INFLUENCE Magazine - Spring 2023

Page 30

Lenny Curry’s Last Word, Michelin in Florida & On3PR’s Anniversary + SUCCESS STORY Everglades Restoration Policies Nearing 30-Year Milestone Meet the Rising Stars of Florida Politics 2023 Diagnosis: The Top Forces in Health Care Policy

















Springing Forward

Spring is in the air, and with it the sweet smell of renewal.

Florida may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of the transition from winter to spring. There is no snow to melt and the flowers never really stop blooming.

Still, the season brings with it longer, sunnier days. This year, as with many years, that’s true both literally and figuratively.

We skipped our usual legislative preview this year because, let’s face it, it felt a little pro forma. Gov. Ron DeSantis, with his decisive re-election victory in November and overseeing supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, is going to get everything he wants.

Gone are the food fights that used to mark Legislative Session, where priorities among the Senate President, House Speaker and Governor didn’t always align, even if their parties did.

So we fast forward this year to, if we’re going to stick with the spring metaphors, Florida’s class of spring chickens, the 2023 Rising Stars.

This list is punctuated by professionals in every corner of The Process — from lobbying to regulation, from the private sector to the public sector, and everything in between. They’re government relations folks. They’re public relations pros. They’re industry wonks.

And they’re all still early in their careers, proving that Florida’s young talent is paving the way for generations of advocacy, policy and progress in the Sunshine State.

We also look to the Everglades, where renewal is ongoing. As ace environmental reporter Wes Wolfe points out, restoration in South Florida’s ecological gem represents a rare success that marries

industry needs, regulatory musts and public input, even as efforts continue. Finally, as new outlets pour into our state to unveil their various lists and rankings, we’re unveiling our own definitive list of health care influencers, compiled and analyzed by Florida Politics’ own Christine Jordan Sexton, the preeminent health care reporter in the state.

As you flip through the pages of this edition, blooming with content highlighting one of the nation’s most-watched capitols, we remind you to stay tuned for our Golden Rotundas coming in July.

For now, and until then, we hope you enjoy the read … and find time to stop and smell the flowers.

2 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023 PUBLISHER’S | NOTE @PeterSchorschFL
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PUBLISHER Peter Schorsch





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INFLUENCE Magazine is published quarterly by Florida Politics, LLC, a subsidiary of Extensive Enterprises Media, LLC. 204 37th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33704. INFLUENCE Magazine and Extensive Enterprises Media are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged, but will not be returned. INFLUENCE Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright April 2023, Extensive Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.



With an influencer audience of over 100,000 of Florida’s Top:











Your organization has the ability to use Facebook, Google, or any other digital ad network to target this exclusive audience.


Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 3

To our clients, colleagues, and friends, thank you for your trust for over 20 years. To the next 20!

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Accounting for nearly a third of the state’s annual budget and touching every Florida resident, health care is a massive undertaking. A wealth of concerns, differing priorities and limited funds mean stakeholders must compete for attention — and dollars. Meet the people who are at the top of their game when it comes to the health of Floridians.

68 INFLUENCE’S 2023 Risings Stars

Whatever their position in The Process, with brains, ambition and hard work, these millennials — and a healthy minority of Gen Z-ers — have put themselves on the fast track to success.

158 Restoring the Everglades

Thirty years after the Everglades Forever Act passed, restoring Florida’s “river of grass” can be counted as a success with cooperation between state, local and national governmental entities and other stakeholders, including farmers.

168 What I’ve Learned

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry reflects on his triumphs and challenges as the top executive of Florida’s largest city and looks toward the future — whatever that might be.

6 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023 features SPRING 2023
Photo: Matthew A. Love, President and CEO, Nicklaus Children’s Health System; Martha McGill, President, Central Florida Region, Nemours Children’s Health; Allegra Jaros, President, Wolfson Children’s Hospital; and Alicia Schulhof, President, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital






Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 7


15 Florida Attraction

After 10 years without any sort of financial support for filmmakers, productions are abandoning the Sunshine State for friendlier locales. Advocates agree: if you incentivize them, they will come.

23 Miami’s Michelin Mystery

Eight Miami restaurants are being added to the second edition of Florida’s Michelin Guide but publishers are still mum on whether they’ll be getting a star (maybe two!), a Bib Gourmand distinction or Michelin Recommended status.

36 Tech Talk

Photos from The James Madison Institute’s 2022 Technology and Innovation Summit in Miami. Closer to home, folks in The Process take a break to drink and be merry at Red Dog, Blue Dog, to raise money for Tallahassee animal rescue organizations.

64 Next-Level Association Managers

For 25 years, Partners in Association Management has taken care of the organizational work so trade groups and advocates can mind their important business.

56, 60 Tallahassee’s Queens of Public Affairs

Karen Moore and Christina Johnson started small, but both of their firms have evolved into two of Florida’s most respected communications organizations.

8 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023
On the Move Political Aficionado’s Guide 11 Briefings from the Rotunda 27 Fourth Floor Files 45 Insider Takes 50 18 11 45 158 23 36
FLORIDA’S VOICE FOR FREEDOM For more information:

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Nationally renowned political psychologist teaches candidates how to turn vices into virtues

The failings outlined in “The Candidate’s 7 Deadly Sins” won’t give you a fast track to the netherworld. But commit enough of them, and your chances of getting elected are slim to none.

Author, nationally known psychologist and political coach Dr. Peter A. Wish is, by training, a behavioral therapist who was tossed into the wild-and-wooly world of national political campaigns when St. Petersburg real estate mogul, former ambassador and Republican activist Mel Sembler recruited him into the 2012 presidential campaign of now-U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Serving as a fundraising bundler, Wish said he “went from an unknown to being on the National Presidential Finance Committee.”

“I built myself up in the campaign to where they invited me to all the retreats and presidential debates,” he continued. “But every time I offered psychological advice on how to humanize Mitt and get

him to relate better to voters, they said the same thing: ‘You raise the money and leave the driving to us.’”

Romney dutifully followed the script laid out for him by his strategists, which resulted in him coming across as wooden, aloof and unrelatable. His campaign style didn’t reflect his actual personality, Wish said.

Voters couldn’t identify with his 8x10 glossy image of studied perfection. “I came back to Florida from election night in Boston with a severe case of PCSD — post campaign stress disorder.  I observed a campaign that really committed tremendous emotional malpractice.”

Wish decided to write a book to help other candidates avoid the same emotional mistakes Romney did. He shares the Romney story in the introduction and the conclusion to his No. 1 Amazon bestseller, but the remaining chapters offer practical advice — backed by neuroscience,

social psychology, personal coaching of candidates, case studies and 3 ½ years of research candidates can use to connect emotionally to potential supporters and earn their trust and votes.

Wish’s secret sauce throughout the book boils down to one word — likeability.

Digging deep into the reptilian brain, research has discovered what motivates people to vote for one candidate over another isn’t a reasoned recitation of data and facts, but a gut-level desire for safety and security. “Facts are boring. …We feel before we think,” Wish said. To get support, it is critical to have the voter feel “the candidate likes me, the candidate understands me and I trust the candidate. Voters vote with their gut, not their brain,” Wish said.

“The Candidate’s 7 Deadly Sins” outlines vices including: pessimism, being tentative, reactive, canned, cerebral, arrogant and rigid. The very good news is,

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 11

with Wish’s pioneering coaching  techniques and practice, those bad traits can be flipped into virtues — optimism, decisiveness, deliberateness, authenticity, empathy, humility and agility.

Even if those virtues don’t come naturally to a potential candidate, Wish likens himself to a sports psychologist who can “coach” a person to perform their best. His preferred method for creating candidate relatability through emotional connection with voters is guiding the candidate to develop a personal master narrative. Storytelling then becomes the vehicle for forging the bond. “Candidates need an emotional platform,” Wish said.

While he promotes the emotional side of vote-getting, Wish isn’t oblivious to the importance of money to winning. “When you ask candidates and campaign teams what’s the most important ingredient for any campaign, they always say money,” he explained. “It’s important, but it’s not the only ingredient. Money can’t buy you love. To me, what’s also critical is the candidate and how they present themselves.” The goal: A candidate needs to leave the voter feeling “that person cares about someone like me.”

Wish’s coaching motto is “Make the connection and win your election.”

In his cover blurb, Capitol City Consulting’s Nick Iarossi said about Wish’s book: “Never have I read a book that so effectively combines real-life examples, neuroscience and human psychology to provide a useful how-to guide for establishing an emotional connection with people — regardless of political affiliation.”

Wish, who moved his family to Sarasota from Boston in 1994, has advised Republican and Democratic candidates in state, congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns. He has been quoted in national newspapers and magazines and appeared on many network television shows. He wrote “The Family Experience,” a syndicated UPI column for the Boston Globe, hosted “Psychologically Speaking” on CBS radio, and was a weekly guest consulting psychologist on “The Good Day Show” at WCVB-TV Boston.

“The Candidate’s 7 Deadly Sins: Using Emotional Optics to Turn Political Vices Into Virtues” is available via Amazon, and Barnes and Noble in hardback, softcover, Kindle or audiobook versions. For more information,  visit the book’s website at

“Make the connection and win your election.”
—Dr. Peter A. Wish
Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 13 T. 850.212.8317 E. ALIASTRATEGICGROUP.COM ALIA FARAJ-JOHNSON PRESIDENT Public Affairs Strategic Counsel Political Communications Legal Communications Crisis Communications Media Relations Results Matter.

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Flipping The Script Could Florida’s 10-year drought on film incentives be coming to a close?

Kevin and Sam Sorbo have called Florida home since 2019. The famously conservative actors arrived shortly after the election of Gov. Ron DeSantis, though Sam admits it was weather, family connections and the existing tax climate that truly attracted them.

The Sorbos have loved raising their own family in the Sunshine State, and embrace the heat and humidity with fervor. But for a pair of working actors, the state lacks a level of work to guarantee them a livelihood.

“It would be better,” Sam Sorbo said, “if there was more of an industry in the state.”

The Sorbos these days run their own production company. Kevin long ago hung up his Hercules tunics and now stars primarily in Christian films. But like many filmmakers, the two can’t make the numbers work to shoot in Florida even when they call the shots and would prefer to film the state where they live.

the Political Aficionado’s Guide to ... Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 15 FILM

“Let There Be Light,” a film directed by Kevin and written by Sam, was shot in Alabama. The production ended up there because massive activity in Georgia made it difficult to find enough crew in the Atlanta area. But no realistic consideration was ever given to the Sorbos’ adopted home state.

“When you look for places to do production, you start by seeing who has incentives and how good they are,” Sam Sorbo shared. “Some states don’t actually follow through on offered incentives. But Florida just doesn’t make the list. Weather does not make enough of an incentive. For us, we live here so we have that as an incentive, but we are typically not shooting here.”

There’s a possibility the shooting conditions could change this year.

It’s now been a full decade since Florida last authorized any type of incentives for film producers. And while almost $300 million in incentives doled out over six years attracted movie and television productions that proved enormously successful, the state in intervening years has shown no interest in renewing a film program.

In January, Rep. Dana Trabulsy, a Fort Pierce Republican, unveiled a proposal (HB 251) for a reimagined film program in Florida. The legislation would establish a Florida First Production Partnership Program, which could facilitate tax credit awards for entertainment industry products. Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, is sponsoring a Senate companion (SB 476).

Film Florida Executive Director John Lux said the program would provide a needed boost to an industry that once thrived in the state but has since lost ground to other Southern states.

“Florida is currently at a competitive disadvantage, this innovative pilot program will help put Florida small businesses on a level playing field with the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, and others in our region,” he said.

While Georgia has seen a $4 billion industry boom as Atlanta becomes a film capitol, Florida has languished.

That’s all the more frustrating in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when California lockdown restrictions drove many productions out of a state that was already losing film projects thanks to its tax environment.

Actress Jennifer Aspen, who has appeared in numerous TV movies such as “A Cozy Christmas Inn” and “You Had Me at Aloha,” moved her family to Florida during the pandemic when work evaporated. She arrived in Pinellas County and felt an initial culture shock.

“I’m embarrassed to admit it now but my first thought was everyone was going to die,” she said. “Everything was open and it was starting to be winter. But Los Angeles locked down fully with curfews, and they had gobs more COVID than Florida that winter. So I threw in the towel and joined the party.”

So she stayed here. But she hasn’t been able to find a single acting job the entire time. Rather, she’s flown to Canada and Hawaii to find work.

Similarly, actress Catherine Bell moved her family to Florida because she knew schools were open in 2020, and her child was not doing well with virtual school. A friend of Aspen after both starred in the series “Army Wives,” she came to Florida and also made it her home.

But she also can’t find work in the Sunshine State. She filmed a series of

16 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023
From left: Filmmakers Sam and Kevin Sorbo; Rep. Dana Trabulsy; and Sen. Joe Gruters.

“Good Witch” movies that required flying to Toronto.

The reality of modern filmmaking is that available incentives can cut the cost of a production by as much as a third, she said. Bell recalled having to speak to South Carolina lawmakers who were considering yanking the incentives there while “Army Wives” was still shooting. She was told the series would unquestionably have to relocate if state support vanished.

“I went and spoke to these guys and talked about what you don’t always see,” she said. “I had moved to South Carolina and had my son in private school there. But we also had all these Charleston people on our crew. But we also had all of our furniture, wardrobe and food from there, and that’s a lot for just one TV show.”

Within the Legislature, there’s been a quiet fear for years that incentivizing film might just attract liberal Hollywood with it to the conservative state. But for the actors already moving here, that’s laughable. Bell considers herself slightly

conservative in her views. Kevin Sorbo has developed a reputation online as a conservative social media voice, and Sam Sorbo is active in promoting home schools and educational choice.

Sam Sorbo scoffs at assertions that Georgia shifted blue when Hollywood shot more films there. “It’s facetious to blame Hollywood for the blue-ing of Georgia,” she said. “Georgia has a problem in its Legislature. How has Hollywood influenced that?”

She suggested more conservative filmmakers might actually flock to Florida, especially since DeSantis has developed such a national profile promoting conservative policies.

As for Aspen, she said her time spent working in red states has actually changed her outlook on politics.

“I was liberal Hollywood,” she said. “I traveled for work to Tennessee and Georgia, and honestly, it was that travel into places that opened my mind to what essentially a red state is. I got more understanding for that, and more respect for that.”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 17 Adams Street Advocates is a boutique government relations rm that specializes in successfully helping businesses do business with government. AT THE INTERSECTION OF BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT

the Political Aficionado’s Guide to ... Zoom GEAR

at the beach in style

With summer fast approaching in a state where beach days are the norm, what better time to start planning out the season’s swag?

And in a post-COVID-19 world that has learned remote work can be just as productive as a day in the office, why not make that swag help you turn a case of the Mondays into a case of the beachside-office days?

We’ve scoured tech mags, outdoor blogs and other write-ups about summer essentials to bring you some must-consider gear, so while the kids are on break, you can still hang.

Outdoor Master Beach Cabana:

$119.99 at Outdoor Master Beach cabanas might be a dime a dozen, and if you’re living it up at a resort, one probably comes with the price of admission. But this one is top-rated for its easy setup and ability to weather a stiff wind. It offers full UV400 protection, installs easily with sand pouches for added stability, and has a detachable shade that can double as a beach blanket.

Ostrich 3-in-1 beach chair/lounger:

Another top-ranked beach must-have, this chair boasts five adjustable positions and three adjustable footrest positions, so you can be comfortable whether soaking up the sun or taking an oceanside Zoom. It also has an extra wide wooden armrest and cup holder to keep the beverage nearby, whether it’s 5 o’clock there or somewhere else.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2: $105 on Amazon

It’s waterproof, dustproof and it floats. What better gadget to bring to the beach than this wireless bluetooth speaker with 360-degree sound and amped up bass?

18 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023

iCap Pro: Available starting at $99 on iCap

Few things are worse than the perpetual glare of an electronic screen when sitting in the sun, which even the snazziest of sunglasses fail to remedy. That’s where iCap comes in, with a tent for your device that lets you browse without the glare. Sizes are available to fit anything from small tablets to large laptops.

RockPals 300W Power Station:

All of these gadgets eventually run out of juice, but not with the power of the sun. The RockPals Solar Generator 300 has several outlets that can power or charge anything, from a laptop and cell phone to a cooler or drone.

