The need for effective leadership in politics, government, and civic life is fundamentally important to the success of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership plays an important role in developing effective leaders.

Sorensen is pleased to be among other leadership programs provided around the Commonwealth, many of which are highlighted below. While we don’t endorse other programs, we do want to increase awareness of those programs and of our own programs.

Sorensen engages in partnerships with other organizations to establish programs that advance Sorensen’s mission. Examples of those partnerships are reflected below.



Advancing Civics logo


Advancing Civics


The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership have formed a partnership designed to encourage greater collaboration among Virginia’s current and future business, government, and civic leaders. This partnership, called Advancing Civics, will host events and recognize Virginia leaders who exemplify the kind of civic-minded collaboration the partnership intends to promote.

Learn more about Advancing Civics.

Regional Elected Leaders Initiative


Sorensen is partnering with the Regional Elected Leaders Initiative (RELI) at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government to develop public policy and leadership training content.

RELI was created to enhance regionalism and support Northern Virginia’s regional elected leaders—General Assembly Members, City and Town Mayors and Council Members, County Supervisors and School Board Members. Through programs and events, RELI helps elected leaders to engage, learn and connect in order to effect positive change for their communities and the Northern Virginia region.


Learn more about the Regional Elected Leaders Initiative.


Leadership Programs


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civiC leadership institute


CIVIC Leadership Institute:  For more than 25 years, the region's premier leadership organization has served its community by connecting and engaging executive-level leaders with the goal of improving life in Hampton Roads. CIVIC Leadership Institute alumni can be found serving on regional boards and authorities, holding positions of influence throughout the commonwealth, and in some cases, representing Hampton Roads nationally. Though the organization provides a critical forum to discuss ideas and hear from experts, CIVIC also presents its membership with the opportunity to engage, participate, and take action in large scale regional initiatives. 

CIVIC Scholars: The CIVIC Scholars program was designed for higher education students to enhance the leadership talent pipeline for the region.  Participants enjoy a curriculum that fosters a spirit of civic engagement, professionalism, and leadership in college students. The program helps to prepare students for their future careers and connect students to the region through mentorship opportunities with established business and community leaders.

Learn more about the CIVIC Leadership Institute and its programs.

Executive Leadership Institute, Bristol Chamber of Commerce


The Executive Leadership Institute is a nine-month leadership training program for high level business professionals that begins in September and continues with monthly class sessions until graduation and pinning ceremony in May. This offering convenes senior executives from the region’s leading organizations to build the critical capabilities required to lead and thrive in a world of increasing uncertainty and volatility.

The Executive Leadership Institute cohort-design program further builds and defines executive’s knowledge of technologies and trends and how to leverage them in their organizations, sharpen and expand their leadership skills and cultivate an exclusive network of peers and mentors. The program is designed around core principles and goals to drive sustained personal and organizational performance: Leadership, Strategy & Execution.

Learn more about the Executive Leadership Institute and its programs.  

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LEAD757 connects established and emerging leaders through a nine-month program to study the region’s key issues, build lifelong networks and develop innovative leadership strategies.  The program brings together seasoned leaders from across Hampton Roads providing unique avenues for cooperation, innovative problem solving and the development of lasting professional and civic relationships. Our program focuses leaders on key issues that impact Hampton Roads and its position in the state, the nation and the global economy. We support our leaders to act from a sense of well-being for the region to create a momentum for action through the extensive networking and collaboration across our region’s 17 communities.

With a network of over 1,500 graduates from the greater Hampton Roads region, representing private, public, and non-profit sectors, LEAD757 has proven to help build and strengthen regional leadership through education, partnerships and networking across traditional boundaries for the purpose of improving the quality of life in greater Hampton Roads.

Learn more about LEAD757

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Leaders Lab of Greater Charlottesville


The Leaders Lab of Greater Charlottesville is a 9-month program for current and emerging local leaders to build their leadership skills and practice collaborative community problem-solving. Program participants learn best practices in conflict resolution, multi-party negotiations, cultural competence, meeting facilitation, and many more skills they can put to work immediately in their careers and in the community.

The Leaders Lab is led by the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, and the Institute for Engagement and Negotiation at the University of Virginia.


Learn more about the Leaders Lab.

Leadership Center for Excellence


The Leadership Center for Excellence (LCE) connects, develops, and inspires leaders for personal growth, civic engagement, and community impact. It offers programs for people at every stage of the leadership journey. This includes the Leadership Arlington program for established leaders, Ignite Young Professionals program for emerging leaders, and the Summer Youth Program for rising 11th and 12th graders. Another offering of LCE is Volunteer Arlington, which connects individuals, groups, nonprofits, and businesses in an effort to promote volunteerism. LCE also conducts a number of leadership development and civic engagement events, such as the ON BOARD! training program for current aspiring board members, Regional Leadership Summit, Northern Virginia 40 Under 40, and Racial Equity Summit.

Learn more about the Leadership Center for Excellence.

Leadership Fredericksburg


Leadership Fredericksburg is the Fredericksburg Region's premier leadership program, offering participants leadership skills, networking, and personal development during the nine-month course. The Chamber is proud of its signature program which began in 2007. Alumni members populate board, top roles in business, appointed, and elected positions throughout the region. 

We seek professionals with an established connection to the Fredericksburg area who are ready to lead using guiding principles of integrity, service, and dedication. We want applicants who are committed to utilizing their leadership skills and knowledge for the long-term benefit of the community.

