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2017 HSLP Classes Announced

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Sorensen Institute is thrilled to announce the participants in our 2017 High School Leaders Programs.  This year, due to increased demand, Sorensen will hold two separate sessions of the High School Leaders Program.  Both these classes of students will live in Charlottesville on Grounds at UVA for two weeks and will participate in an intensive learning expereince that will immerse them in Virginia politics, policy, governance, ethics in leadership, and bipartisanship.  The HSLP is designed to help strudents build the knowldge and skills they need to step forward as leaders in their communities.  We are excited to spend the summer with these excellent students!

High School Leaders Program 2017 Group A
July 1st - 15th
Nick Begotka, Thomas Jefferson High School, McLean
Ben Berrett, Princess Ann High School, Virginia Beach
Alexandra Casker, Chatham Hall, Danville
Yirehi Del Valle Roman, TC Williams High School, Lorton
Fitz Elder, St. Anselm’s Abbey School, Waterford
Moira Euker, Lighthouse Academy of Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg
Ben Fallica, St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Charlottesville
Nadia Faour, Potomac High School, Falls Church
Jack Fife, St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Charlottesville
Avery Gagne, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Mechanicsville
Julianna Jones, New Kent High School, New Kent
Pari Kapila, Douglas S. Freeman High School, Richmond
Neil Kothari, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Herndon
Carolyn Lemens, Annandale High School, Alexandria
Ava Liberty, McLean High School, McLean
Kibiriti Majuto, Charlottesville High School, Charlottesville
Megan McEvoy, Roanoke Catholic School, Roanoke
Claire Melton, John S. Battle High School, Bristol
Hayden Miller, Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach
Alex Moreno, Western Albemarle High School, Crozet
Scotti Mullen, Madison County High School, Pratts
Matthew Nalls, Summit Christian Academy, Yorktown
Catherine Qian, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Glen Allen
Alex Romano, Forest Park High School, Dumfries
Schaefer Shelton, Granby High School, Norfolk
Cam Smithers, Hanover High School, Ashland
High School Leaders Program 2017 Group B
July 22nd - August 5th
Iram Amir, The Steward School, Richmond
Carlos Brown, Jr., Henrico High School, Glen Allen
Eleni Fafoutis, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach
Lucas Johnson, Monticello High School, Charlottesville
Liana Keesing, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, McLean
Andrew Kendall, Craig County High School, New Castle
Thomas Liu, Langley High School, McLean
Chloe Lowell, St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Free Union
Matthew Marsh, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach
Chip Maurer, James Monroe High School, Fredericksburg
Ted McPhillips, Granby High School, Norfolk
Sinead Nardi-White, Nelson County High School, Lovingston
Richard Robles, Potomac Falls High School, Sterling
William Rodriguez, Saint Christopher’s School, Richmond
Landon Sawyer, McLean High School, McLean
Avery Shivers, Christchurch School, White Stone
Chase Smith, Douglass S. Freeman High School, Richmond
Akhil Srirama, Henrico High School, Glen Allen
Choetsow Tenzin, Albemarle High School, Charlottesville
Priya Tran, Keystone National High School, Chantilly
Sabina Vohra, John Randolph Tucker High School, Henrico
Avery Warmack, Woodberry Forest School, Woodberry Forest
Parker Watts, James River High School, North Chesterfield
Maggie Wells, Tunstall High School, Danville
Alex White, Luray High School, Luray

Spring Gala Honoring John Hager

Friday, March 10, 2017
The Sorensen Institute is pleased to announce that our 16th Annual Spring Gala will honor former Lt. Gov. John Hager for his service to Sorensen and to the Commonwealth. 
John is the immediate past Chariman of the Sorensen Institute Statewide Advisory Board. He has served with distinction as the Director of Homeland Security for Virginia, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, and Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Join us on Monday, April 3 for a wonderful evening with food, friends, and special guests as we honor John. Tickets are available now at
This spring, for the first time, the Gala will feature a silent auction. Items run the gamut from professional executive coaching, to trip to Martha's Vineyard, to a signed memoir about the Cuban Missile Crisis. You can browse the entire catalogue at Bidding will open on Monday, March 27, so you can be a full participant in the silent auction even if you can't attend the Gala. You can also sign up to donate an item, service, or experience for the auction.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available through March 22—contact Colleen Smith at 434-982-4910 to start the conversation.

