Former Lt. Gov. John Hager Honored by Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
The University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership dedicated its Spring Gala earlier this month to honoring former Lieutenant Governor John Hager for his services to the Institute and to the Commonwealth. The Gala, an annual fundraiser dinner held in Richmond that brought in Sorensen alumni and friends, also included a silent auction and a jazz band.
John Hager, who has worked closely with Sorensen and is the immediate past Chairman of the Sorensen Institute Statewide Advisory Board, is a pillar in the ranks of Virginia Republicans and a supporter of the party for decades who served as Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth from 1998-2002 during Governor Jim Gilmore’s administration. Throughout the years, John Hager was Director of Homeland Security for Virginia, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, and served on numerous other boards and organizations. He also served as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services from 2004-07, nominated by President George W. Bush in the years before Hager’s son, Henry, met and married the president’s daughter, Jenna, in 2008.
During the program that included remarks from notable leaders, the Lieutenant Governor was presented with an award that was inscribed with the Sorensen Institute logo and the following words:
John H. Hager
of extraordinary service to the
Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
and to the Commonwealth of Virginia
April 3, 2017
Early in the evening, Sorensen’s Executive Director Tom Walls addressed the crowd that included more than 400 of the finest leaders and leaders-to-be in Virginia, and introduced Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who welcomed the bipartisan crowd to the capital city, and spoke kindly of Hager’s works. His remarks were followed by a brief video, the first of three, with messages from those who could not attend the event but shared remembrances of working with Hager.
Throughout the program, videos were played that included messages from (in roughly this order): UVa Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato, Virginia House Speaker-elect Kirk Cox, Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen, Governor Douglas Wilder, Governor and U.S. Senator Chuck Robb, Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, U.S. President (and fellow in-law) George W. Bush (2000-08), and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (2014-18).
The video messages all spoke highly of the work of Sorensen and its mission, and praised John Hager for his service to Sorensen and the Commonwealth and many good causes. There were also kind words for John’s wife, Maggie Hager.
Mr. Walls read a written message to the crowd from Governor Gerald Baliles (1986-90) and introduced Barbara Fried (a long-time member of the Sorensen Board). Barbara introduced Governor Jim Gilmore (1998-2002) and Governor Bob McDonnell (2010-14), who both spoke about Sorensen and John Hager’s career of service.
John and Maggie Hager’s son, Henry Hager, was keynote speaker, giving a moving speech with an introduction to a video that offered a brief review of his father’s career. As the bio video concluded, John Hager was on the stage and received a long, standing ovation. At that time Ray LaMura, Sorensen’s Board Chairman (who succeeded Hager as chairman), joined Hager on stage to offer a brief speech and present the award. The Lieutenant Governor thanked everyone for being there, and for their kind remarks.
At least three of the speakers used a variation of this joke, about John Hager’s habit of showing up to lots of events: “Wherever two or more are gathered in Virginia, there is John Hager!”
The entire event had a festive feel to it with a real bipartisan, friendly crowd, all having a good time and recognizing a genuine public servant who has done much for Sorensen and Virginia.
Sorensen, through a variety of programs for high school and college leaders as well as first-time political candidates and influential business and community leaders, instills the principles of “Trust, Civility, and Respect.” Teaching ethics in public service, the power of bipartisanship, and public policy issues, their non-partisan mission is to strengthen and enhance the quality of government at all levels throughout Virginia.
Many thanks to Tom Walls who was very helpful providing details of the night’s festivities as well as photos. Thank you, also, to friends who attended the event and graciously gave permission to use their pictures and words.