Rapha Backpack 30L: $180 at REI

This weatherproof rucksack is big enough to carry all your essentials, including a safe space for your laptop. And it’s waterproof, so it’ll survive beachside or poolside with ease.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II:

Tired of listening to whatever crappy music the teenagers next to you are blaring? Pop in earbuds that have been rated by several tech blogs as having the best noise cancellation on the market — also a great feature for when

G4 Pro Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot: $169.99 at GloCalMe

It would be pretty hard to turn a workday into a beach day without access to the internet. This 5-inch touch-screen hotspot comes with a 1GB global data plan, with options to add more, and various options for monthly data packages to stay connected.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 19

Thank you to our Legislative Champions

Thanks to your visionary leadership, your 2022 legislative funding will help Promise Fund double its patient navigation network that will increase impact from 18,000 to 36,000 women within the community this year. Therefore, twice as many uninsured and underinsured women will be able to access critical breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment. You, our legislative champions, helped us build this, and your valuable support means we can improve health outcomes and survival rates from late-stage breast and cervical cancer throughout South Florida.

20 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023 | (877) 427-7664
2022 Florida General Election UNDEFE ATED. UNDEFE ATED. Watch the Reel: 30 30 0 losses races Wins Ryan Houck Influence Magazine’s Most Influential in Florida Politics 2020, 2022
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At AT&T, we’re dedicated to doing our part to connect America. That’s why we’re investing in and expanding the reach of our fiber-based internet service while also working to provide more affordable and accessible internet services to help close this country’s digital divide.

In Florida, we have invested more than $3.1 billion in the last 3-years and pushed AT&T Fiber to 1.8 million homes & small businesses. Keeping communities connected. At AT&T, it's how we do business.

© 2022 AT&T Intellectual Property. AT&T and Globe logo are registered trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

22 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023


The spotlight on Miami’s dining scene just became a little brighter. While not yet divulging the stars, the MICHELIN Guide is spotlighting eight new additions deemed worthy of recognition in Miami. In announcing the new entries, the website stated that “MICHELIN Guide inspectors spend all year on the road uncovering the best restaurants to recommend — and what they’ve found is too good to keep a secret. Whet your appetite with a sneak peek of the 2023 MICHELIN Guide Florida — eight new additions spread across Miami.”

The new Miami additions to the MICHELIN Guide are:

Brasserie Laurel:

The Guide calls chef Michael Beltran’s cuisine “a tight menu of French classics.” Located in the Miami World Center.

Fiola Miami:

Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s posh restaurant in Coral Gables features a modern take on traditional Italian; it has a Michelin-starred sibling in Washington.

Lido Restaurant at the Surf Club:

The oceanfront restaurant in Surfside serves coastal Italian cuisine paired with a great view. Its neighbor, The Surf Club Restaurant from renowned chef Thomas Keller, received a Michelin star in 2022.

Lion & the Rambler:

Chef/owner Michael Bolen presents a contemporary selection of American fare (with house-made bread) at this Coral Gables spot.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 23


The husband-and-wife team of chef Akino and Jamila West have created this outdoor space with a Southern-inspired menu.

Tambourine Room by Tristan Brandt:

Located inside the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, the chef presents a modern-classic French tasting menu with Asian influences.

The Gibson Room:

Chef/restaurateur Michael Beltran, a Michelin star winner for his Coconut Grove restaurant, Ariete, has opened this dining and drinking establishment in Shenandoah.

Walrus Rodeo:

The team behind Boia De in Buena Vista have turned their attention to this vegetable-driven menu in the same plaza.

When the inaugural Florida Guide was announced in June 2022, its awards were focused on Miami, Orlando and Tampa. The guide honored 65 Miami restaurants. One destination, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, earned two stars. Ten others received one star, 19 received Bib Gourmand distinction and 35 were awarded Michelin Recommended status. The Bib awards promote restaurants that offer “good quality and good value” and are judged by the same criteria used for star designation,

according to VISIT FLORIDA.

Thirty-four Orlando restaurants were honored in the 2022 MICHELIN Guide for Florida. Four restaurants received one star, seven received Bib Gourmand distinction and 23 were awarded Michelin Recommended status.

Nineteen Tampa restaurants were honored in the guide. Three restaurants received Bib Gourmand distinction and 16 were awarded Michelin Recommended status.

24 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023


One year after a historic legislative session, Governor DeSantis, President Passidomo, and Speaker Renner kept their foot on the accelerator to keep Florida safe.

Jeff Brandes launches Florida Policy Project

Former Sen. Jeff Brandes, an entrepreneur and businessman, is launching a nonpartisan research institute.

The Florida Policy Project (FPP) will focus on areas related to criminal justice reform, property insurance, transportation and housing, issues Brandes heavily championed during his 12 years as a state Senator from 2010 to 2022.

The goal is to collaborate with state and nationally recognized research experts to conduct, compile and complete analysis on best practices that produce the best outcomes for Floridians.

Former Senate President Bill Galvano is chairing the FPP board.

“Mr. Brandes built his reputation as a visionary community leader by advocating for forward-thinking criminal justice, housing affordability, transportation and property insurance reforms in the Florida Legislature,” Galvano said.

FPP aims to become a destination for data-driven research, gathered through networking with relevant subject matter experts and industry leaders. The organization will capture existing public policy and best practices, leverage leading technology to educate, and engage elected officials.

“Having served in the Florida Legislature for the past 12 years, I know firsthand the need for intelligent data-driven research that will educate both the general public and our elected officials as we seek to improve policy outcomes and to implement best practices,” Brandes said.

“As Florida continues its unprecedented growth, FPP strives to offer resources that will help our elected officials make informed and strategic decisions in policymaking, ensuring the prosperity of the current and future residents of Florida.”

Also serving on the FPP board are Florida Transportation Builders’ Association President Ananth Prasad; WSP Senior Vice President Alice Bravo; property insurance professional John Rollins; Caitlin Murray, the Southeast regional vice president for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies; and Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the free market-driven Reason Foundation.

The group expects to have a report on affordable housing ready to release at the end of April.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 27 BFR
Briefings from the Rotunda

Gray Robinson adds a dynamic trio

Law and lobbying firm GrayRobinson wrapped up 2022 with a pair of major hires in key practice areas, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down in 2023.

The latest wave of GrayRobinson hires started in October with the addition of Candace Brascomb as Of Counsel in the firm’s Government Affairs and Lobbying and Litigation Sections.

A veteran litigator, Brascomb’s résumé includes more than a decade of government experience, including as a prosecutor for the Florida Department of Health, where she managed a team of lawyers working closely with the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

She has also worked as an analyst for the House, where she built invaluable relationships with Representatives, Senators and high-level staffers while advising on judicial legislation and legislative programs.

Based in the Orlando office, the Stetson law grad will assist clients on health care, labor and employment, and defamation matters.

A month after Brascomb came aboard, GrayRobinson added former Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Chief of Staff Thomas Philpot to its National Alcohol Beverage Practice as a shareholder.

Philpot held the Chief of Staff post at DBPR for nearly all of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first term. During that time, he led regulatory policy initiatives and day-to-day operations at the agency in the licensing and regulation of more than 1.4 million businesses and professionals across more than 30 occupational fields.

Philpot, who earned his law degree from Florida State University, also served four years as the director of DBPR’s Division of Alcoholic Beverag-

28 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023 BFR P u b l i c R e l a t i o n s S t r a t e g i c C o m m u n i c a t i o n s C r i s i s M a n a g e m e n t President E D I E O U S L E Y w w w Y e l l o w F i n c h S t r a t e g i e s c o m
Candace Brascomb Thomas Philpot John Truitt

BFR Briefings from the Rotunda

es and Tobacco. His tenure coincided with the expansion of retail premises options for breweries, on-site sales privileges for craft distilleries, and the introduction of new license types, among many other things.

At GrayRobinson, he is using his understanding of complex regulatory matters to help firm clients identify pathways for regulatory compliance, pursue policy changes, and establish connections with public officials.

GrayRobinson’s expansion continued into the new year with the addition of John Truitt, who has joined the firm’s Environmental and Sustainability Law Team as a shareholder in the Tallahassee office.

The Florida State University law school grad and U.S. Army veteran comes to GrayRobinson from the Department of Environmental Protection, where he served as the Deputy Secretary of Regulatory Programs.

Truitt brings deep experience in environmental regulatory law and disaster management. He coordinated emergency response efforts related to Hurricanes Irma, Michael, Ian, and Nicole, as well as the Piney Point wastewater disaster and was also the point man for Florida’s assumption of the Section 404 Program of the Clean Water Act.

He’ll put his expertise to use assisting GrayRobinson clients navigating environmental regulatory challenges and compliance demands.

“We are thrilled that Candace Brascomb, Thomas Philpot, and John Truitt have made the move to GrayRobinson, further enhancing our multidimensional teams within the government affairs, regulated products, environmental sustainability, and litigation spaces,” said GrayRobinson President and CEO Dean Cannon. “Each of them is highly regarded in their respective areas and they bring insightful perspectives from their time working in Florida government to our clients.”

At the state level, GrayRobinson consistently ranks as one of the Top 5 lobbying firms in the state, representing more than 200 lobbying clients spanning well-known Fortune 500 companies to small municipal governments.

Caroline Korba lands VP spot


Korba, a political communications professional, will serve as Vice President in Mercury’s Florida office.

Korba most recently served as the Communications Director for Jen Jordan’s Attorney General race in Georgia and as Press Secretary for former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s gubernatorial bid. She previously worked as a senior development coordinator for the International Women’s Media Foundation, a press freedom organization in Washington, D.C.

“We are thrilled to welcome Caroline to the Mercury team,” Mercury Partner Ashley Walker said. “Caroline’s experience leading communications efforts on political campaigns and her background in the corporate and nonprofit sectors will prove to be a major asset for our clients.”

Korba is originally from New Jersey. She earned her undergraduate degree in Hispanic studies from Montana State University and a master’s in International Administration from the University of Miami.

“I am very excited to make this transition and join the team of experts at Mercury,” Korba said. “I look forward to providing successful outcomes for our clients and amplifying their message.”

Mercury is a bipartisan public strategy firm providing a comprehensive suite of services, including federal government relations, international affairs, digital influence, public opinion research, media strategy and grassroots mobilization in all 50 states. The firm has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, Texas and South Carolina.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 29

Towson Fraser lead Tucker/Hall Tallahassee office

Towson Fraser is joining Tucker/Hall as Vice Presi dent in charge of the firm’s Tallahassee office.

“We are excited to be adding someone with Towson’s deep political and communications ex perience to our team,” said Tucker/Hall COO ren Richards. “With Towson leading our efforts in Tallahassee, we look forward to continuing to pro vide thoughtful, strategic solutions to our clients’ most difficult challenges.”

Fraser, a Tallahassee native and University of Florida alum, brings more than 20 years of political and government experience to Tucker/Hall.

He previously served as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Affairs Director under former Gov. Charlie Crist and as the Communications Di rector for both former House Speaker and the Republican Party of Florida, as well as the Department of Management Services and the Department of Community Affairs. Fraser also worked in the House Majority Office under for mer Speakers John Thrasher

After leaving the public sector, Fraser launched the Tallahassee-based lobbying and communications consulting firm Fraser Solutions. At his firm, Fraser has worked on communications efforts for multiple high-profile clients, including  Freedom for All Americans, which tapped him to drum up congressional support for the Equality Act.

In his new role, Fraser will no longer lobby, but will instead provide commu nications strategies and solutions to a variety of clients across multiple sec tors, including utilities, health care, technology, immigration, infrastruc ture, human rights and economic de velopment.

“After working with Tucker/Hall for the last few years, I am thrilled to join the team full time,” Fraser said. “I look forward to putting all my fo cus on the strategic communications needs of clients and help our firm expand our work in Tallahassee.”

Tucker/Hall is a strategic com munications company with offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahas see and Tampa.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 31 Producing Lasting Success Stories. Waypoint Strategies is a full-service governmental relations consulting firm that offers personalized, expert lobbying solutions with a 40+ year track record of success. Your needs will always be represented by us personally. | 850.222.0191 Brian Jogerst, | Greg Black,
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Michelle Oyola McGovern is going digital

The longtime communications and government affairs professional recently joined the ranks at Comcast as Vice President of Government Affairs for the Florida Region.

McGovern comes to the telecom giant from Baptist Health South Florida, where she spent the past four years working as the health system’s Corporate Director of Government and Community Relations.

McGovern has also worked for the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Department of State, but those in The Process know her best for her 18 years of service under former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, ending with a five-year run as State Director.

Briefings from the Rotunda

“As one of the world’s largest media and technology companies, Comcast is responsible for products and services like high-speed internet that are becoming an increasingly important part of our daily lives. It is also a major employer and significant contributor to the economy in communities across Florida,” McGovern said.

“In my new role, I am looking forward to utilizing my years of experience in the public sector as well as my passion for our communities to support Comcast’s business objectives and its place as a trusted community partner.”

The new gig will see McGovern head up the regional government affairs team responsible for handling Comcast’s affairs in Florida as well as pockets of southern Georgia and southeastern Alabama.

That will include taking a lead position on Comcast’s efforts to bridge the digital divide by expanding its high-speed internet service into unconnected and underconnected areas, including some projects that fall under the state’s Broadband Opportunity Program. Comcast was recently

awarded grants to bring its Xfinity 10G network to unserved areas of the state.

The Florida Atlantic University graduate will also play a role in Comcast’s digital inclusion and equity programs, such as Internet Essentials, as well as boosting Floridians’ awareness of the federal Affordability Connectivity Program, which provides qualified households with a monthly bill credit to pay for internet service.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 33 BFR
FLORIDA TRUCKING ALWAYS DELIVERS Visit to learn more. Tallahassee I Miami I Fort Lauderdale I Tampa I Harrisburg I Washington, D.C. 15 Offices Nationwide I


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JMI Tech Summit

InSeptember, The James Madison Institute gathered some of the top thinkers and doers in technology policy to talk Florida and the future at the 2022 Technology and Innovation Summit in Miami. During the two-day summit, participants considered how the state should approach cryptocurrency, online platforms, artificial intelligence, telecommunications, broadband infrastructure, smart transportation, and so much more. A kickoff address from Mayor Francis Suarez set the tone for the event. Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai spoke about the future of 5G and innovation. Rep. Randy Fine addressed the China tech threat. Erika Donalds spoke about “Matriculation in the Metaverse” and the bridge between technology and education. Many more discussions were had on health care, intellectual property, Florida’s innovation economy, broadband deployment, and other issues. Attendees heard from Tom Fabricio on the future of tech policy in Florida along with the COO and cofounder of Hydra Host, Garrett Johnson, on disruptive agents of innovation. As the formal presentations and networking made clear, innovation is a choice. For the leaders who assembled at the Summit, Florida will continue to embrace innovation in both spirit and policy.

36 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023
PHOTOS: The Workmans
1 2 3 4 5 6
Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 37 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1. Garrett Johnson of The Lincoln Network speaks about disruptive agents of innovation. 2. JMI Board Member Harout Samra and CEO Dr. Bob McClure with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at JMI’s 2022 Tech Summit. 3. Suarez demos Optima Ed’s interactive curriculum. 4. Optima Ed founder and CEO Erika Donalds speaks on “Matriculation in the Metaverse” 5. Samantha Sexton Greer introduces members from the University of Florida academic community. 6. Dr. Jackson Streeter and Dr. Read Hayes of University of Florida and TJ Villamil of Enterprise Florida on a panel about “Fueling Florida’s Innovation Economy” 7. JMI’s Logan Padgett moderates a panel with Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai 8. JMI’s Sal Nuzzo moderating a panel with Optima's Donalds. 9. Ron Shultis from the Beacon Center of Tennessee during the 2022 Tech Summit Q&A. 10. Will Thibeau from The Heritage Foundation interviews Rep. Tom Fabricio 11. McClure welcomes attendees to the 2022 Tech Summit. 12. Dr. Roslyn Layton, Georgia Rep. Martin Momtahan, and Florida Rep. Randy Fine discussing “The China Tech Threat.” 13. Dr. Albert Manero of Limbitless Solutions speaking about the intersection of health care innovation and intellectual property. 14. JMI staffers Logan Padgett, Karen Hickey and Susan Hildebrand welcome guests to the 2022 Tech Summit.
38 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023 1 2 3

Red Dog Blue Dog

Celebrity bartending, Tallahassee style! The 8th Annual Red Dog Blue Dog Celebrity Bartending Benefit brought the crowds out on March 21st at Township. This year's lineup included Sen. Alexis Calatayud and Reps. Demi Busatta Cabrera, Tom Leek and Jim Mooney for Team Red. Sens. Tracie Davis and Jason Pizzo and Reps. Kristen Arrington and Dan Daley repped Team Blue. The $50,000 raised was equally split by the Humane Society, Last Hope and Tallahassee’s Animal Shelter Foundation.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 39
5 4
1. First Lady Casey DeSantis places her order. 2. Rep. Thomas Leek pours a glass a wine for Team Red. 3. Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Kristen Arrington take pre-event selfies. 4. It was a packed house at Township for the popular fundraising event..