Sorensen Announces 2017 Candidate Training Program Class

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sorensen Institute is happy to announce the members of the 2017 Candidate Training Program class.  These participants will spend four days at Carter Hall in Millwood, Virginia learning about how to run both an ethical and winning campaign for public office.  Congratulations to all!

Kenny Boddye, Woodbridge
Richard Breeden, Spotsylvania
John Cooper, Woodbridge
Matt de Ferranti, Arlington
Aaron Edmond, Woodbridge
Brent Furbee, Johnson City
Bryan Green, Richmond
Rod Hall, Woodbridge
Tyler Hosford, Alexandria
Cuong Huynh, Alexandria
Dava Kauffman, Newport News
Jennifer Lewis-Hershman, Alexandria
Natalie Miller-Moore, Williamsburg
Chris O'Neal, Fredericksburg
Kimberly Parsons, Henrico
Arika Phillips, Midlothian
Alicia Plerhoples, McLean
Sarah Smith, Glen Allen
Kellen Squire, Barboursville
Tim Thornton, Shawsville
George Urban, Charlottesville

Sorensen to Lead Panel at Tom Tom Festival's Hometown Summit

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tom Walls wilI will be representing the Sorensen Institute during the Hometown Summit this April, where he will moderate a panel on civility in politics and help a national audience learn about Sorensen’s work.

An initiative of Tom Tom Founders Festival, the Hometown Summit is a conference dedicated to fostering innovation in small cities across the United States.

As the pace of technological and social change increases in our communities, Tom Tom’s organizers believe that big ideas about leadership, business, our workforce, and the built environment are more important than ever.

Three hundred policymakers, thought leaders, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and practitioners from all over the country will come together in Charlottesville for three days of ideas, exchange, and inspiration.
The Hometown Summit will begin at breakfast on April 13 and will conclude by early afternoon on April 15. The registration deadline is March 15.
Learn more and register at the 2017 Hometown Summit site.

PLP 2016 Profile: Tony Riley

Monday, January 30, 2017
Tony Riley
Birthplace and/or where you grew up:
Portsmouth, Va
Current Digs:
Chesapeake, Va
Deputy City Treasurer, City of Chesapeake
Favorite part about the job:
Interacting with and serving Taxpayers on a daily basis.
Your first job ever:
Hot Dog Cook - Ray's Dog House
Favorite Book:
The Road - Jack Kerouac
Comfort Food:
Any Filipino food
What’s playing in your car right now?
Frank Sinatra
Next journey?
Roanoke for PLP!
Favorite Virginia destination?
Farmville, Va!
First political memory?
Imelda Marcos' shoes
Best advice you ever got?
Do it right the first time.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why?
Elon Musk. After participating in a debate on climate change this year in Sorensen, it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the future of electric cars and solar energy.
One thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
A lot of people don't realize I am half Filipino when they first meet me.
Ambition, political or otherwise?
Next on my list after PLP is the Candidate Training Program!
Favorite part about the PLP?
The people! You meet so many brilliant individuals in the PLP program.

11th Annual Legislative Reception, Feb. 6

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

You Are Invited!

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
11th Annual Legislative Reception

Monday, Feb. 6
5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Gateway Plaza, 18th Floor
800 East Canal Street, Richmond

RSVP by Feb. 2

This event has become a must-attend gathering in the Richmond political social calendar and is open to all Sorensen alumni, supporters, and members of the Virginia General Assembly.

