Thirty-five 'Emerging Leaders' Accepted at U.Va.'s Sorensen Institute

January 08, 2008

Jan. 8, 2008 — The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership today announced the names of those Virginians that have been accepted to its Political Leaders Program Class of 2008.

Sorensen's Political Leaders Program brings together approximately 35 emerging leaders each year from across the Commonwealth-including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents-to study the public policy issues facing Virginia. The Sorensen Institute has become the premiere national model of successful bi-partisan leadership training. And its Political Leaders Program has become something of a traditional "first step" towards elected office in Virginia. Participation in the program is incredibly competitive, with more than twice as many applicants each year as there are available seats.

The Sorensen Institute now has over 1,000 graduates of its various programs. Sixteen graduates will serve in the Virginia General Assembly this year-2 in the Virginia Senate and 14 in the House of Delegates; three graduates are serving in Governor Kaine's cabinet; and dozens more have been appointed to boards and commissions or are serving in critical positions of leadership in local governments or in the private sector.

A record number of Sorensen alumni ran and won office in the recent November 2007 elections. Forty-eight graduates were successful at the polls including 16 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and 12 Independents.

The Sorensen Institute celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, having been founded in 1993 to identify, educate, and inspire Virginia's future political and community leaders. Sorensen aims to create ethical, principled leaders who are eager to put aside partisan stereotypes and work cooperatively with others who have different political affiliations than their own to improve the quality of life for all Virginians.

The Sorensen Institute is a non-partisan organization that works to better the quality of governance at all levels throughout the Commonwealth. The Sorensen Institute does not participate in campaigns on behalf of issues, causes, or candidates for office. Though it is housed at the University of Virginia, the Sorensen Institute relies entirely on donations and grants from individuals, corporations, and foundations to support its programs.

Those Virginians who have been chosen to be members of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2008 are:

Robert Barnette, Mechanicsville

Melissa Bell, Alexandria

Kenneth Bernstein, Arlington

Ana Lucia Buckman, Arlington

Michael Chapman, Charlottesville

Brett Coffee, Burke

R. David Cox, Lexington

Anthony Dale, Alexandria

Steven DeLuca, Richmond

Robert Dorton, Lebanon

Patricia Edmonson, Virginia Beach

Stella Edwards, Colonial Heights

Christopher Fairchild, Palmyra

Sherry Foti, Roanoke

William Frank, Richmond

Dominic Gabello, Arlington

Sarah Godlewski, Arlington

J.D. Morgan Guthridge, Richmond

Kristie Helmick, Mechanicsville

Aryana Khalid, Stafford

W. Matthew Leighty, Richmond

Cheryl Lewis, Charlottesville

Arthur Lichtenberger, Charlottesville

Jennifer McKeever, Charlottesville

Brent Mckenzie, Virginia Beach

Helen O'Beirne, Richmond

Chris Piper, Midlothian

Kala Leggett Quintana, Burke

Bryan Michael Rhode, Richmond

Liane Rozzell, Arlington

Susan Spears, Fredericksburg

Joseph Walton, Powhatan

Claire Winiarek, Chesapeake