Red Dog Blue Dog (cont.)

40 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023
6 7 8 9
Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 41 10
5. Rep. Arrington serves up libations for Team Blue. 6. Rep. Busatta-Cabrera taking orders for Team Red. 7. Kate MacFall of the The Humane Society of the United States and Leon County Humane Society Board Member Sandi Poreda sell T-shirts as guests enter Township. 8. Rep. Demi Busatta-Cabrera takes orders for Team Red. 9. Sen. Alexis Calatayud taking orders for Team Red. 10. The Red Dog Blue Dog crowd had an incredible time!
Tallahassee, LLC LIB ER TY PA RT N ERS @LibertyPartners @LibertyPartnersTLH (850) 841-1726 |
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Thanks to our incredible clients, we have reached a milestone in the firm’s history.

We now represent 500 clients collectively among our offices in Florida, DC, Boston, and Tel Aviv!

We are grateful to our clients for their confidence and trust in the Ballard Partners team.

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Shepherding Amazon through The Process

Significant other? Children? Grandkids? I have a pretty dope 22-year-old daughter,  Nia Symone, and am in a relationship with someone who has children (and a couple adorable grandkids). Between us we have a pretty amazing little tribe.

In 25 words or less, explain what you I’m a connector. I make friends, influence people and work hard every day to advocate for businessfriendly policies that benefit our customers and associates.

Without using the words Democrat, independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I am and will always be people over politics. I believe in doing what is right, and respecting all people. I am an immigrant, minority, and was raised in a single-parent household. I was taught to work hard, put God first and never forget how blessed I am to be raised in this country.

If you have one, what is your To whom much is given,

During your career, have you had a favorite Dibia Dream Foundation! Watching the organization grow from the very beginning, and seeing the way they innovate and make STEM learning fun for children makes my heart happy.

Three favorite charities? St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital is one. I was a founding member of the Friends of St. Jude’s in Miami, and have seen firsthand the work they are doing to ease the burden on families faced with children who are fighting for their lives against rare childhood cancers. The Miami Rescue Mission is another. Homeless issues are near and dear to my heart. Overtown Youth Center (OYC) would be my third. OYC provides wraparound services to atrisk youth from kindergarten through age 25 while promoting lifelong learning and strengthening family wellness.

Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Definitely the Crack Mac and Cheese and a glass of red wine from Cluster and Hops.

What are you most looking forward to during the 2023 Legislative Session? Working alongside my brilliant colleagues in the Process, and state lawmakers to advocate for policies that better the lives of all Floridians. Also, FAMU Day at the Capitol is a personal fave.

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … I’m in-house, so this wouldn’t apply to me. I also happen to work for the best employer on earth!

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Helping launch Florida’s statewide Black History and Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contests during Gov. Jeb Bush’s Administration.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? I don’t. I prefer sneakers or a Chanel pump.

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Brendan Farrington. He’s been around for a while, is down to earth and an absolute pro!

Other than, your reading list includes … I’m currently reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, and “The Alchemist” for like the 20th time. I’m also an old school, newspaperin-hand kind of girl and I love The Wall Street Journal.

What swear word do you use most often? The F-bomb is a staple.

What is your most treasured possession? A first edition copy of “Up from Slavery” by Booker T. Washington that my mom found at a random estate sale.

The best hotel in Florida is … It may sound basic, but The Breakers for me … full stop!

You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Jeb Bush, Danny Perez, Shevrin Jones and Stephanie Smith.

Favorite movie? I’d say “The Quiet Man” (John Wayne/Maureen  O’Hara), the entire Harry Potter Series and “The Sound of Music.”

When you pig out, what do you eat? ALL the Jamaican foods…curry chicken, oxtail, escovitch, jerk chicken.

If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Bob Marley.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 45

Significant other? Children? Grandkids? Spouse: France Green Jr. Children, 3: Jay Malone (married to Lindsay), Tre Green and Jhaz Green Grandson: Asher Jay

In 25 words or less, explain what you do. I am a consultant that specializes in Utility, Workforce and Economic Development, Education and Athletics.

Without using the words Democrat, independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I prioritize Christian principles and aim to promote integrity and moral and ethical standards in government and society while emphasizing the value of serving others.

If you have one, what is your motto? “Never give up!”

During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? Being on nonprofit boards is my offering of pro bono services, which has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience in my career as a professional.

Three favorite charities? American Cancer Society, Girls on the Run Panhandle, Habitat for Humanities.

Any last-day-of-Session traditions? I prefer to reflect on achievements, evaluate obstacles and spend quality time with my family.

What are you most looking forward to during the 2023 Legislative Session? I am excited about the 2023 Legislative Session as an opportunity to advocate for clients and continue learning the legislative process.

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … Currently, I am working with a top firm with an excellent clientele that perfectly allows me to work on diverse topics.

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Winning an Olympic gold medal, my academic accomplishments, and using my experience to work with and mentor young students and athletes while prioritizing my role as a mother.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? Instead of owning a pair of Gucci loafers, I choose to use my resources for my grandson and to donate to nonprofits.

Sprinting through Session with Capital City Consulting

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? preferred reporter from the Florida Capitol Press Corps. However, I appreciate Peter Schorsch precise and punctual reporting, consistently delivering up-to-theminute news and reliable facts.

Other than, your reading list includes … publications on utilities, housing, and workforce development to stay up-to-date and better serve my clients.

What swear word do you use most often? I have used various alternative communication methods since I am a new lobbyist and have not felt the need to resort to profanity.

What is your most treasured possession? My family, which brings joy and meaning to my life that any material object cannot replace.

The best hotel in Florida is … prioritize hotels in Florida that cater to my workload and needs. Comfort, convenience, on-site dining, and comfortable bedding are essential for me.

You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? invite Nick Iarossi and (as a team), Paul Renner Passidomo and Fentrice Driskell my initial guests to provide a broad range of perspectives and valuable insights to the conversation.

Favorite movie? “A Few Good Men.”

When you pig out, what do you eat? Savory seafood, rich chocolate cake and delicious chocolate chip cookies.

If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Thurgood Marshall former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maicel Green
48 | INFLUENCE Spring 2023
Tallahassee Copyright © 2022 Holland & Knight LLP All Rights Reserved For 50 years, lawyers and policy advisors in Holland & Knight’s Tallahassee office have guided clients through complex government regulations and procedures. Our highly experienced state team counsels clients on ever-changing developments at every level of government. Check out our new “Florida Capital Conversations” podcast, hosted by Partners Nathan Adams and Mia McKown, exploring regulatory and legal issues in the state and how they affect companies doing business in Florida. @HK_FLgov Shannon Hartsfield, Executive Partner Tallahassee, FL | 850.224.7000 Government Representation | Strategic Business Consulting | Legal Counsel
Holland & Knight
50 Years in

Significant other? Children? Grandkids? Very significant, Mary Clare

In 25 words or less, explain what you do. We are results-obsessed problem solvers that use everything in our repertoire to assist clients at the intersection of legislation and real-life problems.

Without using the words Democrat, independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. Somewhere between Ron DeSantis, Jeb Bush Jeff Brandes

If you have one, what is your motto? “The future starts today, not tomorrow.” — Pope John Paul II

During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? Does walking for candidates count? If so, the new freshman class.

Three favorite charities? Wounded Warrior Project, 4Kids Foster Care and

Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Getting the hell out of town.

What are you most looking forward to during the 2023 Legislative Session?

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … Bill Rubin. He has built out an incredible Rolodex through his years in the process. A true OG.

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Playing a very small role in the DeSantis administration before joining Rubin Turnbull.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? I feel like this question alone has killed the Gucci loafer game in Tallahassee, so no, I do not wear them.

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? They have a tough job. I have twitter alerts on for Gary Fineout, Matt Dixon and Peter Schorsch.

Other than Florida, your reading list includes … Love a good Twitter thread, I also constantly find myself in Wikipedia holes throughout the night.

What swear word do you use most often? D) All the above.

What is your most treasured possession? My time.

The best hotel in Florida is … The Pearl in the North and The Breakers in the South.

You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Heather Turnbull, Jamie Grant, Andrea Gainey and Tony the shoeshine guy. Hopefully, Heather, Andrea and Tony can get a word in.

Favorite movie? Big Harry Potter guy.

When you pig out, what do you eat? Dairy Queen Butterfinger Blizzard.

If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Potluck Style: George Washington, Alexander the Great, Jorge Mas Canosa, Teddy Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge.

Ready to git ‘er done in Session 2023 and beyond.
Zach Hubbard

Bank failures and cryptocurrencies

With the recent spate of bank failures there has been a lot of speculation about how such a thing could happen in a modern economy.

Whether it was their borrowing or lending patterns, economic flux, overreliance on bonds or investing in highrisk high-tech startups, there is one common element in each of these failures — reckless investments in cryptocurrency.

How could this have happened?

Let’s start with the basics. A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, like actual money, that exists only in the digital world. At some level this should not be a problem as so much of our modern monetary system happens in the abstract online digital world. For most readers, paying things like utility bills or even for groceries with actual dollar bills is a thing of the past.

So, in that regard, a fully digital currency seems sensible and, to some degree, inevitable.

But where cryptocurrency is different is that it is largely a pure free-market, loosely unregulated invention and does not rely on, nor is it backed, by the good faith and credit of any government. For libertarians, this is the utopia you had wished for. For those watching their life savings or business investments evaporate, this is the dystopia you feared.

But here’s the rub. Many of these crypto exchanges promoted themselves as fail-safe investments with implying they were indeed backed by governments or insurers when, in truth, they were not. This is where those of us who support free-market economics recog-

nize the failure, and that failure is, simply put, disinformation run amok.

We now have learned many banks relied on and/or had invested heavily in these cryptocurrencies, and while few are saying that is the sole reason they failed, the recent collapse of the crypto market surely didn’t help. Additionally, one could make the case that in the wake of the spectacular failure of FTX (a cryptocurrency exchange and hedge fund) in November and the resulting industrywide collapse that followed most certainly served as a catalyst for the runs on these banks.

And what about those investors who lost tens of thousands in crytpo exchanges but weren’t so lucky to have their dollars backed by the federal government?

For them, their only recourse is a private cause of action against these exchanges. Further, I for one would conclude that we don’t need further government regulations or new laws or bureaucracies to restrict innovation. The laws we have on the books are adequate. We need to let them work and we need to hold those wrongdoers accountable in a court of law.

My advice to those who were deceived is to seek out legal counsel, explore your options and take action to hold these wrongdoers accountable and hopefully you can at least recover some of your lost savings.

Tom Grady is a former State Representative, Florida’s chief banking regulator and the founder of

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 51 {insider TAKES}
How digital currency contributed to banking collapse
“...paying things like utility bills or even for groceries with actual dollar bills is a thing of the past.”

Trucking for tort reform

“Three yards and a cloud of dust, Miller.”

A highly esteemed colleague in Washington said that to me a few months ago when I was tired after spending most of my time on the road. It’s an expression dating back to the 1950s, when football was physical and players methodically pushed themselves down the field, rather than the popular NFL style that favors quarterbacks and high-flying passes, leaving more to chance.

Woody Hayes referenced the phrase in 1959: “Some newspapermen call our attack ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’ But we don’t care what the offense is called as long as it wins football games. I’m willing to take three and onethird yards on every play and force the other guy to make mistakes.”

In 2021, 100 trucking executives gathered together in the Omni Jacksonville — the only cars in the parking lot of an empty hotel and a quiet downtown.

The Florida trucking leaders in the room that day were frustrated. They were heroes across the country for never missing a day of work during the pandemic. Their drivers, mechanics, dock loaders and support staff never missed a beat — delivering food, medicine and fuel every single day. They kept the country and the economy running as the world had shut down.

The trucking profession had never been praised so highly.

But these trucking leaders didn’t show up in Jacksonville that day to pat themselves on the back. They showed up because while the world was showering them with praise, billboard trial lawyers were putting them out of business.

Ninety-seven percent of trucking companies are small,

with fewer than 20 trucks. These companies couldn’t survive many more months of the onslaught.

I established a Tort Reform Task Force with a nimble group of 10 executives and our lobbyist of 18 years, Chris Dudley of The Southern Group, as we pledged our time and resources to craft a strategy and combat lawsuit abuse.

The Task Force met weekly, and scheduled a hundred different educational and strategy sessions with trucking companies, insurance experts and defense lawyers. We reviewed dozens of cases and learned where the abuse was happening; where the judicial roadblocks were located; what was working in other states; and solutions specific to Florida.

We met with the incoming leadership in the Legislature, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner. I crisscrossed the state for speaking engagements, conferences and meetings with legislators to tell our story.

We worked closely with Gov. Ron DeSantis and his team to craft a proposal that would be historic and comprehensive.

After all the time and effort of the prior two years, the industry was prepared for a battle that ultimately proved to be both vicious and quick.

By week three of the 2023 Regular Session, the Legislature had passed, and the Governor had signed, HB 837, the most comprehensive tort reform package in the history of Florida, with the Florida Trucking Association honored to stand by his side.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 53 {insider TAKES}
Alix Miller is the president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association, the sole state liaison between the legislative, regulatory and judicial branches of state and federal government.
The trucking profession had never been praised so highly.
The industry fought back, and won


to Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, Florida House of Representatives Speaker Paul Renner, and newly elected members to the Florida House and Senate. Wishing you a wonderful 2023 Legislative Session!

Newly Elected Members to the Florida House of Representatives

Representative Joel Rudman

Representative Shane Abbott

Representative Philip Griffitts

Representative Gallop Franklin

Representative Dean Black

Representative Kiyan Michael

Representative Jessica Baker

Representative Taylor Yarkosky

Representative Chase Tramont

Representative Robert Brackett

Representative Rachel Plakon

Representative Susan Plasencia

Representative Doug Bankson

Representative LaVon Bracy Davis

Representative Johanna López

Representative Jennifer Harris

Representative Carolina Amesty

Representative Paula Stark

Representative Jennifer Canady

Representative John Temple

Representative Jeff Holcomb

Representative Kevin Steele

Representative Brad Yeager

Representative Adam Anderson

Representative Kimberly Berfield

Representative Berny Jacques

Representative Lindsay Cross

Representative Karen Gonzalez Pittman

Representative Danny Alvarez

Representative Tiffany Esposito

Representative Peggy Gossett Seidman

Representative Katherine Waldron

Representative Lisa Dunkley

Representative Hillary Cassel

Representative Fabián Basabe

Representative Ashley Gantt

Speaker of the

Representative Vicki Lopez

Representative Alina Garcia

Representative Juan Carlos Porras

Newly Elected Members to the Florida Senate

Senator Jay Trumbull

Senator Corey Simon

Senator Clay Yarborough

Senator Tracie Davis

Senator Blaise Ingoglia

Senator Colleen Burton

Senator Jay Collins

Senator Nick DiCeglie

Senator Jonathan Martin

Senator Bryan Avila

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 55
Florida Senate President KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO Florida House of Representatives PAUL RENNER
The James Madison Institute’s 2023 Sunshine State Policy Priorities JAMESMADISON.ORG


Influence sits down with Karen Moore, Florida’s grand dame of public affairs, after 30 years in business


BE HONEST: Hard roads and easy streets. Be open and honest with your team about where you are and where you’re going.

SHARE SUCCESS: Don’t just share the good news. Share the rewards of a good year with the people who helped make it happen.

GIVE BACK: Be a mentor. Be a community steward. You didn’t get where you are without a little help along the way, so find ways to help others in their journeys.

FAIL FORWARD: Failure is inevitable so see it as a beginning, not an end. Failure is the realization that one way isn’t the only way.

SWIM UPSTREAM: Anyone can go with the current. You can’t be just anyone if you want to be No. 1 — it takes grind, guts and grit.

When Karen Moore decided to open her business, many people cautioned her that 90% of small businesses fail in the first year. Now, 30 years after her eponymous company opened with one room and one client, Moore has grown into the state’s leading public affairs firm with a robust team stretched across Tallahassee, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Miami — and across the Gulf Coast.

In addition to being the founder and CEO, Karen Moore is now an author, philanthropist and frequent public speaker. Even Henry Kissinger called her “one tough lady.” She has been called the grand dame of the public affairs industry in Florida — a moniker she accepts with pride.

Moore is at an exciting time, as she leads a company of 50 team members and after being recognized as the No. 1 public affairs firm in Florida, as ranked by O’Dwyer’s. This year, the award-winning agency announced the addition of seven new Partners to play a major role in propelling the success and growth of the agency.

I talked with Moore about 30 years of success, the dynamic nature of public affairs, Florida’s status as a national leader and her thoughts on what’s next for her industry.

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Congratulations on Moore’s 30th anniversary! Tell us a little about how the industry has changed in that time.

