Leadership Development Programs

Expert training and coaching for optimizing leadership and strengthening organizations in local governments and among political candidates and elected officials lies at the heart of Cooper Center engagement in communities across Virginia and the nation.

Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

Training for Current & Aspiring Political Leaders

Through a variety of programs for high school and college leaders, first-time political candidates, and influential business and community leaders, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership has established itself as a powerful and effective force for restoring public confidence in our political system.


The Institute offers five distinct programs in of varying lengths, formats, and targeted to different groups.

  • The Political Leaders and Emerging Leaders Programs provide a strong foundation in ethics, public policy, and practical politics.
  • The Candidate Training Program emphasizes ethics and effective communications and helps participants build winning campaigns.
  • The College and High School Leaders Programs, both offered for credit, help students hone leadership skills needed to be effective policy makers.


Senior Executive Institute

Training for Leaders in Government

The Senior Executive Institute & LEAD programs offer intensive, interactive learning for local government officials in a supportive culture at UVA’s renowned Colgate Darden School of Business. The curriculum, designed by specifically for and by senior local government managers and the faculty at UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, takes a head-on approach to the challenges of government management and leadership.


  • The Senior Executive Institute: a two-week program tailored to the needs and concerns of the top local government executive.
  • LEAD: a one-week mid-management program is designed for department and division heads and senior staff and complements the perspectives and focus of SEI, making it possible for entire teams of leaders to prepare to design, develop, and support high performance throughout their organizations.