It's not too late to become a sponsor of Sorensen's Legislative Reception! Contact Colleen Smith at (434) 982‑4910 or

Sorensen wishes to thank our Event Sponsors:
Alliance Group
Advantus Strategies
Altria Client Services
Apex Clean Energy
Appalachian Power
Bistro 27
Cox Communications
David Bailey Associates
The Gaston Group
Haley Buick GMC
Kemper Consulting
McGuireWoods Consulting
National Filter Service
Larry Roberts
Luck Companies
Two Capitols Consulting
Vectre Corporation
Virginia Automobile Dealers Association

PLP 2016 Profile: Albert Flores

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Albert "Bubba" Flores
Birthplace and/or where you grew up:
San Jose, California
Current Digs:
Richmond, Virginia
Attorney - Prosecutor; Major, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves
Favorite part about the job:
As a prosecutor, I appreciate that I am responsible each day for upholding the U.S. Constitution and the laws of Virginia.  The stakes are high for all persons involved, and I am privileged to be charged with such responsibility.
Your first job ever:
Lifeguard at Raging Waters in San Jose, California.  I have never been more tan in my life.
Favorite Book:
“Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson.  A true story about a small group of shipwreck divers who took incredible risks over a period of six years in the early 1990s to determine the identity of a German U-Boat submarine sunk off the coast of New Jersey during WWII.  The incredible story reminds me that recreational ambition is important to maintain a balanced life, and that passion is a powerful force in this short life we have on earth.
Comfort Food:
Pizza.  Anytime, anywhere.
What’s playing in your car right now?
An audio book: “Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore” by Jay Sekulow.  If the audio book is not on, I’m flipping back and forth between NPR, 90’s rap, e.g. Tupac, the local country station, or “The Boss” (Springsteen).
Next journey?
Fatherhood.  In 2015 my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world – a beautiful girl, Miriam.  We are expecting a son this coming December.  Everyday I spend with my family is a blessing and I hope to be the father and husband they deserve.  But, my wife recently gave me the green light, and I’m currently working towards becoming to be the first person to conquer Mt. Everest above and below the sea.  Above: Mt. Everest.  Below: dive the Andrea Dorea shipwreck, known as the Mt. Everest of shipwreck dives because of the treachery and difficulty of the dive.
Favorite Virginia destination?
Crabtree Falls in the George Washington National Forest in Nelson County.  My wife and I would never leave there if we didn’t have to worry about the real world.
First political memory?
The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster on January 28, 1986.  That day, President Ronald Reagan was supposed to deliver the State of the Union Address.  Instead, he led the nation in mourning by delivering a national broadcast in lieu of the State of the Union Address.  My parents sat me down to watch his speech.  It was the day I learned of space travel and of the President of the United States.
Best advice you ever got?
Be kind and be pleasant to people because everyone is facing a battle in his or her own lives.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why?
Without hesitation, until he died this year, it would have been Muhammad Ali.  His courage to stay true to his convictions in the face of personal sacrifice while enduring public disapproval inspires me.  But now, it would be the Rock.  If you know anything about him, you would know that his work ethic is practically unrivaled.  At dinner, I would be sure to give him my best impersonation of him.
One thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
As a child, my biggest fear was to be abducted by aliens.  I have the movie “Fire in the Sky” to thank for that.  The fear still sits with me.
Ambition, political or otherwise?
The experiences I gained from combat and military service have shaped the person I am, and my vision of the person I hope to become.  I have a deeper appreciation for life, community, leadership by example, and the hardship that comes with preserving the security of our great nation.  I intend to apply my experience in furtherance of service to my community and to our country where my efforts will be helpful.  Where that road leads is to be determined.  But, I owe it to those who did not return home from combat with me, to keep serving and live life well.
Favorite part about the PLP so far?
My peers.  We have such a diverse group of folks, all talented and dedicated to improving the world around us.