So much! Thirty years ago, if you wanted the media to cover your issue or your event, you wrote a press release and you would fax it. Needless to say, the methods and channels for promoting our clients and issues have changed dramatically. One thing hasn’t changed – relationships are still key.

Our team knows how to build trusted relationships, and we have built long-lasting trusted relationships with industry and opinion leaders, members of the Capitol press corps and reporters in every media market.

We also understand the nuances of different channels and methods of delivering messages and building influence. At Moore, we have skilled experts in social, digital, paid advertising, public relations, crisis communications, data-informed research and strategic marketing – overlaid to the expertise of public affairs.

We have moved to monitoring what’s being said with best-in-class listening technology — leveraging these conversations

for our clients and their issues. Our company is one of the best in the nation at taking that data and using it effectively to drive strategy and influence.

What is it like working with lobbyists?

Throughout our agency’s tenure, we have always worked in lockstep with lobbying and government relations partners. They bring critical relationships and expertise in legislative and regulatory processes, and we help provide the air cover.

From tailored media strategy to coalition-building and influencer engagement, our public affairs team complements the lobbying team by amplifying the message and ensuring it reaches the right people. New media platforms and digital innovations are giving us more opportunities than ever to help ensure our efforts are laser-focused and nimble to meet the fast-moving pace of the Capitol.

Digital is impacting everything. How is it changing public affairs?

Think of the people — sometimes even the person — whom you want most to

hear your message. Data and digital platforms can now reach them with precision and assess, in real time, what tactics are working best.

Geo- or contextual-based targeting gives us the opportunity to reach audiences based on their physical location or their online activities. Our team can now get even closer to reaching the individuals we need to influence, regardless of where they are in the world, using first-party data technology.

Our director of data and intelligence loves to give clients a tour of their own website. He uses a heat map to show them where visitors are spending the most time and at what point they are most likely to click through to sign a petition or contact their legislator. Our team can quantify how many days between a user’s first visit and the converting visit and use that information to optimize digital advertising campaigns and other messaging. It is such an exciting time to bridge the opportunities presented by data and digital innovations with the tried-and-true strategies and relationships our agency has built over the past 30 years.

Why is it exciting to be in this industry in Florida?

The way Florida goes, the country goes. We’re the state that most other states look toward, and as a result I believe we are more groundbreaking. And to be successful in this industry, you must be at the top of your game and innovative. Thirty years ago, you needed to represent clients in tourism, agriculture, maybe technology — or at least have a foot in those industries. Now, think of all that Florida can boast in: healthcare, aerospace, finance, IT, life sciences, manufacturing, transportation and academic research.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s data shows that Florida, if it were an independent country, would be the 15th largest economy in the world. So it isn’t just that the nation looks to us; the world looks to us. We get to help our clients communicate their messages within and about this thriving landscape, and it signals that the future is very bright for our industry.

What’s in store for the future?

Five years ago, I could not have imagined the impact of all that has happened with technology, so it is amazing to think of the changes coming in the next five. So technology will continue to evolve our public affairs and marketing efforts and Moore will lead in leveraging new innovations. And we will balance them with smart strategies that target nuanced audiences while building genuine trust and relationships.

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Who We Are

The Association of Early Learning Coalitions (AELC) supports the role of Florida’s 30 Early Learning Coalitions (ELCs) to develop and administer a comprehensive system of early care and education that supports families and prepares young children to succeed in school and in life.

The AELC’s main priority is to advocate for continued investment in early learning by informing policy makers and the public about the benefits of early education and the importance of preserving parental choice and access for Florida’s youngest learners.


To strengthen Florida’s early learning system through innovation, leadership and advocacy.


Florida’s children are supported in a community dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

Primary Goal

Prioritize Florida’s youngest learners by providing access to a quality education that promotes Kindergarten readiness and allows families to enter and thrive in the workforce with a clear path toward upward mobility and long-term economic self-sufficiency.

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Molly Grant Executive Director Jes Fowler Deputy Director
Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 59 TRUSTED. TESTED. TENACIOUS. Governmental Consulting, Administrative Law and PAC Management 119 South Monroe Street, Suite 202 | Tallahassee, Florida 32301-1591 | (850) 681-6788 |

On 3 Public Relations celebrates 15 years

Public relations and communications firms are ubiquitous in Tallahassee, with new ones popping up constantly. But one boutique firm has not only stood the test of time, it has defied the odds.

On 3 Public Relations (On3PR) first opened its doors in early 2008 … just in time for the Great Recession. But while companies nationwide were struggling to stay afloat — many sadly succumbing to the strained economy — On3PR and its founder,  Christina Johnson, managed to find a niche.

“During my first years, as the national economy melted, many businesses dropped their internal and external communications, marketing and public relations teams. In the worst economic times, which we experienced again during the pandemic, however, is precisely when every business needs public relations help the most. And that, in the early years, is how I was able to build a base of clients. What often began as a short-term project to guide them out of the recession turned into long-term anchor clients and trusted colleagues, and I was able to maintain and build my business.”

Two years later, On3PR was the agency of record for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis. FRLA and On3PR held hospitality and tourism briefings in the hardest hit areas to educate those affected on various relief efforts. Together, they forcefully pushed back on national and international narratives that Florida beaches were covered in oil, which initially crushed the tourism-reliant economy.

FRLA members credited that effort for increased regional bookings as the industry grappled for tourism and hospitality dollars in the midst of a crisis whose effects were miscommunicated on a national and global stage.

Later, On3PR worked with Uber in 2017 as the company, and others like it, fought for uniform regulations statewide rather than the patchwork of rules community to community that made it difficult for rideshare companies to operate. Hailing an Uber now seems like something we’ve always had access to, but it took a massive strategy and PR effort to find consensus.

Johnson’s deep experience throughout her career in local, state and federal political campaigns and causes, combined with her leadership posts in state government, presents a unique blend of policy and politics few other communication firms offer.

She most recently served as campaign spokesperson for Attorney General  Ashley Moody and House Speaker  Paul Renner, has worked on ballot amendment issues and federal super PACs, and previously led the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute, which identifies and trains business leaders to run for office at all levels.

Johnson has been named three times in this publication as one of the Most Influential People in Florida Politics and has mentored young professionals in their career in politics and public relations.

“I have been blessed to have incredible people join the firm over the years, and it’s been wonderful to see people grow and prosper from here to Washington, D.C., and across the country in corporate and government careers,” Johnson said. “Our team says a great part of being at On3PR is that there’s a variety of issues, representing 15 industries, and no two projects are alike. That’s exactly how I envisioned the firm back in 2008 — every day is an adventure!”

On3PR also leads the comms efforts for several associations, including the Florida Medical Association, Florida TaxWatch and the Institute of Politics at Florida State University. The firm previously served as lead on Central Florida’s SunRail efforts and Orlando’s Project Hometown, charged with building a new sports arena, performing arts center and renovating the Citrus Bowl.

“It’s been an incredible journey and I’m already looking forward to the next 15 years of telling stories and connecting people through grassroots advocacy and corporate and political communications,” Johnson added.

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“...every day is an adventure!”
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PHOTO: The Workmans
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How a Florida firm has become an unsung hero in Sunshine State advocacy

For many associations in Florida, Partners in Association Management provides the perfect solution to behindthe-scenes management and helps give industries a presence in Tallahassee.

Partners, headquartered in the capital city, helps trade groups stay organized, supporting everything from board and financial management and membership to advocacy efforts and events. Clients include, among others, the Florida Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association, Florida Ground Water Association, Florida Life Care Residents Association and Florida Surplus Lines Association.

Partners celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year.

“Twenty-five years in, I am proud of us for sticking to a slow, but steady growth strategy. Like most small businesses, we started with a small stable of clients and our original three associations are still clients,” Partners CEO Bennett Napier said.

“As a professional services firm, we wanted to make sure we always delivered for our existing clients and we recognized that we would grow organically with them. As a result, a good portion of our business growth over the years has been referrals from existing client board members. This has been appreciated as our team has a strong commitment to not taking the eye off who got us here.”


Partners in Association Management was founded in 1998 by Napier, a certified association executive with a master’s degree in applied American politics and policy from Florida State University. He started with just one client: the Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA). The 14,000-member senior citizens’ advocacy organization remains a client 25 years later.

At its founding, the business growth philosophy was, “grow slow but steady.” That idea puts the focus on attracting clients that are a good long-term match, rather than growing just for the sake of it. That strategy works. Partners has had

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almost zero client turnover in the last 15 years.

“I have been privileged to work with Partners in Association Management, both as Board Chair of our national certification body as well as Board President of our national trade association. Both organizations had been headquartered in Washington, D.C., for years and our leadership made the decision over 20 years ago to move our operations to Florida, to be managed by Partners,” said Heather Voss of the National Association of Dental Laboratories and the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. “Partners’ passion for our cause has greatly advanced awareness of our profession among state Legislatures, federal regulators and allied organizations.”

As the company grew, other senior executives came onboard to manage expanding client relationships and company operations. Members of executive management average more than 18 years with Partners, a testament to the company’s quality both internally and externally. Today, Partners has just over 40 team members serving its clients.

Facing page: For 25 years, Partners in Association Management has provided a variety of services to help trade groups grow and prosper. Above: Front, left to right: Jillian Heddaeus; CMP, IOM, PIAM vice president; Bennett Napier, MS, CAE, PIAM president/CEO; and Rachel Luoma, MS, CAE, PIAM vice president. Back, left to right: John Ricco, MPA, CAE, PIAM vice president, and Eric Thorn, PIAM general counsel.

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Partners is not, nor has it ever been, a lobbying firm. It’s also not a public relations or media firm. Rather, Partners fills a niche in the advocacy supply chain by providing turnkey day-to-day operations for associations.

Due to its work with nonprofit associations, Partners has considerable experience in advocacy and issue management, PAC management and the legislative and regulatory process at the state and federal level.

Several management team members with the company previously worked as lobbyists or served as legislative staff, including a former General Counsel for the House.

Partners has a proven track record of year-over-year growth in client net assets, which has led to high retention. Revenue growth increases Partners clients’ ability to maximize advocacy and public relations.

“As a career insurance professional in Florida, including executive time with the FCCI Insurance Group and the Office of Insurance Regulation, I have been around the Florida Legislative process since the late 1970s. In my ‘retirement years,’ I have served as a state board member of the Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA). I have watched firsthand the value that the team at Partners in Association Management brings to our 14,000 member senior citizens advocacy group,” said Raymond M. Neff, CEO of AIHC Group. “In an arena of political Goliaths in the long-term care sector, we have been able to effectively get a seat at the table and ensure our voice is respected by regulators and legislators.”

The firm is involved in a wide range of public policy issues each Legislative

Session including long-term care, insurance, dentistry, groundwater and funeral services. Partners staff — working with lobbying and PR partners — have successfully initiated or defended legislative and regulatory changes impacting clients.

“Partners has a best-in-class team to handle the nuts and bolts of association management, but who are also in tune with the political and advocacy components critical to any association’s success,” Capital City Consulting Partner Ashley Kalifeh said. “In my experience, they are able to take trade groups to the next level by advancing both their operational and legislative pursuits.”

Over the years, Partners has been a strategic resource for clients, working with public relations firms, including Moore, Sachs Media, Allison Aubuchon Communications, Salter Mitchell and RB Oppenheim Associates. Partners also works with lobbying firms Capital City Consulting, Gray Robinson, the Southern Group, Whisper, Shutts and Bowen and Ramba Consulting Group.


Workforce culture has been a staple throughout Partners’ history. Florida Trend magazine has ranked the company 10 times as a Best Company to Work For.

All staff are encouraged to seek internal and external training opportunities and to pursue leadership positions through state and national associations and professional societies supporting association management. These opportunities ensure staff stay on the cutting edge of association management, and result in staff having a better understanding of the needs and roles of volunteer leaders.


The company serves as headquarters for 22 state and national trade and professional associations. It is one of only 79 accredited association management firms in North America and one of only two in Florida.

Partners employs 42 association professionals who work with client organizations, including 15 Certified Association Executives and/or Certified Meetings Professionals.

Partners produces 15 annual conventions and more than 85 training seminars and workshops, reaching more than 10,000 attendees.

It manages more than 10 credentialing programs and five print magazines and advertising programs that provide $850,000 in revenue for client associations.

In addition to Florida Trend’s Best Companies to Work For, Partners has been a three-time Seminole 100 Award Winner, a two-time Tallahassee Family Friendly Workplace Winner, and has received the Florida Governor’s Business Ambassador Award.

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Members of the leadership team include (left to right): Amy Bean, Bennett Napier and Jillian Heddaeus. In addition to providing service that has led to decades-long relationships, PIAM has also earned kudos as a great place to work.

Governor Ron

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Speaker of the House Paul Renner

for putting Florida consumers and local businesses above billboard trial lawyers.

We would also like to recognize bill sponsors Representatives Tommy Gregory and Tom Fabricio, and Senator Travis Hutson for carrying this historic Chamber-backed legislation.

For more information visit:

Thank you

Rising Stars

Some people spend entire careers honing their skills to truly make it in the complicated Process that is Tallahassee politics and governance. Others seemed destined for the Rotunda spotlight practically from birth.

In this issue, we pay homage to the Rising Stars who, despite youth and inexperience, are on the fast track to success. This year’s cohort comes from all corners of The Process, whether it’s lobbying or serving as an elected official, staff or a regulator.

Their backgrounds are varied, from a high school student to an immigrant, whether from political legacy or first-generation college grad. Regardless, each has clearly found a calling, and it shows.

We spoke with those who work closest to them and found a lot of similarities. Words like “passion,” “drive” and “inspired” came up often. Most were also described as humble, owing their success to the mentors who are helping shape them.

This year’s cohort exudes focus, drive and acumen in their fields. It may well be that staring up from the pages of this magazine is Florida’s next headline-making politician, lobbyist or regulator.





Abebe hasn’t graduated high school yet, but already boasts connections to national leaders in the progressive movement. She worked on U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost’s successful campaign for Congress last year, helping elect a man eight years her elder as the youngest Congressman in the country.

She also interns for state Rep. Anna Eskamani, worked on Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor and organized a vigil in Orlando for Tyre Nichols, a Memphis man who died after a beating by police captured on video.

“I’ve always been inclined toward politics,” Abebe explained.

The 18-year-old speaks with the authority of a politico pro with years of experience and the conviction of someone whose life experience exposed her to threats against human rights. Indeed, both statements are true. Born in Ethiopia, her family fled violence there and ultimately left Africa for a life in the United States.

She moved to Florida in 2018, where she was startled at the mundane acceptance of shooting drills in school. “I was in eighth grade and I remember feeling so confused why the teacher was turning off the lights, telling us to hide under the table, and wondering why this was normal,” she recalls.

That year brought a vivid explanation why such drills occur when a school shooter killed 17 people, most students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. That prompted Abebe to action. She started attending March For Our Lives rallies, where she heard Frost speak years before he ran for office.

Now a student at University High School, Abebe serves as president of the Black Leaders of Tomorrow chapter at her school, which is why she

organized the Nichols vigil. She has also spoken out in media against legislation like the Stop WOKE Act.

She holds a special interest in immigration and has enjoyed interning in Eskamani’s office because it gives her the opportunity to directly help some individuals struggling to navigate those bureaucratic processes.

She hasn’t decided yet where to attend college, but she plans to pursue political science and law.

The young activist, having worked on the legislative and political sides of the process, hasn’t decided exactly what career path to pursue. She enjoys learning about the grit of crafting real policy, like a popular tax exemption on diapers sponsored by Eskamani and embraced by conservative Gov. Ron DeSantis

But she professes a “deep love” of the campaign trail. “I love canvassing and meeting people where they are,” Abebe said.

“I’ve always been inclined toward politics,”

Alyssa Akbar

It’s difficult for young people to find a place in The Process, and it’s hard for them to get peers engaged at all. That shifted significantly in 2018, when a tragic school shooting at Mar jory Stoneman Douglas High School spurred the March for Our Lives Move ment, drawing in Alyssa Ackbar

“I was always aware of social is sues, but was a little too young and too detached,” she said. “But when that incident happened and all opportunities to get involved arose, I couldn’t see not doing something.”

Just a junior at Robinson High School in Tampa at the time, Ackbar threw herself into the movement. “It helped show me what grassroots pol itics looks like in Florida,” she said.

She’s now a national organizer for March for Our Lives. She’s also the na tional lobbying coordinator for Team Enough, the youth outreach arm of Brady: United Against Gun Violence. For more than a year, the 22-year-old has served on the executive council for the organization.

Her focus right now is on making the lobbying process as accessible as possible to young people. She organizes collectives in Florida, California, Virginia and Washington focused on bringing young voices to state government.

“It’s hard to get young people to Tallahassee,” Ackbar said.

