming soon.

Gov. Baliles to speak in Danville Monday, April 22
Apr 8 2013 - 3:05pm

Jerry Baliles, former Governor of Virginia, will speak in Danville on Monday, April 22, at the at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

Baliles, a native of Patrick County, will discuss his path to leadership as part of the Southside Public Leadership Series sponsored by the Sorensen Institute and the Danville Register & Bee.

The 7 p.m. talk, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a Sorensen reception. The public is invited to attend both the talk and the reception and to participate in the question-and-answer period. The media is welcome and cordially invited to attend.

Baliles is Director and CEO of the Miller Center, a nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.

He previously served as a Virginia legislator, Attorney General and Governor. During his tenure as Governor, he served as Chairman of the National Governors Association.

Baliles serves on the Boards of Altria and Norfolk Southern, is on the board of the Council on the Study of the Presidency and Congress, served as Chairman of PBS for multiple terms, and has served on several other civic and corporate Boards, including Newport News Shipbuilding, the Nature Conservancy in Virginia, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. 

Congratulations CTP Class of 2013
Jan 30 2013 - 2:05pm

Congratulations to the Candidate Training Program Class of 2013, who graduated this Sunday in Millwood, Va.

Lettie Bien – Charlottesville
Tawana Campbell – Spotsylvania
Freeda Cathcart – Roanoke
Katie Cyphert – Lynchburg
Todd Divers – Charlottesville
Michael Futrell – Woodbridge
Clay Gravely – Martinsville
Jahangir Kabir – Brooklyn, NY
Jeremy McPike – Woodbridge
Jesse Rosenbaum – Alexandria
Matt Scoble – Burke
Robert Short – Lynchburg 

GALA 2013: Richmond Convention Center, April 2
Jan 22 2013 - 12:50pm

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership will host its annual Spring Gala on Tuesday, April 2 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

This year's event honors Virginia's Lieutenant Governors and Attorneys General. Speakers will include Mary Sue Terry, Jerry Kilgore, Don Beyer, John Hager and keynote speaker Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour.

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

Visit for directions, tickets and sponsorship opportunities.  

Gov. McDonnell and eight former Governors of Virginia at Sorensen's 2012 Governors Gala
EVENT: 7th Annual General Assembly Reception
Jan 8 2013 - 1:22pm

You Are Invited!

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
7th Annual General Assembly Reception

Tuesday, January 29
5:00pm - 8:00pm

Hunton & Williams
Riverfront Plaza, East Tower, 20th Floor
951 East Byrd Street, Richmond

By Tuesday, January 22


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 22 alumni currently serving.

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
Hunton & Williams
Kemper Consulting
Lindl Corporation
Macaulay & Burtch
The Vectre Corporation
Virginia Association of Health Plans


*Image courtesy taberandrew

Sorensen Announces PLP Class of 2013
Dec 18 2012 - 11:41am

The Sorensen Institute is delighted to announce the names of those Virginians who have been accepted to the Political Leaders Program Class of 2013. The 2013 PLP will enjoy its first session together March 14-16 in Williamsburg.  Each of these Virginians has been recognized as an emerging community and statewide leader.  Congratulations to them all!

Katherine Acuff, Charlottesville
Lawrence Anderson, Richmond
Lettie Bien, Charlottesville
Jon Chasen, Locust Grove
Lee Coburn III, Glade Spring
Jacob Colley, Haysi
Tom Cosgrove, Williamsburg
Elizabeth Dietzmann, Virginia Beach
Frank Fannon, Alexandria
Tom Fitzpatrick, Richmond
Howard Foard III, Fairfax
Kimberly Geiger, Big Stone Gap
Danna Geisler, Chesterfield
Ross Grogg, Virginia Beach
Natalie Hart, Blacksburg
Carrie Hileman, Richmond
Mehmood Kazmi, Great Falls
Spencer Kimball, Alexandria
Patrick Knightly, Glen Allen
Lovely Lall, Leesburg
Ruth Larson, Williamsburg
Christopher Lindsay, New Kent
Andria McClellan, Norfolk
Suyong Min, Arlington
Barry Moore Jr., Chesterfield
Ashley Reynolds, Roanoke
Megan Rhyne, Williamsburg
Alejandra Santaolalla, Arlington
Thomas Scanlon, Arlington
Brandon Schall, Fairfax Station
Brian Schoeneman, Fairfax
Kanwar Singh, Richmond
Clarence Tong, Alexandria
Osmay Torres, Virginia Beach
Peg Willingham, Falls Church
Michael Wooten, Woodbridge

Now Accepting Youth Program Applications Through March 4
Dec 17 2012 - 11:45am
The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is now accepting applications for the High School and College Leaders Programs. The High School and College Leaders Programs offer advanced, concentrated study in state and local politics, gaining hands-on training in politics, acquiring the information necessary to discuss Virginia politics and the skills to make a difference.
Students in the Sorensen Institute programs engage in substantive debate about challenges facing the Commonwealth. Students have the opportunity to learn key advocacy skills such as lobbying, fundraising, opinion writing, media and more. Students interact with Virginia's current public, private, and nonprofit leaders. Past speakers have included U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Governor Bob McDonnell, Governor Tim Kaine, members of the General Assembly, Congressional leaders and other policy makers from around Virginia. 
The College Leaders Program will take place from June 1 - June 15, 2013 and will be made up of approximately 25 student leaders from across Virginia. The cost of the College Leaders Program is $1,800, which includes all room and board.  Scholarships and financial aid are available. Read more at
The High School Leaders Program takes place from June 22 - to July 6, 2013 and will be made up of approximately 30 student leaders from across the state that are at least rising juniors or 16 years old by the program start date. Students will receive three undergraduate credits from the University of Virginia for their participation. The cost of the High School Leaders Program is $1,800 which includes all room, board and three U.Va. college credits.  Scholarships and financial aid are available. Read more at
The College and High School Leaders Programs applicant pool is evaluated to create a highly qualified and diverse class. Participants will be chosen from among all academic majors and backgrounds. Scholarships for program tuition are available and potential applicants are strongly urged to apply regardless of financial concerns.
To learn more about the programs or to apply please visit our applications page at
The application deadline will be Monday, March 4 at 5 p.m. but applying early is encouraged!


Now Hiring Youth Program Managers for 2013 CLP and HSLP
Dec 13 2012 - 5:10pm
Youth Program Manager

Position Announcement
The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is seeking applicants to be a Youth Program Manager in the summer of 2013 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 taking place from June 1 to June 15, and the High School Leaders Program taking place from June 22 to July 6.
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; 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, as well as a car.  
The regular positions will run from May 29 until July 8. During the program, Youth Program Managers will be required to live in residence with the students every night and work on average 6 days a week, with some vacation between the two programs. There will be some limited work requirements for recruitment and review of applications starting in February 2013. Program Coordinators will receive room and board with the students during the programs, as well as a university parking pass, in addition to a $2.200 stipend.
Applications should include a current resume and relevant references, in addition to a brief letter explaining why the applicant is interested in the position. One letter of reference is required.
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 January 28, 2013 at 5:00 PM for consideration.  Qualified applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview after this date.


$2,200 plus room and board during program
Applications must be submitted by January 28, 2013 for consideration.

A. The full time position runs from May 29 to July 8, 2013.

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, 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.


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Featured Alumni

  • Andy Block.jpg

    Andy Block

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2006

    Andy is the director of the U.Va. Law School's Child Advocacy Clinic.

    From 1998 to the spring of 2010 he was the founder and legal director of the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, a program that represents low-income children across the Commonwealth of Virginia.