Since its founding in 1993, the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute has brought together diverse individuals from a variety of backgrounds and political ideologies.  Its goal?  People working together for the common good, to strengthen and enhance the quality of government at all levels in Virginia.  The Sorensen Institute’s flagship program is the Political Leaders Program (PLP), and the PLP has become a traditional first step for future political leaders in Virginia.  This year, among the attorneys, CEOs, and business people in the PLP, are Eric Postow (L ’16) and Samantha Sedivy (L ’16), the only two students in the program.

“I learned about the PLP while I was still in the Marine Corps,” recalled Postow.  “I was a guest of Charles Robb at their yearly gala, and I learned about what they were doing and what they cared about, and it seemed really interesting.”  Sedivy came to know the program through her past experiences.  “I used to work in the General Assembly,” she explained.  “I have a lot of friends who have graduated from the different programs at the Sorensen Institute.  The college, the young leaders, the candidate training, and then the political leaders programs.  I found out about it through them.”

The PLP meets one weekend a month for ten months, and takes its participants all over Virginia.  “You’ll usually hear from a local person of influence and hear about the region, then you’ll workshop different challenges as a team,” said Postow.  “But the most important thing, aside from the team aspect, is getting to know the lifeblood of ‘area X.’ What makes Southwestern Virginia unique?  What is working, what is not, what does the future look like?  Then do the same thing in Tidewater, and in Northern Virginia, and all over.”  Sedivy also feels that the chance to go across the Commonwealth is what makes the program so valuable.  “You get to see what’s going on that is economically important, socially important, and politically important in those areas,” she explained.  “Someone in Norfolk might work in shipbuilding, and you’re probably not going to see anybody with those professional interests out in Southwest Virginia.”

Postow also feels that the structure of the PLP helps continue a heritage unique to the Commonwealth.  “They want to continue to build upon the tradition of congeniality within Virginia politics,” he said.  “The people who come through this program form lasting bonds with each other, and they continue to expand on the notion of working across the aisle once they leave.”  After a moment’s pause, he added with a smile “I think that’s pretty unique in modern politics.”

Sedivy aspires to be elected to office in the future, and feels that the PLP will help her on that road.  “When you’re in Richmond, you see a lot of people in political circles, but you see the same people,” she pointed out.  “With this program, you’re meeting people from all around the state and traveling all around the state, so it’s kind of a different perspective.”

Postow isn’t necessarily sure he wants to run for office.  Instead, he has a broader goal in mind.  “I have an interest in public service,” he said.  “Before I came to law school, I was a Marine, last summer I interned at the federal court here in Richmond, this summer I’ll be interning at the SEC in Washington, D.C..  In general, public service is a driver for me.  I can’t sit here and say that I’m going to run for public office tomorrow or something like that.  I think it’s interesting, but I think that, for me personally, building a network of people that really care about the local community is what it’s all about.”