She notes the simple logistical challenges that stem from the Florida Capitol sitting in the Panhandle of a state where the greatest population concentrations are in the south.

She graduated in December from Florida State University with a major

ing pleas to politicians and hearing excuses and demands repeated over time. But she’s also learned a greater appreciation of the intersectionality of issues and how causes interlap and build off the work of one another. She happens to feel a connection to a range of groups that need a voice on policy.

Ackbar is the child of immigrants,

with a father from Trinidad and a mother from Brazil. She’s also a member of the LGBTQ community.

“As a brown woman growing up in this state, I have experienced a lot of different things,” she said. “That has allowed me to see different from my White counterparts.”

“... opportunities to get involved arose, I couldn’t see not doing something.”

Maya Anderson

is barely old enough to vote. But she’s already making a mark on the po-

The 19-year-old worked Joe Biden and managed call time for Maxwell Alejanand for former . Her résumé included internships with state lawmakers, volunteer hours with the Florida Democratic Party and finance drudgery with statewide political committees.

“I love the feeling like I can make a difference in something I know a lot about and feel passionate about,” Anderson said. “I just see all the ways I can help Floridians in their everyday lives.” The potential for impact became clear when Anderson worked as an intern for state Rep. Anna Eskamani during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. At a time when many people were losing their jobs without notice, she helped individuals secure benefits through the state.

“We did a lot of help escalating cases with the Department of Economic Opportunity, helping people regardless of their political stance and who they voted for,” she recalled.

That taught her the value of making sure to elect people of integrity into public office, characteristics she sees as more valuable than ideology.

Meanwhile, she’s rapidly developed a love for campaign finance. Before managing call time for a congressional and gubernatorial campaign in 2022, she worked for Eskamani’s political committee on the fundraising side.

“It’s something I do care about and find really exciting,” she said, “and something a lot of other people would find very mundane.”

Despite her age, Anderson expects to graduate this summer from Florida State University, earning her bachelor’s degree in political science before she’s old enough to legally buy a drink. She came to campus with plenty of credits under her belt earned in high school.

Already on the fast track for life, Anderson has a summer internship lined up in Washington working for Grassroots Analytics, that could give her a taste of national politics. “Florida will always be the state I am most passionate about, but I want to help anywhere I can make a difference,” she said.

Her ambitions remain behind the scenes, at least for now. She wants a job working on campaigns but is happy to man the books instead of appearing on the ballot.

“I don’t think I want to run for office,” she said. “I feel weird when people have running for office as their No. 1 aspiration. There are so many other things you can do to make a difference.”

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“I love the feeling like I can make a difference ...”


Natalie Brown, a senior legislative assistant for Sen. Danny Burgess, almost left The Process.

“I tried to leave politics once. I spent more than a year in marketing and communications for a cigar company in Tampa,” she recalled. “But after watching the 2018 election cycle from the sidelines, I knew I had to get back in.”

That pull led her to join the office of then-Sen. Tom Lee, bringing her back into the fold and allowing one of the Rising Stars of Florida politics to shine.

Brown got her first small taste of the political world while volunteering as an election equipment tech at the Martin County Supervisor of Elections. “I helped thousands of voters cast their ballot in 2012, but wasn’t old enough to vote,” she said.

She went on to major in economics at Florida State University. Shortly before starting college, she attended a local Lincoln Day dinner and met thenCFO Jeff Atwater.

Atwater “told me to call his office and that he’d love to have me as an intern in the Department. Of course, it was a surprise for his team when I actually called,” Brown said.

She took that internship position once she was a student at FSU. She also would intern with then-Rep. Manny Diaz, and with Chris Moya and Emily Buckley at Jones Walker.

Later on, Brown worked in Washington in a communications role for Concerned Veterans for America and Americans for Prosperity.

AFP-Florida State Director Skylar Zander called Brown a “key piece” of the team there.

“Natalie’s intellect, calming presence, and drive are so welcoming in a process full of individuals who typically freak out

and react out of haste,” Zander said. “Her loyalty and focus on not only her success, but her boss’s success, sepa rate her from the pack and are more reasons why she is going to excel in this crazy Process long term.”

Brown said she was thankful she returned from her 2018 break and land ed in Lee’s Office.

“He kept me on my toes and was the toughest boss I’ve ever had,” Brown related, “but he wanted me to succeed and I learned a lot from him.”

This is now her fifth Session in the Senate, and seventh Session overall, and she says sev eral individuals have impacted her along the way.

Danny Martinez now at AFP-Florida, was working for Diaz at the same time Brown was an intern.

“They could have just had me answer the phones,” Brown said, “but instead, they gave me every opportunity to learn about The Process from committee weeks to Sine Die. I met constituents and lobbyists, sat in on meetings, and wrote talking points and press releases. Danny has


been a mentor and friend for 10 years.”

She also shouted out Kathy Galea and Patty Harrison on the Senate side. At the time Brown started there, Galea was with then-Sen. Bill Galvano and Harrison worked for then-Sen. Wilton Simpson.

“My first few months in the Senate were incredibly challenging,” Brown remembered. “Sen. Lee told me on Day 1 that he had never trained new staff, so it was up to me to make friends and

learn the role as quickly as possible. Fortunately, both Kathy and Patty kept their doors open for me.”

Brown isn’t sure what her future will hold going forward, but said she’s worked hard to hone a skill set to enable success in the Legislature.

“I am a problem solver, and for me ‘work smarter, not harder’ means working together. Across the aisle or across the state, in the chamber or in the rotunda, it doesn’t matter. We are

all a part of The Process and no person or policy is an island,” she explained.

“Sometimes working together means solving a problem with a quick phone call. Other times, we work on legislation for years before we see solutions. The variety keeps the job exciting. Also, there is something special about being able to read a statute you helped write and to see the impact of your work in your local community year after year.”

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“I am a problem solver, and for me ‘work smarter, not harder’ means working together... We are all a part of The Process and no person or policy is an island.”



Thecamera stays on the woman’s face because she has an important message: She has survived a close call with breast cancer. Her eyes shine. We learn she has already triumphed in astonishing ways. Chaunte Lowe is a fourtime Olympic high jumper, meaning she beat out top-tier competition over 16 straight years.

But she would never have overcome triple-negative breast cancer, had early detection not made that possible. The one-minute spot is an argument to support the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which promotes access to care for underserved populations. The nonprofit was hoping for state funds to supply that care. To get the message out, they turned to Sachs Media and Amy Climenhage, one of the brightest stars at the well known communications firm.

Climenhage, 25, was a driving force behind the video. She likes producing content that is both intimate and immediate. It is not far removed from her lifelong passions for writing and reading, a visual injection capable of drawing in even a casual viewer.

“I always appreciate being trusted with someone’s story and getting to tell it well for them,” she said.

Her bosses appreciate it too. Three years after hiring her, they made Climenhage the youngest account manager in the company’s 27-year history.

“Amy’s skills and enthusiasm were evident right from the start,” said Herbie Thiele, a Sachs partner and spokesman. “She already had an exceptional skill set — and what she didn’t know, she was able to figure out or learn quickly.”

Her journey began in 1998 as Amy Cook, the only child of three in the family to be born in Florida, or to stay here. Others returned to Michigan, where the family had previously lived.

“I’ve always kind of felt like I paved my own way,” she said.

That sentiment includes putting down roots here: “I love the state of Florida. I guess I’m quite loyal to it.”

Because of her love of reading, she originally grew up thinking she might want to be a teacher. She’s a big advocate of early childhood education, and has also used her public relations savvy to get help to coastal Floridians in the aftermath of major storms.

As a communications intern at UF Health Shands Hospital, she gravitated toward writing profiles of nurses and other health care workers. They were not famous, nor were they professional communicators, but they had stories, each one unique. Gradually, a portrait of the institution emerged through the descriptions and experiences of its staff.

“My eyes just kind of opened,” she said. “I quickly found out that I absolutely loved doing that kind of work.”

Her relationship with Sachs began during a college internship.

“She recognized right away what questions to ask, and understood the answers and how to apply them to her work,” Thiele said. “And she only grew in her knowledge from there.”

As a public affairs account manager, Climenhage is able to move in the direction of her clients’ needs. Strategies vary from traditional news to traditional advertising, social media or the kinds of testimonial videos that can make a difference, depending on the audience a client needs to reach.

Payoff from promotional spots such as the Chaunte Lowe video is abundant. The Mary Brogan early detection program is now enshrined in a Florida 2022 statute, which authorizes state and federal funds to underwrite free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings for qualifying candidates.

In her free time, Climenhage enjoys running the Florida trails, sampling dining spots with her husband, Brandon Climenhage, or meeting up with friends.

She has passed the lessons of mentorship from partners like Theile and Drew Piers, the managing director, on to new colleagues, challenging or cheering them on. She hopes to continue creating effective, moving content by and for Floridians.

“I think people are very much moved by a personal story,” she said, “giving an issue a voice, highlighting that person and what their story is or says about the general issue. Floridians understand that.”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 75 Colodny Fa ss. c om 8 50 . 57 7. 0398 | 954. 492 . 4 010 From the C apitol to t he Courthouse With a 40-year track record of lobbying success and longstanding relationships at all levels of Florida government statewide, Colodny Fass is ranked annually among Florida’s top lobbying law firms.


InJanuary 2021, Zach Colletti started work as a legisla tive aide to Sen. Jeff Brandes. It was a baptism by fire.

“My first day there, he handed me 80-plus pages of re search and said, ‘Take a look at this and let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” said Colletti, 25. The document laid out the dynamics of a property insurance crisis threatening com panies and customers alike. Providers were reeling from a flood of lawsuits, many of them fraudulent. Compa nies were leaving the state and those that remained were kicking customers off their rolls or charging higher rates.

“I was just shocked,“ Colletti said. “I was like, ‘How haven’t I heard about this? I’ve lived here my entire life, this is crazy!’”

Why would he? Like most of his peers a couple years out of college, Colletti had nev er taken out a homeowner’s policy. He spent that night poring over the complexities that have allowed Florida to account for 9% of the insurance market in the country and 79% of its litigation, according to a 2022 report by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation.

But as his employers have discovered, Colletti feels most at home when tearing apart the thorn iest issues affecting voters, then framing them in easily digestible language. He worked for Brandes’ office 16 months, leading other staffers on both insur ance and transportation.

“Our office was typically one of the busiest in the Leg islature as far as bills and amendments went,” Brandes said. “And (Colletti) had two whole areas of policy that he oversaw for our team. He was consistently outper forming his peers on almost every level.”

“In many ways he reminds me of Brandes said, referring to another former legislative aide and INFLUENCE Magazine “30 Under 30” winner. Spen cer now directs policy and budget for Gov.

In addition to work ethic, both men possess an “abil ity to creatively think around problems,” Brandes added.

After two legislative Sessions, Colletti rejoined En wright Rimes Consulting. That relationship had begun serendipitously a few years earlier, as he was complet ing a bachelor’s degree at Florida State University and


interning with the Republican Party of Florida. Enwright Rimes is located one floor below the RPOF headquarters on East Jefferson Street, in the

“The internship was kind of ending, and he wound up coming downstairs and working for us,” co-founder

The initial stint lasted 15 months in the company’s digital arm. He worked Zach Monahan, another former INFLUENCE Rising Star who is now Enwright Rimes’ creative director. Colletti returned in April 2022 as director of operations, and has since contributed to the winning campaigns of state Reps. and Jason Brodeur, state Nick DiCeglie, and Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus.

His verbal acumen comes in handy in a variety of roles, whether it’s writing newsletter content for a client, explaining what’s at stake this week in the Legislature or prepping candidates for a debate. “He’s got a really good feel for how to take those complex issues and make them relatable and understandable to people in real life,” Rimes said.

He grew up in West Palm Beach, the son of a shop foreman for county school buses who once cooked for restaurants. “He’s the best cook I’ve ever met,” Colletti said. “That’s objective. I’m not saying that because he’s my dad.”

While some kids rely on an allowance, Colletti got his extra money working at Publix stores from the ninth grade through his freshman year of college. He went to FSU with plans for law school, majoring in political science because that seemed like a decent bet to pave the way.

Because law and politics are often intertwined, he took an internship with the Mayernick Group for the 2018 Session. And a funny thing happened: He liked it.

“I had a really great experience with them, and that made me decide to keep pushing forward in this field,” he said. In April of that year he joined the gubernatorial campaign of Adam Putnam, at the time a solid favorite to win the Republican nomination. That all changed

with a timely endorsement by President Donald Trump for DeSantis.

“I certainly realized how quickly the tide can turn in politics, and especially in elections,” said Colletti, who worked in the final months of the DeSantis campaign as a recruiter. He spent the next two and a half years with the National Federation of Independent Business, then as a digital project manager for Supernova Digital (an Enwright Rimes company), which proved eye opening.

“That was my first time seeing how things on the higher level of campaigns are done,” he said. “How the fundraising happens, how the messaging happens, and all of the factors that go into getting your message out effectively.”

Colletti said he enjoyed that learning experience and hoped to return to Enwright Rimes once his time working for Brandes, an equally irreplaceable opportunity, had passed. In a sense, the next 16 months brought him full circle, beyond the art and science of campaigns to their purpose.

“Most of the people who vote are not poring over policy,” he said. “Their jobs are not involved in politics. They

have a laundry list of other things in their personal lives. So for me, making it easy for someone to stay informed is a really important part of civic society. The more information you can put in front of someone before they vote, the better it is for our democracy.”

Taking phone calls from the public brought home the stakes, none more vividly than those from anxious homeowners who had lost their insurance, or unwittingly signed on to a contractor’s lawsuit that did not benefit them.

“Fielding those calls is hard,” he said. “We know what has to be done, but sometimes there are serious roadblocks. That’s hard to explain to somebody who says, ‘I can’t afford to live in my home anymore that I’ve owned for 20-plus years.’ It really affects you. But it makes working on issues like that seem even more important.”

Away from work, Colletti said he enjoys cooking. Grilling in particular was “a big COVID hobby of mine,” he said, one he could get right or wrong without grave consequences. He aims for impeccable flavors, the way his father taught him.

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“ ... making it easy for someone to stay informed is a really important part of civic society. The more information you can put in front of someone before they vote, the better it is for our democracy.”



is a bit like jazz.

It alternates between exciting and dull, rote and unpredictable. There are any number of players, each responsible for honoring but adding to the creations of their forebears.

And like the jazz great whose name he shares, Florida’s Miles Davis is damn good at his job.

Davis, a 26-year-old Fort Myers native, is in his sixth year in Democratic politics. For more than a third of that time, he’s been the Chief of Staff to Miami Gardens Sen. Shevrin Jones.

Those who know Davis share a glossary when discussing him: Organized. Composed. Pleasant. Outgoing. Deliberate. Careful. Knowledgeable. Driven. Kind.

“People know that he comes in peace,” Jones said, “but he’s very good at what he does.”

Davis entered politics in May 2016 as a field organizer for the Florida Democratic Party, the first of three roles of increasing import he held with the organization over fourplus years.

Through late 2018, he ran the election campaigns of Gainesville Rep. Yvonne Hinson, Iowa state Sen. Nate Boulton, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

He then joined the office of Tampa state Rep. Dianne Hart, who sought him out to work as her first legislative aide after an impressive meeting with him years earlier.

Veteran political operative Janae Murphy, who introduced them, said


“ ... he goes the extra mile. He’s loyal, knows his stuff...”

Davis was something of a “hidden gem” at the time, though that distinction has become less apt as his reputation has grown.

“Miles is the person you hope and pray you get on your team, because he goes the extra mile,” Murphy said. “He’s loyal, knows his stuff, knows the Capitol backwards and forwards, and what he doesn’t know, he learns quickly.”

Davis worked under Hart for only a year, but she said the impression he left on her staff, colleagues and constituents lasts to this day.

“Miles was so patient when talking

to people, and he was doting to me, handled everything I needed him to,” she said. “Years later, everybody still asks after him.”

Davis is responsible for overseeing the office’s daily operations, staff meetings, bill and appropriation filings, committee preparations, conferring with lobbyists and serving as Jones’ proxy when the Senator is otherwise occupied.

And though Davis’ reputation as a measured, intentional leader might suggest he’s uncomfortable in tense situations, the contrary is true.

“Even when we’re putting out fires left and right, Miles can look at the situation to determine the most effective way to move forward,” said Marina Braynon-Moore, Jones’ senior district secretary. “That’s invaluable.”

Davis maintained that energy last year while sick and quarantining with COVID-19, said Emily Rodrigues, Jones’ former legislative aide.

“He still guided us from home,” she said. “Miles just stays so collected in high-stress moments. He’s really good at focusing and managing different expectations.”

Davis’ combo of attributes, like a well-practiced jazz band, have led some — including Jones — to suggest he could enjoy a bright career as an elected official himself one day.

