Sorensen Institute's Impact

Amanda Batten (Republican) and Monty Mason (Democrat) completed Sorensen Institute's Political Leaders Program and both are still actively involved in the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. Below they share how the program helped to shape their political lives. 

Amanda Batten Headshot

Amanda Batten

Delegate Amanda Batten is a Republican who represents the 96th District in the Virginia House of Delegates


“My takeaway from the Political Leaders Program is that regardless of where you live and your political ideology, you can always find common ground. If you seek those commonalities, you can establish a starting place from which to work and build stronger relationships.”

From her PLP experience, Delegate Batten learned a vast amount about Virginia and its diverse regions, but she also met a range of people, from stakeholders to industry leaders to interest groups.  According to Batten, “If you work in politics or are active in your community, you can learn so much from the people you meet in PLP, and you can draw upon those experiences and their knowledge to make better decisions in whatever role you find yourself.” Her advice to PLP participants is sometimes it is better to be quiet and listen rather than to be outspoken.

Monty Mason headshot

Monty Mason

Senator Monty Mason is a Democrat who represents the 1st Senate District


“Sorensen works to promote the civility of discourse, the congeniality of debate. I can disagree vehemently with someone on the Senate floor and then work closely with that person the next day. There is no reason you can’t get along with someone you disagree with.”

After researching a range of training programs, Senator Mason enrolled in Sorensen’s 2010 Candidate Training Program because he felt it offered him exactly what he needed as a new candidate. He said of Sorensen, “I wanted the professionals to give me the lay of the land.” To this day, he still uses much of what he learned in the program from setting and sticking to boundaries, to applying debate techniques that promote civility, to cultivating relationships with people of differing political perspectives through respect and patience.

The Sorensen Institute Political Leaders Program

The Political Leaders Program is designed for Virginia residents already involved in political, civic, business, nonprofit or governing life. PLP explores how leaders have gained positions of trust and shaped public policy in Virginia and how bipartisan and regional cooperation can be used to craft approaches and solutions to problems, opportunities, and challenges faced by Virginia residents.

Stories of Impact


We want to know the value that people find in working with us. We want to live up to that value and incorporate it in every project we undertake. Quite simply, we want our work to matter. On this page, we share with you, a collection of stories of how our work has made a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.