PLP 2016 Profile: Jennifer Bowles

Monday, January 16, 2017
Jennifer Bowles
Birthplace and/or where you grew up:
Martinsville, VA
Current Digs:
Martinsville, VA
International Sales at Hooker Furniture
Vice Mayor of Martinsville, Va
Favorite part about the job:
It's so rewarding to help people. There's no greater feeling. I love making a difference in people's lives and being their voice.
Your first job ever:
Collinsville Bistro as a waitress
Favorite Book:
The Harry Potter Series and The Souls of Black Folk-W.E.B. Du Bois
Comfort Food:
Shrimp Linguini Alfredo
What’s playing in your car right now?
Cranes in the Sky-Solange
Next journey?
Roanoke, Va for our next PLP session
Favorite Virginia destination?
My hometown, it shaped me into the person I am today
First political memory?
Going with my grandmother to work the polls
Best advice you ever got?
My father told me to believe in my dreams and stay true to myself.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why?
President Barack Obama---he's an inspiration to so many!  He's also the first president I was able to vote for.
One thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I'm a true Southern girl and I sometimes carry Tabasco sauce in my purse
Ambition, political or otherwise?
To make the world a better place in any way I can.
Favorite part about the PLP so far?
The people I've met who have become friends for life. Also, the ability to travel across the different areas in the state and learn about their needs and issues.

Sorensen Announces 2017 PLP Class

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Sorensen Institute is delighted to announce the members of our first class of 2017.  The Political Leaders Program Class of 2017 participants will meet for the first time in Williamsburg on March 9-11 and will meet eight more times through the month of December.  Congratulations to all!

Political Leaders Program Class of 2017

Melanie Avery, Sterling
Carl Bedell, Arlington
Michael Berger, Alexandria
Michael Berlucchi, Virginia Beach
Brent Blevins, Jr., Alexandria
Hendrick Booz, Alexandria
Jana Braswell, Chesterfield
John Butler, Norfolk
Joell Christodonte, Virginia Beach
Helen Clemens, Alexandria
Julianne Condrey, Doswell
Joyce Connery, Woodbridge
Kai Degner, Harrisonburg
Erika Dyer, Centreville
Charlie Hale, Grundy
Bo Hammond III, Arlington
Brad Hansell, Alexandria
Uzziah Harris, Richmond
Paula Jasinski, Saluda
Joseph Jones, Richmond
Takis Karantonis, Arlington
Aliaa Khidr, Charlottesville
Grant Kidwell, Arlington
Trieste Lockwood, Richmond
Elaine Luria, Norfolk
Praveen Meyyan, Arlington
Cat Mosley, Charlottesville
Jesse O’Connell, Alexandria
Josh Ogburn, Charlottesville
Helen Phillips, Abingdon
Ryan Ramirez, Reston
Claudia Santiago, Alexandria
Arthur Scott, Arlington
William Stratton, Virginia Beach
Moon Sulfab, Springfield
Alice Tong, Alexandria
Barbara Williams-Lewis, Richmond

PLP 2016 Profile: Natale Ward Christian

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Natale Ward Christian
Birthplace and/or where you grew up:
Richmond, but I grew up in Connecticut and New Jersey
Current Digs:
I have lived in Hampton for the past 20 years, 5 minutes from my job,  love it.
Executive Director of the Hampton Newport News Community Services Board, the 2nd largest CSB in the Commonwealth, I might add.
Favorite part about the job:
Making a difference in the lives of individuals impacted by Behavioral Health, Substance Use Disorders and Developmental Disabilities.
Your first job ever:
Camp Counselor at age 14. I guess I was destined to work with people.
Favorite Book:
The Bible
Comfort Food:
All of them
What’s playing in your car right now?
Next journey?
I hope to soon visit a friend who now lives in South Africa.
Favorite Virginia destination?
I love the Peninsula and all of Hampton Roads.
First political memory?
The death of John F Kennedy, as a tearful 4 year old I wondered why everyone was so sad.
Best advice you ever got?
To whom much is given much is required.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why?
President Obama, So many questions,  but mainly because he is an amazing man.
One thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I lived in Europe for 6 years, Loved it but there is no place like home.
Ambition, political or otherwise?
To fulfill my current job responsibilities to the greatest extent, by continuing to help the people who depend on me everyday for an improved quality of life. I hope to retire in the next 7 years and open an ice cream parlor. No problems allowed just Ice Cream.
Favorite part about the PLP so far?
I have enjoyed visiting different localities in Virginia. It was also wonderful meeting so many interesting people, (love the Millennials).   The staff have been awesome! Thanks for the journey!