Davis hasn’t voiced any such aspiration, Jones said, “but I’ve told him he should.”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 79
– janae murphy



Onthe one hand, the teenage Mary Katherine Delegal had the widest array of options ahead of her. The Tallahassee native was a good student and came from a supportive family, one that would surely back whatever career choice she made.

On the other, the same family members had tracked toward one choice in their own lives. “Both my parents are lawyers, my grandparents were lawyers and all their friends are lawyers,” said Delegal, 25 (who goes by MK). “So that’s all I knew and what I thought the path was going to be.”

During her freshman year at the University of Florida, she took a prep course for the LSAT. “As a 19-year-old, it was daunting,” she said. “Your whole life is, ‘Go to college and then you’ve made it.’ But what do you do when you get to college? I sort of fell in line with what I’d observed and then I realized, ‘Oh wait, this isn’t what I want to do.’”

From then on, the things she got involved in were things she wanted to do. She majored in journalism, picking up freelance work for the Independent Florida Alligator and an internship with a local PBS affiliate. She interviewed inmates at Florida State Prison who were learning to become electricians, covered preparations for self-driving cars, and wrote about responses to the coronavirus.

She also interned for a vanity book publisher, the campaign of Rep. Chuck Clemons, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Allison Aubuchon Communi-


cations. She was a captain on Dance Marathon, which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, and later joined Florida Blue Key, a 100-year-old honor society that has attracted many future state and civic leaders.

“I do tend to think deeply about my next move,” Delegal said. “I think ‘thoughtful’ is an adjective I would use to describe myself, and alongside that, ‘ambitious’ and ‘driven.’ I’m a very loyal person as well.”

Those who know her best would add confidence and coolheadedness to the list.

“I’d say she knows a bit more than the average bear when it comes to experience in this process,” said Josh Aubuchon, a partner in a legal consulting business with Mark Delegal, MK’s father. “I’m excited over her ca-

reer path, the trajectories taken.”

Delegal already understands politics, policy and funding, and “she exudes a presence that belies her age,” Aubuchon said.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, she returned to her hometown of Tallahassee and networked for job leads. She learned of an opening at the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA), the state’s largest trade association, representing more than 70 mental health nonprofits. Soon, Delegal was directing its communications and public affairs. She stayed abreast of all aspects of FBHA’s work, from its committees to meeting with lobbyists to shape her press statements and internal communications.

“Your comms strategy has to coincide with your legislative strategy,” she said, “to make sure you’re pushing out the right message.”

One big message was the mission of the association itself, advocated in recent years by public figures including Casey DeSantis: destigmatizing depression and other mental health challenges.

“With the First Lady championing mental health, it kind of opened a door,” she said. “Maybe even five years ago no one wanted to admit, ‘I might have anxiety or I might be depressed,’ right? Now it’s kitchen table conversation, and people are more willing to talk about it and listen as well.”

Delegal also earned a master’s degree during her first year with the association, graduating in December 2021 from Florida State University’s (FSU) Applied Policy and Politics program.

In March 2023, she joined the communications team at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation under Secretary Melanie Griffin. “She is just incredibly dynamic, very intelligent, and somebody I’ve already learned a tremendous amount from,” Delegal said of Griffin.

She’s grateful for the counsel of seasoned women in the field, including Allison Aubuchon and Alia Faraj-Johnson, a former spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush who now runs her own lobbying and communications firm.

“From Alia I think I’ve learned grace and poise, how to handle a difficult situation,” she said. “She’s someone I’ve just kind of leaned on for support as a friend.”

Another long-standing tie goes all the way back to her high school youth group at Faith Presbyterian Church. That’s where she met Holton Graham. They eventually started dating, maintained a long-distance relationship as undergraduates (he went to FSU) and are now planning a December wedding. They enjoy jaunts to Alligator Point to catch the sunset, a boat they bought during the pandemic, and exploring hiking trails with Hank, a Dalmation mutt.

A couple of weekends in the fall, they’ll head to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, thanks to her dad, who has season tickets. There, Delegal can let loose with two words you don’t hear much in Tallahassee: “Go Gators!”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 81
“Maybe even five years ago no one wanted to admit, ‘I might have anxiety or I might be depressed,’ right? Now it’s kitchen table conversation, and people are more willing to talk about it and listen as well.”



Amol Dhaliwal is the current Director of Government Relations for St. Petersburg College (SPC).

In that role, Dhaliwal leads government relations at the local, state and federal level through building and cultivating relationships with elected officials and other key stakeholders.

He also proposes and drafts SPC’s legislative budget requests to the state Legislature, a crucial component to ensure the school has access to fiscal resources to grow and thrive.

Prior to his work with SPC, Dhaliwal served as the public and legislative affairs coordinator in the Office of the Attorney General under Ashley Moody

Before that, he was a legislative assistant to Sen. Danny Burgess

“When Amol walks in, the first thing you notice is his energy,” Burgess said of his former staffer.

“Since Day 1, he’s shown initiative, ready with problem-solving ideas and passion for whatever it is he is working on. My team and I joke that if the Energizer bunny worked

in this process, he would look like Amol Dhaliwal. Amol has a bright future and I can’t wait to see where he goes.”

Dhaliwal’s legislative and Cabinet-level experience provides a strong

foundation for gov ernment affairs work, with strong connections to key players in Tallahassee and foundational knowledge about the legislative and bud geting process.

“I have known Amol since he worked with Sen. Danny

Burgess’s office. His work ethic and professionalism set him apart from others,” said Shawn Foster, a veteran of the political process. Foster previously served as a lobbyist with the Southern Strategy Group and worked for U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano when he was a state Senator.

“Amol is a great example of how talent, mixed with skills, and a positive attitude, add up to success.”

“Amol is a great example of how talent, mixed with skills, and a positive attitude, add up to success.”
– shawn foster

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Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 83
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Ryan Fernandez Michael

Ryan Fernandez was doing his best to get through his first semester at Florida International University, bagging groceries and aiming for law school. He did find the time one day to show up for a campaign event for Vance Aloupis, who had already practiced law before deciding his heart was in public policy.

Aloupis, a Miami-Dade Republican and a former Young Floridian of the Year, was running for a House seat in 2018, campaigning on free markets and good schools. Fernandez liked what he stood for and told him so.

“He said, ‘Come out and campaign’ and I said, ‘Sure,’” Fernandez recalled. They knocked on thousands of doors.

Then he tore his meniscus playing flag football, which ruled out all of the walking for a while. Aloupis had other ideas: He wanted Fernandez to serve as his Deputy Campaign Manager.

“I said, ‘Deputy Campaign Manager? I have no experience, know nothing about politics, and I’m a bagboy at Publix.’”

Aloupis stood his ground, hired the bagboy and won by 579 votes. The mood was high among his young staffers, including an Aloupis aide named Alexis Calatayud. Aloupis departed the House after two terms. But Calatayud is now a Senator, and Fernandez is a political consultant working for Alex Miranda, another key player in a tight-

knit contingent of young Latino Republicans.

“What I always appre ciated about Ryan was that he was always eager to work,” Aloupis said. “Eager to learn. Always wanted to exceed expec tations. Those qualities are how he differentiated himself (on campaigns), and how he will differen tiate himself in life.”

Fernandez repeat ed as Deputy Campaign Manager for Aloupis in 2020, while also assuming the legislative aide spot va cated by Calatayud, who had become Policy and Programs Director for the state’s De partment of Education.

“We’ve been working really closely with each other the last five, six years, kind of rowing in the same direction,” Calatayud said. “So I’m just really proud of a great success.”

Fernandez grew up in Miami, the son of a 31-year law enforcement officer and a mental health professional. His campaigns tended to win by more comfortable margins than that 2018 nailbiter, but his own pace actually increased. At one point around 2020, he was working  multiple campaigns, while participating in student govern-

ment and taking six courses in order to graduate a semester early.

“I drank a lot of coffee,” he said.

Fernandez then completed Florida State University’s Masters of Applied American Politics & Policy program in 15 months. Some of his most enduring campaign lessons were also the first, from that initial 2018 stretch run.

“You build a compelling story and you knock on doors,” he said. “And try to connect with voters, whether they agree with you or not.”

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Julie Fazekas, director at Red Hills Strategies, is to coworkers, clients and those who know her kind and loyal. But that’s just the surface.

Amanda Bevis, Fazekas’ boss at Red Hills, describes her as not only smart, but savvy on strategy and a master of details — a person who knows her way around an Excel spreadsheet better than most. Detail oriented and thorough, Fazekas is a critical part of the Red Hills team.

Those who know Fazekas describe her as someone who refuses to let any detail fall through the cracks, and she is a critical part of the team at Red Hills Strategies.

“I knew I could count on Julie to hit the ground running. I just had to convince her to join me,” Bevis said. “I’m lucky to count her as my colleague. As an added benefit, I’ve gotten to witness her capabilities expand and career develop over the years. Her future is bright.”

Fazekas joined Red Hills, a Florida-based communications firm that focuses on public policy, in 2019. She had previously worked with Bevis on the Adam Putnam campaign. Bevis saw in Fazekas a strategist who could help meet the needs of the firm’s growing client base.

Prior to joining Red Hills Strategies, Fazekas managed PAC activity for the Florida Hospital Association. She worked for Putnam‘s gubernatorial campaign and his Florida Grown Political Committee.

“Julie is a thoughtful, talented, and trusted advisor to many, but more than that, a loyal friend,” said Justin Hollis, a partner at Southern Group and executive director of the Beer Industry of Florida. “But don’t let the niceness fool

you, she’s willing to have a knife fight in a phone booth for the things that matter.”

Fazekas is a gradu ate of the University of Florida, where she studied marketing and was a member of Florida Blue Key, which organizes homecoming celebrations on campus and facilitates and sponsors the Florida Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament to help high schoolers in Florida develop into the next generation of leaders.

When Fazekas is not placing media stories or planning amazing Capitol events, she’s planning a wedding. After Session, she’ll marry Jack Rogers, part of the legislative affairs team at the Florida Department of Transportation, and anoth er rising star in the politi cal process.

Expect to see these two in a future issue featuring Power Couples.

“... Her future is bright.” – amanda bevis


Paul Fiore

Atfirst, finding himself working for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) could have looked to John Paul Fiore like a pleasant coincidence, the kind people rely on to say a given partnership, job or marriage was meant to be.

And it might have been that, the way Fiore stumbled across an application form for a fellowship program while looking for something else. Fiore was working as a Weiss Legal Fellow then for the First Amendment Foundation, while going through his third year at the University of Florida (UF) law school.

The application was for aspiring Florida Gubernatorial Fellows, a state program that seeks promising students


to immerse in key areas of in state government. A storybook sequence of events followed, starting with the Gubernatorial Fellows placing him with DCF. Today, Fiore, 30, is both a lawyer and lobbyist serving as DCF’s Director of Legislative Affairs.

“The best thing I can say about him is his attitude,” said Justin “JD” Davis, the Cabinet Affairs Director for the Department of Environmental Protection, who met Fiore when both men worked at DCF. “Even when things were stressful, you never had any doubt that he was going to get the job done.”

Lindsey Zander also worked alongside Fiore for three years at DCF, and now serves as Executive Director of the Florida Education Foundation. “He is incredibly dedicated, hardworking, professional, intelligent, loyal and extremely dedicated to the mission the Department serves,” Zander wrote in an email.

In fact, pivotal developments in his own childhood played a larger role in preparing Fiore for his current role than anything that has happened since.

He spent most of the first decade of his life in Connecticut, the only son of a Brazilian mother and a father with New York-Italian roots. When

Fiore was 10, his mother took him with her to a town in Minas Gerais, a state in southeastern Brazil.

The boy admired the resilient spirit of the Brazilian people but struggled initially to learn Portuguese. He spoke with a slight stutter and feared public speaking. A middle-school “contemporary studies” class changed all that.

Students were assigned to follow news events and come to class ready to discuss an issue in a cleareyed way. Instead of simply talking about rampant government corruption, he said, students were told to provide information that might help explain any causes.

“That really sparked my interest,” he said, “and made me pay attention to the importance of having a seat at the table, and making sure that you are engaged, tuned in and involved.”

The class presentations also improved his confidence; he lost the stutter and no longer feared public speaking.

Mother and son returned to Fort Myers when Fiore was 14. Both parents put in extra hours, his mother in her hair removal business and his father as a retail manager, to make sure JP could get through college without student debt.

He studied political science and

geography at UF, volunteered for Dance Marathon and joined Florida Blue Key. He joined DCF in 2018 through Florida Gubernatorial Fellows and has only moved up the ranks since, from legislative specialist, Deputy Legislative Affairs Director and now the Department’s Legislative Affairs Director.

DCF deals with a wide range of crises, including child abuse, substance abuse and mental health, homelessness, adult protective services and human trafficking. “The best role of government is in acknowledging the good government can do as a catalyst for moving the needle in the right direction.”

Toward that end, the Department relies on Hope Florida, founded by Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis, and other nonprofits.

Away from work, Fiore is a self-described homebody. Last fall he married Gabi Oliveira, who was born in Brazil. They have a 6-month-old daughter, Penelope. Being a new husband and father has enlarged his passion for the work he does.

“All we want is to be able to provide a shelter, a home where they’ll be safe and have food every night,” he said. “It’s bare-minimum things we can’t turn a blind eye to.”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 89
“He is incredibly dedicated, hardworking, professional, intelligent, loyal and extremely dedicated to the mission the Department serves.” – lindsey zander

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Sydney Fowler grew up in Panama City learning from two of the best kinds of role models.

Her mother, a lifelong educator, taught her diligence. Her father, a pilot and Army attaché, instilled in her a sense of duty and American pride.

So while her path to becoming the Republican Party of Florida’s Member Liaison for House Campaigns under Speaker-designate Danny Perez wasn’t exactly a straight line, it’s an apt role, and one at which her colleagues agree she’s exceeding.

“In my household, there was an air of public service to your country, state and local community, and a belief in hard work and dedication,” she said. “And I won’t work for someone who’s in this for the wrong reason, who I can’t support. I believe in Chair Perez, his goals and mission.”

As Member Liaison, Fowler, 25, works with every GOP Representative in the House to capitalize on engagement opportunities to promote themselves during the 2024 election cycle.

“I’m constantly checking with the members — how things are back in the district, seeing how things are up here in Tallahassee,” she said. “It adds that extra touch and reassures them that we’re here to use this office over the next two years to make sure we get all 85 current members re-elected.”

Her career in politics began in mid2018, while she sought a master’s degree in law enforcement intelligence from Florida State University. She’d just completed an internship with the nonprofit Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services in Washington and was keen on applying to work for one of the intelligence agencies near the Capitol.

Then another opportunity arose closer to home: a job in the office of newly elected Pensacola Rep. Alex An-

drade. Fowler jumped at the chance, and for roughly a year she learned the ropes of constituent services and grew invested in politics.

Before she knew it, she was staying up to watch Session and learn more about lawmaking. Her boss took note. When a legislative aide position opened in then-Rep. Williamson’s office, Andrade suggested she pursue it.

She worked in Williamson’s office for the next three years.

“I got even more involved and interested,” she said. “I realized that I just loved The Process.”

She left Williamson’s office last June to run the campaign of Rep. Danny Alvarez, who went on to unseat a Democratic incumbent.

In December, she joined House Campaigns in the newly created role

of Member Liaison.

Perez describes Fowler as “a hidden gem” who has been “going 100 mph” since joining.

“She carries herself very well, is extremely bright, works hard, and she’s loyal — all important characteristics for our team,” he said. “The sky’s the limit for her. Sydney is going to be a bright star not just in the House but in politics.”

“... Sydney is going to be a bright star not just in the House but in politics.”
– danny perez



Growing up in the shadow of the Capitol, BD Jogerst long said he did not want to go into politics. It wasn’t until attending college at Florida State University that he realized there was something about The Process that felt like home.

The countless hours of conversation with his father Brian Jogerst, a longtime contract lobbyist, helped spark his desire.

“Even though I didn’t realize it initially, there was no way I was ever going into any other line of work besides politics,” BD said. “What choice did I have when it was the typical topic of conversation around the dinner table? I never stood a chance.”

While working toward his bachelor’s in political science, BD served as a legislative intern at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under then-Commissioner Adam Putnam and credits that role with solidifying his desire to work in The Process. From there, Jogerst joined then-Rep. Jim Boyd’s legislative staff, where he worked around his class schedule to collaborate with legislators, constituents and other stakeholders on policy initiatives.

“BD has consistently impressed me over the years with his exceptional understanding of the political process and an unwavering commitment to serving the needs of our state — both public and private,” now-Sen. Boyd said. “I know we will continue to see BD succeed in his future endeavors.”

