2020 Sorensen Leadership Awards

The Sorensen Institute is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Sorensen Institute Leadership Awards. The awards will be presented at Sorensen’s annual Gala on April 23 at Richmond’s Altria Theatre. (Gala tickets are available at sorensengala.eventbrite.com, and sponsorship opportunities are still available!)

The winners of the Leadership Awards were nominated by Sorensen alumni and friends, on the basis of the following criteria:

  • They demonstrate integrity, commitment, and courage to build bridges across political, social, and/or economic divisions in the Commonwealth.
  • They deliver extraordinary service and results as an elected official, board or commission appointee, community or political leader, or volunteer within the Commonwealth.
  • They demonstrate exceptional leadership in the public, private, or non-profit sectors of our Commonwealth in pursuit of understanding and cooperation consistent with the principles of the Sorensen Institute.

Winners of the Sorensen Leadership Award

Ben Davenport

Benjamin J. Davenport Jr. has been a driving force behind efforts to revitalize the economy of Southside Virginia, championing the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville which was created in 2004 with Virginia Tech as an academic partner. Mr. Davenport currently serves as Chairman of both First Piedmont Company and Davenport Energy, a large petroleum provider with 7 regional offices and more than 21,000 customers throughout Southern Virginia and North Carolina. A loyal Virginia Tech alumnus, Mr. Davenport served on the university's board of visitors from 2002 to 2010. He was rector from 2004 to 2006, during one of the most challenging periods in Virginia Tech's history — the tragedy of April 16, 2007, and its aftermath.

Suzy Kelly

A recognized leader in the Northern Virginia business community, Jim Dyke has served as chairman of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, as well as chairman of the Emerging Business Forum, an organization focused on enhancing minority and women entrepreneurs in business. He currently serves senior advisor at Mcguire Woods Consulting, and previously served as Virginia's secretary of education under former Governor Wilder and as domestic policy advisor to former Vice President Mondale. Mr. Dyke is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Dupont's J. Michael Brown award for his accomplishments in diversity, recruiting and mentoring in the legal profession.

Emerging Leadership Award Winners

Emily Brewer


Delegate Emily Brewer represents Virginia's 64rd District.



Delegate Jay Jones represents Virginia's 89th District.

Chairman's Award




David Foster is a former president of the Virginia Board of Education.


Lifetime Leadership Award




John Warner is a distinguished former United States Senator from Virginia.