Learn more about Leadership Fredericksburg

Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership


Political Leaders Program: Effective leadership – through building trust and working together – is a central theme of the program. We explore how leaders have gained positions of trust and shaped public policy in Virginia. We also look at how bipartisan and regional cooperation can be used to craft approaches and solutions to problems, opportunities, and challenges faced by Virginia residents. We review techniques for finding common ground in addressing potentially divisive topics. Program participants meet in various locations across Virginia one weekend a month from March through December except for the month of July. Designed for mid-career professionals. 
Emerging Leaders Program: Effective leadership—through building trust and working together—is a central theme of the program. We explore many issues that are not inherently partisan and that instead reward bipartisan cooperation in crafting approaches to problems, opportunities, and challenges faced by Virginia residents. The Emerging Leaders Program curriculum is focused on several core subject areas: public policy development; policy advocacy skills; Virginia’s government structure; ethics in public service; and managerial skills. Designed for professionals in the first 10 years of their career. 
High School Leaders Program: The two-week program is held each summer on grounds at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Successful completion earns each student three graded college credits from UVA. The program offers concentrated study in Virginia politics and government based on a belief that young people can make a positive difference in their communities. The Virginia-focused, multidisciplinary curriculum involves substantive discussions about public policy challenges facing the Commonwealth and interaction with Virginia’s political and business leaders. Designed for 16-18 year olds. 
22nd Century Scholars Program:  An internship program offered with partners in UVA’s Karsh Institute of Democracy. Students have studied crises and opportunities faced by past Virginia governors to learn best practices, effective leadership, and how to make an impact on public policy. Most recently, they examined Virginia transportation policy and interacted with a broad cross-section of transportation leaders and officials. Designed for college students. 
Candidate Training Program: One of the few bipartisan candidate and campaign training programs in the county, participants explore the nuts and bolts of building a winning campaign from the ground up—all within the context of ethics and principled public service. The curriculum provides participants with a framework for developing their own code of conduct to run a winning and ethical campaign. Designed primarily for people who are interested in running for public office or taking on senior roles in campaigns. 


Learn more about the Sorensen Institute's leadership programs.

Virginia Rural Leadership Institute


The Virginia Rural Leadership Institute (VRLI) is a leadership program that develops and supports highly-skilled, highly-motivated leaders who are committed to revitalizing their communities across rural Virginia. VRLI addresses the need for high-quality, professional training that equips community leaders with the skills they need to lead long-term economic advancement in their rural communities. The program also seeks to increase cooperation, collaboration, and coordination
across a broad array of rural localities. Each year, VRLI will accept up to 30 applicants.

Learn more about the Virginia Rural Leadership Institute

Vote Lead Impact


Vote Lead Impact (VLI) was founded in 2006 as the Virginia Leadership Institute with the specific goal of increasing the number of Black elected officials in Virginia to 500 by 2026 through training, tracking, networking, and mentoring. VLI conducts numerous events to encourage youth and adults to pursue careers in public service. Recognizing the value of leadership development, VLI offers a scholarship for African-Americans enrolled in community leadership programs. VLI's CEO Krysta Jones is a Sorensen Political Leaders Program alumna.

Learn more about Vote Lead Impact

University of Richmond, School of Professional and Continuing Studies


Political Campaign Management Professional Certificate Program: The Political Campaign Management Professional Certificate Program focuses on ethical campaigning and producing professionals who raise the discourse of our politics. Students will gain the expertise and knowledge fundamental to campaign management, from conducting oppositions research, to building political coalitions, to creating a relevant policy platform that resonates with voters. Certificate holders will leave this intensive program with the skills needed to step into professional campaign staff roles, in any discipline.

Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy Professional Certificate: Companies, associations, and citizens are increasingly engaging in grassroots lobbying and advocacy to influence changes in legislation that support their core missions and constituency groups. Grassroots lobbying and advocacy, in contrast to direct lobbying, tends to focus on stimulating the politics of specific communities by impacting public opinion and encouraging public action. In addition to covering the history of lobbying, students will examine how the legislative process works, key tactics used by groups to promote different issues, building coalitions, relationship building and ethical concerns. Certificate holders will leave the program with the skills needed to step into grassroots lobbying or professional advocacy roles in most any field as well as the knowledge to support personal causes through grassroots lobbying or advocacy.

Learn more about the University of Richmond's School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Virginia Institute of Government, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service


Leading, Educating, and Developing (LEAD) is a dynamic and engaging one-week leadership development program designed for local government department heads and supervisors. Participants engage with peers in a highly interactive environment focused on the distinct experiences of local government leaders. During the one-week course, participants gain valuable tools for effective leadership, from developing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and interpersonal skills to honing more practical skills, such as coaching, active listening, and contextual awareness. Central to the course is ensuring that participants have a clear roadmap of how to apply course concepts to their organizations based on the most relevant and powerful leadership practices.

The Senior Executive Institute (SEI) is a dynamic and engaging two-week leadership development program designed for senior executives. Participants engage with peers in a highly interactive environment focused on the distinct experiences of local government leaders. During the two-week course, participants gain valuable tools for effective leadership, from developing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and interpersonal skills to honing more practical skills, such as coaching, active listening, and contextual awareness. Central to the course is ensuring that participants have a clear roadmap of how to apply course concepts to their organizations based on the most relevant and powerful leadership practices. The course content is similar to LEAD but will include sessions specifically for managers and assistants/deputies.

Learn more about the Virginia Institute of Government programs.