Jogerst had just graduated when he moved south to Monroe County to manage then-Rep. Holly Raschein’s successful re-election campaign in House District 120 — securing a decisive victory for her final term in the House.

“No surprise here — the Keys were awesome. Monroe County is home to wonderful people and a lifestyle unlike

any other,” Jogerst said. “It took a little getting used to for a North Florida boy, but after the first good sunburn while door knocking, I looked the part.”

With election season in the rearview, Jogerst moved back to Tallahassee to join the team at Associated Industries of Florida, where Brewster Bevis was “known for his dedication and work ethic to advance public poli cies that fostered a strong business climate in our state and promoted economic growth.”

Jogerst took his knowl edge of government affairs and policy to his current role as a Government & Pub lic Affairs Manager for Sunshine Health, a subsidiary of Cen tene Corporation.

“BD’s experi ence in the public and private sec tors has given him a unique perspec tive,” said Craig Hansen, Senior Vice President of Legislative and Government Affairs for Sunshine Health. “He understands the challenges businesses face and has the experience to navigate our state’s regulatory landscape.”

“... there was no way I was ever going into any other line of work besides politics.”



The Policy Director for the Florida Chamber of Commerce arrived at that position, at least in part, because of his hunger for the chase.

“There are two kinds of dogs,” said Mark Delegal, a legal consultant who recommended Chad Kunde to the Chamber. “One kind you have to hold back. You have to say, ‘You’re eager, that’s good. Slow down.’ The other kind you have to kick in the ass to motivate them.”

Kunde, 28, is the first kind. “He is, No. 1, naturally curious, interested and hard working,” Delegal said. “That’s the main attribute I have observed.”

Kunde grew up in the Washington area around federal workers, starting with his dad, and symbols of influence in stone and marble. His father, a staunch Republican, and mother, who worked for Fannie Mae and voted Democratic, sometimes talked politics at the dinner table. But never once, in Kunde’s memory, was their disagreement contentious.

Too many problems, he maintains, come down to a human tendency to underestimate complexity.

“A lot of people get caught up looking at an issue as if it were 6 inches deep,” he said.


Chad is wanting to become a subject matter expert and put

“I think a lot of nuance is lost on us sometimes. And nuance takes (putting in) the hours to be able to know what you’re talking about, to understand both sides of an issue. That makes you a better advocate for your position, but it also makes you better at thinking, and thinking is good.”

He majored in political science and government at East Carolina University, graduating in 2017. Casting around for jobs, he thought about Florida, where he had family, or on Capitol Hill. Kundee landed with Rep. Paul Renner in 2018. Renner, a Republican whose district includes Flagler County, is the current House Speaker. It turned out to be a fortuitous relationship.

Kunde worked as his aide for nearly a year, driving him around and contributing grassroots campaign strategies.

He moved to Palm Coast in the heart of the district, with Renner’s encouragement, and got to know it intimately.

“I didn’t come in with a MAPP degree, or even have an understanding of what Florida politics looks like,” he said, a reference to Florida State University’s vaunted master’s program in policy and politics. “When you have the opportunity to be with (Renner) every day, you’re kind of

held to a standard and you have to learn quickly. And there was nobody better to learn from.”

He talked to residents who had called the legislator in distress. Those calls left a lasting impression.

“It was eye-opening,” he said. “Some of that stuff you don’t see in Washington.”

Kunde joined the staff of Rep. Wyman Duggan in 2019, first as a district aide and then a campaign manager. That same year, he started grad school at Jacksonville University, studying public policy. He earned a master’s degree in 2021, and worked as public policy coordinator for Florida Realtors, the state’s largest professional trade association with more than 238,000 members.

Representing Realtors allowed him to drill down further on a growing property insurance crisis, with Florida accounting for 76% of insurance litigation nationwide. Those costs get passed to customers.

“There is a lawsuit abuse pandemic in this state, where every business is sued constantly,” he said. “It’s really the No. 1 issue facing this state.”

He had been doing that job for 16 months, at which point Delegal told Kunde that the Florida Chamber was looking for a director of business climate and government policy. “I reached out to him and said, ‘This would be perfect for you to get into this,’” Delegal said.

The timing couldn’t be better, Delegal believes, and the reason is his colorful theory on three career “layers.” The first layer is learning every possible answer about a subject, with real estate policy generally and insurance litigation being two examples.

“Now, as he goes on with his career, in phase two, he will pretty much know the answer but he’s going to have to double check himself,” Delegal said.

In phase three, the one in which Delegal would place himself, “You do know the answer and you are the answer.”

Look behind the lawyer’s jocular tone — there is, for example, a fourth phase, the “kooky old man no one listens to” — and a serious point takes shape: A lot of promising young people with talent and credentials invest too much in prestige and power and forget about acquiring expertise.

“Some of these young guys come along,” he said, “and they don’t want to spend the time learning. They want to go out, hang out at the Governor’s Club, fool around and think about golf tournaments on the way to public policy events. And that’s not Chad. Chad is wanting to become a subject matter expert and put his time in.”

Kunde recently bought a house in Tallahassee 45 minutes from the Gulf Coast. He enjoys spending time with his fiance, Kayla Nocella, and a circle of friends. He relishes a work and social environment in Tallahassee that allows for people to form bonds despite their differences, an example his parents deliberately modeled for their children.

“That’s something I really love about Tallahassee,” Kunde said. “Everyone has a difference of opinion, but to be able at the end of this thing, when you hang your boots up at the end of the day, to say, ‘Yeah, we’re all friends.’”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 95
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annah Littlejohn’s foray into politics wasn’t born of an innate interest, but once she caught the bug, she was in it for life.

Now, less than four years since she took her first job in the field, Littlejohn is coordinating the House campaign finances of the Florida GOP during one of its most dominant periods in history.

The job involves organizing a four-person finance team, running events, tracking funds and following up with donors to ensure the party meets its goals. It’s also helping Speaker-designate Danny Perez, who chairs House Campaigns, to get in front of the right people and steer the party in its mission to not only keep but add to its sizable advantage in 2024.

“It’s really important for Chair Perez to continue the growth, which obviously involves raising a lot of money,” she said. “We’re going to keep all 85 seats and get more.”

Littlejohn began her career in politics in mid-2019 when, at her father’s suggestion and with his help, she secured a legislative internship with the high-powered lobbying firm, Rubin Turnbull & Associates. The job wasn’t especially involved, but it gave her a glimpse of The Process.

She kept at it. Later that year, the Parkland native worked as a petition staffer for Delray Beach Republican Rep. Mike Caruso That led to a job on Perez’s 2020 re-election campaign.


“I would go knock on doors, didn’t really know what I was doing,” she said. “But it sparked something in me that was like, ‘I think I want to do this forever.’”

After helping Perez secure another term last year, she moved to Miami, political science degree in hand, and worked on several races for the Miami-Dade County Commission, including at EDGE Communications under Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert. The candidates she campaigned for — Republicans Kevin Marino Cabrera and Anthony Rodriguez, and Democrats Danielle Cohen Higgins and Micky Steinberg — all won their technically nonpartisan contests.

“I was grateful to have a front-row seat, gain that experience, help those candidates and also witness this Republican wave we’ve seen across the county,” she said.

Perez then hired her as Finance Coordinator for House Campaigns.

At 23, Littlejohn is one of the organization’s youngest team members, but Perez said she’s also among its smartest and most versatile.

“Hannah is a utility player,” he said. “She got into the political world a very short time ago, but she caught on quick. And she’s important to my success. She’s been by my side since we took over House Campaigns, and I’m excited to have her along for the ride.”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 97
“I think I want to do


ForBecker & Poliakoff government relations specialist Max Losner, politics isn’t just a passion; it’s part of his DNA.

A fifth-generation Floridian, Losner grew up in Homestead, Miami-Dade County’s second-oldest city.

It’s where his great-great grandfather, his namesake, and grandfather’s great uncle served as City Councilmen. Today, it’s where his father is seeking a third mayoral term. But his original aim wasn’t politics. Losner attended a medical magnet high school and spent years volunteering at Homestead Hospital. Health care fascinated him, and he decided to seek a degree in health service administration, albeit with a minor in political science, at the University of Central Florida.

While there, he got word of the school’s legislative internship program. He applied, and before he knew it, he was in Tallahassee working for Rep. David Smith and former Rep. Scott Plakon.

“I got firsthand experience in state government and realized I wanted my career to be in the world of government,” he said.

Losner finished the internship and returned to school in March 2020, with an earnest zest for politics. He landed Campaign Manager jobs for two Republicans running for office in Monroe County, Cheryl Meads and Rhonda Rebman Lopez, the latter of whom narrowly lost to now-Rep. Jim Mooney.

From there, his stock skyrocketed. In December 2020, the same month he graduated from college, Losner won a race for Florida GOP Secretary. He then reached out to Becker lobbyists Alex Alamo and José Feuntes, whom he’d met while working at the Capitol, to see if they wanted an extra hand during Session. They did.

“I was their boots on the ground during the ‘COVID Session,’ in the office acting as an administrator, helping service clients, attending meetings, track-

ing bills and so on,” he said.

He stuck with them after, traveling back to Miami-Dade to work from the firm’s Coral Gables office. When Alamo departed in mid-2021, Losner succeeded him.

Since then, he’s helped to attract billions of dollars in funding to local governments and nonprofits the firm represents while successfully advocating for policies benefitting top-tier clients, including Miami-Dade, Miami, CVS, Aetna, Motorola, Siemens Corp. and a passel of engineering firms.

Last year, former Miami-Dade Commission Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz appointed Losner to the county’s Planning Ad-

visory Board, a panel that counsels the County Commission on annexation and incorporations. The board elected him Chair this past December.

Asked where he sees his career going from here, Losner said he feels like doing his current job forever, but he admitted to aspirations akin to those of his paternal forebears.

“I love my work now, but I certainly want to find time to go to law school and expand the scope of what I can do in the practice,” he said. “I want to keep climbing the ladder here, working on impactful legislation. And who knows? Maybe I’ll follow in my father’s footsteps and run for local office.”

“I want to keep climbing the ladder here, working on impactful legislation.”



There is a shortcut to the top in Florida’s political world, but it’s easier said than done: Win early, win big and keep winning.

Avery Lopez did just that, working on political campaigns in South Florida — ranging from the municipal level up to the presidential contest

— amid the region’s unprecedented shift from a Democratic bastion to a clear Republican lean.

In the 2022 election cycle alone, Lopez helped orchestrate a successful re-election campaign for Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera. He also helped now-MiamiDade County Vice Chairman Anthony Rodriguez make the move from the state House and ushered in newly elected Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera. In politics, people who ride the bench don’t get a championship

ring, and Lopez was a starter in each campaign. During the first act of his political career, he oversaw all facets of campaign operations, from grassroots and volunteer organization to logistics, polling, messaging and fundraising.

Each of the candidates he’s served attested to his work ethic, political acumen and winning mentality. As Busatta Cabrera put it, “He always finds a way to get the job done, no matter the task before him.”

Outside of campaign season, there is, of course, the business of governing. Lopez has built an impressive résumé in that arena as well.

Lopez has served in multiple capacities in state and local government, and since 2019 he has worked as the legislative assistant to House Speaker-designate Daniel Perez. Throughout his tenure in the House, Lopez cultivated strong relationships with staff and legislative members in both chambers and across both parties.

Those relationships will serve him well as he starts the next chapter of his career in The Process, working for one of — if not the — top lobbying firms in the Sunshine State.

The Southern Group, which recently expanded its footprint in South Florida, plucked Lopez ahead of the 2023 Legislative Session.

In his new role, the Florida International University graduate and Miami-Dade native will continue to work on statewide policy and appropriations issues in Tallahassee while also assisting clients in navigating county procurement and policy issues on his home turf.

“Miami-Dade County is one of the hottest political markets in the country and Avery has distinguished himself there as a trusted operative who knows how to deliver,” Southern Group Founder and Chairman Paul Bradshaw said.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 99
“He always finds a way to get the job done, no matter the task before him.”
– rep. demi busatta cabrera
Celebrating 15 Years of Fearless



Whensomeone moves from working as a legislative intern with a lobbying firm to becoming a first-stringer for one of the largest and most important state Republican parties in the country, people will take notice.

So it is with Cody McCloud

The Political Director for the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), McCloud has spent most of his career thus far in communication roles for Govs. Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis. For someone placed in such a public view, he has a remarkably light internet presence compared to most in such a high-profile communications environment.

“While a lot of politics can be about promoting yourself, those who know me know that has never been my M.O.,” McCloud said. “I’m much more of a behindthe-scenes type of guy, and I’ve always tried to just keep my head down and focus on the work at hand. This profile is definitely outside of my wheelhouse and comfort zone.”

McCloud began his career with The Fiorentino Group, a Jacksonville-based government relations firm that has significant influence in Tallahassee.

“Cody interned for us as a college student years ago and was a cut above,” said Joe Mobley, a partner and principal at The Fiorentino Group. “It has been a point of pride to watch his career take off and it’s a testament to his sharp intellect, friendly disposition, and keen political compass.

“I expect he’ll continue to make a positive impact on Florida’s political landscape for many years to come.”

McCloud gives The Fiorentino Group credit for launching his career.

“I learned so much so quickly during

my time there, but I think most importantly, I learned that in this business you’re only as strong as the team around you,” McCloud said. “And while this may sound cliché, I’m fortunate to have been a part of some of the best teams in the Process, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have gotten to work with so many incredible colleagues and friends.”

After a time with Greenberg Traurig as a legislative assistant, he began serving as a communications specialist in the Governor’s Office — first for Scott, then DeSantis — moving up to Press Secretary for DeSantis in January 2020.

He spent another year as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation before getting into the mix with the state GOP.

“After having spent most of my career in state government, coming to RPOF for the 2022 cycle provided an exciting opportunity to do something different,”  McCloud said. “Working at the party has given me new experiences and perspectives on the political process that I didn’t have before, as well as introduced me to some great people I wouldn’t have met or interacted with otherwise.

“Every single day presents unique challenges that force

you to adapt and be nimble in order to win the day and be successful, which I really enjoy.”

Spring 2023
“I expect he’ll continue to make a positive impact on Florida...”
– joe mobley



The College Democrats chapter at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) has chartered and dissolved repeatedly, but Jovan Mickens couldn’t stand for the group staying dormant. He worked with peers at the university last fall to resuscitate the organization anew.

“With us being just a couple blocks away from the Florida Capitol, I think it’s important to teach students and the FAMU community the works of civic engagement,” he said.

He led the organization into the 2022 election cycle, which involved voter registration drives, organizing panels and doing everything possible to raise awareness that the College Democrats would not abandon the state’s most prominent historically Black university. The group has since grown from a small group to 30 active members, then 50, and it’s continuing to grow.

The organization adopted a street and started conducting workshops. In a short time, the organization has won face time with some prominent political leaders. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to the group during a visit to Tallahassee. Before his election to Congress, Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost made a trip to the Capital City to speak to members about community organizing.

Mickens, a political science major earning a minor in public administration, plans to pursue a career in public service. That could include running for office someday, but he’s already started political work, includ-

ing volunteering for Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani’s campaign in 2020. He later interned in Eskamani’s legislative office, where he made an impression with the lawmaker.

“His skills in constituent services sharpened, as our office responded to economic struggles across the state,” Eskamani said.

For Mickens, the experience taught him about the good lawmakers can achieve even serving in the minority. He helped constituents deal with problems with EBT credits and to secure assistance to make housing payments.

“Democrats have not had a majority in the House, Senate or any part of government but we were able to do little things,” he said. Mickens plans to utilize the three E’s of public service — education, empowerment and engagement — to further rise in political stature and to continue helping as many people as he can through The Process.

“... it’s important to teach students ... ”



Chad Revis, an associate at the law firm Holtzman Vogel, is quickly becoming the go-to expert on the intersection of law and politics.

His practice focuses primarily on environmental law and political compliance, two areas of critical importance in The Process, especially considering Florida’s unique challenges related to climate change mitigation and resilience.

But Revis doesn’t just stick to the boxes where he’s most comfortable, which may make him a particular force in Tallahassee. He also works with any client navigating complex legal issues in heavily regulated industries — and he gets results.

“Chad Revis is a true triple threat — exceptional legal mind, strong public policy chops and sharply-honed political acumen. His network is expansive and ever-growing, and his work ethic is inexhaustible. He is the textbook definition of a political rising star in Florida,” Vogel Group Principal Eileen Stuart said.

That’s saying a lot for a young associate who only just joined Holtzman Vogel in September.

And his superiors with the firm aren’t the only ones taking notice.

“I have watched Chad excel before, during, and after law school and attain every goal he set his sights on. His positive attitude, people skills, stellar work ethic, and intellect have been assets to the State of Florida as he worked at the Attorney General’s office and the Florida Supreme Court,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “I know he will continue to accomplish extraordinary things, and I am proud to have been a part of his professional journey.”

Originally from Ocala, Revis grew up in a self-made, small-business-owning

family, which likely contributed to his go-get ‘em drive.

It started early. Drawn to the agriculture industry, Revis got his start raising and showing animals at his county fair and served as a state officer for the Junior Florida Cattlemen’s Association, where he advocated on behalf of the state’s beef industry. Later, he took that advocacy with him to college where he volunteered on a number of campaigns, ultimately deciding to combine his interest in public policy with his drive for advocacy to attend law school at the Florida State University College of Law.

It paid off, landing him his first official start in Florida politics, as an executive staffer in Moody’s Office. Over three years, he worked on content creation for special projects and statewide initiatives, including Moody’s banner work on human trafficking and the opioid epidemic.

Revis’ résumé also includes work as a legal intern for the Republican Party of Florida and, after graduating law school and passing the Florida Bar, serving as a judicial law clerk for

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz

That brought Revis to Holtzman Vogel, where he will no doubt continue his meteoric rise.

“... he will continue to accomplish extraordinary things.”
– ashley moody

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Alex Santana

For the last decade, Alexander Santana has pushed himself toward politics like a man in a hurry to catch a train. In high school he secured his first internship, at the district office of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in his native Miami. He continued internships through college, in every semester at The Catholic University of America except the first one, and that was only because his parents insisted that he prove he could handle his course load before taking on more.

In early 2020, the year he graduated, Santana interned in the Washington office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who called Santana a “highly motivated, goal-oriented individual who works tirelessly to succeed in whatever tasks he undertakes.” His duties included conducting hourlong tours of the U.S. Capitol building, from the old Senate chamber to the Rotunda.

Santana, 25, spent a dizzying 2022 working for a Tallahassee lobbying firm, then the State University System of Florida and the Supreme Court of Florida, all while taking overloads to complete Florida State University’s Master of Science, Applied American Politics and Policy (MAPP) program in 11 months.

In November, the month before he graduated, he joined Floridian Partners as a government affairs coordinator, where he has quickly made himself indispensable. On any given day, he might be asked to track a bill or an entire issue, its historical origins and sponsors, the people it is designed to help and the primary arguments for or against its passage. He follows legislative committees and writes concise summaries of their work while also performing necessary administrative tasks, such as setting up meetings between clients and legislators, or group meetings.

“What impressed me was that he just has a maturity to his approach to what we do in the political world,” said Charles Dudley, the managing partner


for Floridian Partners. “He’s got what I call the ‘two ears, one mouth’ preferential approach, waiting until it’s appropriate to ask a question.”

That humble demeanor contrasts with a sterling résumé. After Ros-Letinen, Santana interned with U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, where his tours of the Capitol building started, and the U.S. Department of Justice, where he sometimes attended oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court.

He worked with the Department of the Treasury in the spring of 2020, arranging travel and proofreading briefing books for Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the office was responding to an accelerating COVID-19 pandemic. “Mr. Santana thrived, and performed with aplomb, during an unusually stressful period,” wrote David Dwyer, counselor to the undersecretary for international affairs, on Santana’s behalf.

Throughout his journey, Santana has used politics as a way to learn about government. “I have learned to like doing research,” he said, “to learn why is this issue important to the people sponsoring (a bill) or working on it? How does it make a change or a difference? If it’s something I’ve never researched before, I like to see what I can do to make myself better aware of it.”

When the time comes, he can delineate pending issues and the stakeholders clearly.

“He’s also a very good writer,” said Dudley, who serves as General Counsel and chief lobbyist for Florida Internet and Television. “While oral communication is critically important, as are the nuances with social media and other digital communications, there is still, in my opinion, a strong need for someone who is an effective communicator in the written form.”

It is not a stretch to believe the seeds of Santana’s curiosity about American democracy were planted before his 1997 birth in Miami. Both sets of grandparents emigrated from Cuba in the early 1960s, a fact he links to national pride and appreciation for the opportunities here.

“I think it’s important to recognize that and to honor that, and realize that they came from another place because there was something wrong with the previous homeland,” he said.

Santana’s paternal grandfather founded the small business his father still runs with an uncle. That taught him the American Dream is real. Santana attended Catholic University in part because it was in Washington, where he double-majored in political science and history. He studied early American history, the Civil War and the tumult culminating in the 1960s, all of which informs his perspective on today.

“When you watch TV,” he said, “every channel has its own point of view

and then some people are not willing to listen to other people, no matter what they say. But we just need to stay focused on what unites us as a country, our common values like a free press and freedom of speech.”

He turned on the television Jan. 6, 2021, expecting to see Vice President Mike Pence certify the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. The first thing that struck him was the sheer number of people milling about the Capitol building he loved.

“At first I was like, ‘How can they have all those people there for a tour or whatever?’” he said. His tours had been for small groups. Over the next few hours, he watched with dismay as that crowd smashed windows, vandalized congressional office space and attacked Capitol police.

“It was a very sad day,” he said. “I know we’ve had difficult times but that just wasn’t right.”

No disruptions, however, could deter Santana from his goal. He packed three straight semesters of work into a calendar year, joining Floridian Partners as his graduation approached. The 2023 Legislative Session lay just ahead, and he wanted to be able to give all his energies to that.

His attitude and preparation had made him an attractive candidate for the job, said Toby Philpot of Floridian Partners, himself a former “30 Under 30” Rising Star who specializes in health care.

“He’s got an impeccable résumé and that’s really what kind of drew us to him,” Philpot said. “If you look at that, I can’t think of another peer or contemporary his age who has embraced every opportunity to build a strong and diverse résumé. And all of those experiences pay dividends to the counsel and experience he provides to our client base.”

And so a decade of continuous effort resulted in a job with a prestigious firm, straight out of graduate school. The running man finally caught the train, with time to fasten his seatbelt and open a newspaper.

“Luckily, it all worked out,” he said.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 107
“He’s got what I call the ‘two ears, one mouth’ preferential approach, waiting until it’s appropriate to ask a question.” – charles dudley



Formost people, staying on top of policy opportunities for each of the state’s 67 counties would feel about as comfortable as a hand on a stove burner. Jeff Scala, who does that and much more for the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), has seized upon that kind of work like a kid with an Xbox.

Scala, FAC’s senior associate director of public policy, recently worked behind the scenes to design and pull off the first statewide broadband conference of this size and scale. Access 67 Broadband Summit, held in January in Ponte Vedra, drew around 250 conventioneers representing state and federal agencies, with a goal of connecting counties with the tools to apply for millions in federal grants.

“We put everybody in one room, under one roof at the same time, with nothing competing with it,” said Ginger Delegal, FAC’s Executive Director. “Jeff ended up really heading the programming, putting together the workshops and getting the moderators, which for someone of his age and

experience was a tall task. And he delivered with flying colors.”

Since joining the association as a policy analyst, he has delved into water and the environment, taxes, economic development, rural affairs — and, most recently, cyber security and other tech issues. “Maybe because I’m the millennial on the team,” Scala, 31, said.

Scala also serves as president of the Florida Association of Intergovernmental Relations, an association of city and county governmental relations professionals.

It almost didn’t happen that way. Scala grew up in Tarpon Springs, where his parents had moved from the Philadelphia area. For as long as he can remember, he always followed political news.

“I just always had this fascination,” he said. He chose Florida State University in part because it was in the capital city, majoring in political science. He learned the value of public service from his father, Howard Scala, who died when Jeff was 18. The elder Scala

“He comes in with a strategic mind and an appreciation for politics ...”
– ginger delegal

was also a poli-sci major who had once dreamed of being a political staffer.

“He switched to business,” Jeff Scala said. “I think that probably stuck with me a little bit during those years.”

With graduation looming, Scala gave his long-standing plans to go to law school another look. He decided on FSU’s MAPP program instead.

After graduating with a master’s in policy and politics, he spent the next several years working for legislators, either on campaigns or at the Capitol. His first post-degree job offer came in 2015.

Rewards came in dense, information-laden increments through five Legislative Sessions with then-Sen. Eleanor Sobel, then-Rep. Kristin Jacobs and Sen. Lauren Book. His first bill with Jacobs, for example, was about protecting a coral reef stretching from St. Lucie Inlet to Biscayne National Park, a 105mile stretch now named after Jacobs, who died of cancer in 2020.

FAC required him to add more layers of expertise. Through disparities revealed by the pandemic, broadband has become foundational for digital literacy and access to school, telehealth and readiness for future development. The Access 67 audience heard from keynoters Gary Bolton, president and chief executive officer of the Fiber Broadband Association, and Evan Feinman, who directs broadband equity, access and deployment for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Delegal, the executive director, praised his work ethic and acumen. “He comes in with a strategic mind and an appreciation for politics, and then how policies can work their way through and come to life. So he has a great combination of policy and strategy. And that’s rare. Usually you either find one or the other.”

“It’s about home rule,” Scala added. “Local government is the government closest to the people — and we here in Tallahassee represent those values in the halls of the Capitol.”

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 109


Twenty years have flown by thanks to great clients and a fantastic team. I’m looking forward to the future and building on the past.


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Pamela Sirota

Pamela Sirota grew up believing she would follow in her father’s footsteps.

The South Florida native imagined going to college, then on to law school before arriving at her destination working as an immigration lawyer.

But her dreams changed in high school, when she took a U.S. govern ment class. It sparked an interest she didn’t know she had — all of a sudden, she was fascinated with policy and the processes that forge it.

When she arrived at Florida State University the next year, she had her major picked out: political science. And, due to an unfortunate turn of events, she already knew how she wanted to put her future degree to use.

During her senior year in high school, Sirota’s father was diagnosed with stage three multiple myeloma, an aggressive blood cancer that required him to undergo a bone marrow trans plant the week after she graduated.


Government and policy were still her primary passions, but her father’s experience renewed her interest in health care. So, when she had the opportunity to become involved with FSU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, she didn’t think twice. It was through that research into workplace and academic accommodations for individuals with disabilities she discovered that, well, health care policy is kind of a big deal — the kind careers are made of.

Heading into her junior year, her father died due to complications from his second bone marrow transplant. A few weeks later, fate handed her a way to turn her grief into action — as she was scrolling through internship opportunities, she happened upon a posting from the Moffitt Cancer Center Government Relations Team.

Once again, Sirota didn’t think twice. Once they saw her application,

Moffit’s government affairs team didn’t either.

That internship soon turned into a permanent position — one she excels at, according to Jamie Wilson, Moffitt’s Vice President of Government Relations.

“After so many years in this process, I know it’s not every day that you find someone so young who truly has what it takes to succeed in the field,” Wilson said. “As our intern, Pamela’s work ethic and personal story left me so impressed that I knew I had to hire her. She’s a huge asset to our team and I have no doubt she will go very far in her career.”

Sirota started working as a Legislative Affairs Coordinator during a period of rapid growth at Moffitt. The state’s premier cancer facility is in the process of building a medical community that will feature 16 million square feet of space — a bigger footprint than Downtown Tampa — all dedi-

cated to researching new and better ways to fight cancer.

State support is crucial, and Moffitt needs everyone to be on their “A” game. Sirota has been and continues to be, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by Moffitt’s State Legislative Affairs Director, Ellen Anderson.

“From the day I met Pamela, I knew she had the grit needed to be successful in the legislative process,” Anderson said. “Not only is her personal story a firebrand, but her self-determination to learn the process is very admirable. I’m so happy to have her as part of our Moffitt Government Relations team.”

Maybe Sirota isn’t brushing up on logic questions in an LSAT prep class or sending cover letters to the T14, but there’s no doubt her father would be beaming, too.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 113
“... I knew she had the grit needed to be successful in the legislative process. Not only is her personal story a firebrand, but her selfdetermination to learn the process is very admirable...” – ellen anderson



To hear Alex Smith tell it, it almost doesn’t feel like work. The Pensacola native landed a job last year in his hometown, helping people he grew up with, no two days the same.

Smith, 23, is the special assistant to Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves, who took office in November having won 51% of the vote, just enough to avoid a runoff in a four-person race. Smith managed the campaign, and is now the right-hand man for Reeves, 38, a former sports reporter and the city’s youngest Mayor in more than a century.

“He has said, ‘If you asked me (in the past) if I would be Mayor, I would have said oh my gosh, no way,’” Smith said, quoting his boss with an enthusiasm that mirrors his own. He hadn’t planned on getting into government or politics.

The son of two speech therapists who run an outpatient clinic, Smith was originally trying to decide between law and criminology. But he was soaking up details on the evening news, and always turned into Presidential Elections as if they were the Super Bowl. On a family trip to Washington, Smith — a third grader at the time — stunned his dad by identifying three Congressmen walking by them at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

He took courses in criminology and political science at Florida State, ultimately majoring in the latter. Smith interned for Rep. Alex Andrade, and he thrived on the pace and the excitement of the Legislative Session.

“I loved the Session,” he said. “You’ll be watching a committee about one bill, and another bill starts blowing up on your phone.”

On a deeper level, taking phone calls

allowed him to connect residents in crisis to services built for that purpose. Experiences like that stayed with him and are why he says, “I think government gets a bad rap.”

Those opportunities led to fulltime work with Tripp Scott, a Tallahassee law firm. He stayed nearly 18 months as a senior legislative director, including chunks of his junior and senior years at FSU.

“It didn’t matter what you threw at him,” said Robby Holroyd, a Tripp Scott governmental relations consultant and a former “30 Under 30” honoree for Florida Politics. “He was able to excel and at a constant level, whatever we gave to him.”

Smith graduated cum laude in 2021, and joined the Reeves mayoral campaign in January 2022. He left Tripp Scott in March to devote all of his time


to the campaign, which he was managing, then led the transition team after the victory. He turned down an offer to return to the law firm.

“We made our push to bring him back over here,” Holroyd said. “But I know he’s doing everything he wants to do back in his hometown of Pensacola.”

Smith was the rare star this year who volunteered how uncomfortable he felt being the subject of a magazine story, a sentiment belied by an easy demeanor and verbal fluency.

“I don’t want to be the center of attention,” he said. “My job is to make my boss look good, to make sure he’s pre-

pared and is going to have a great day.”

He prefers to credit his parents and his brother for supporting his career decisions. Reeves pushed through the first 100 days as Mayor with the same energy that distinguished his campaign — repainting downtown, expanding the airport and trying to position the area as a hub for rail travel, a move that could attract billions in federal funds.

For now, Smith can hardly believe his luck to be working in his hometown, relaxing on its pristine beaches. There are other places too. Smith enjoys the occasional getaway to Nashville to visit some college friends.

Someone told him not long ago that it’s important to learn when to turn your phone off and just chill, advice he has tried to take to heart.

On the other hand, he got to his current position through his accessibility, so the phone doesn’t stay off for long. People will be calling, Holroyd is sure of it.

“I just have no doubt that he’s going to be doing incredible things as he continues to grow in this process,” Holroyd said. “Whether it’s staying on the official side or coming back over to the lobbying side. He’s going to bring a lot to the table.”

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“He was able to excel and at a constant level, whatever we gave to him.”
– robby holroyd

Derick Tabertshofer

Derick Tabertshofer, the Legislative Liaison for Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Florida, took that role after working for several lawmakers in the Legislature. It’s safe to say his career in The Process is prospering, landing him on this year’s list of Rising Stars.

A Cape Coral native, Tabertshofer eventually moved to Tampa to attend the University of South Florida (USF). He describes his parents as “apolitical,” but recalled that his grandparents talked politics with him “every chance they got.”

“I truly got involved in politics when I moved to Tampa to attend USF,” Tabertshofer said. “I never thought I would get involved in politics and it sort of fell into my lap. While attending USF I had the opportunity to volunteer on a campaign and volunteering eventually turned into a full-time job as a legislative aide.”

His first job was working with former Rep. Shawn Harrison. He later worked for then-Rep. Manny Díaz, now the state’s Education Commissioner, where he met Danny Martinez, now his colleague at AFP-Florida.

Martinez calls Tabertshofer’s feedback “invaluable” to his own productivity when Martinez joined AFP-Florida. Martinez said Tabertshofer’s success stems from his ability to lobby for a policy, but not come off as a “traditional lobbyist.”

“He is a natural policy wonk and has the passion and vision to be our best resource in Florida,” Martinez said. “Our Florida team is better right now with Derick and he is using his talent to make others better.”

Tabertshofer also worked under current Rep. Traci Koster. And that experi-


ence in the Legislature was critical to Tabertshofer’s later success.

“The political process is very complex,” he explained, “and I am thankful to have had the opportunities that I did that gave me the ability to be where I am today.”

That job with Rep. Koster is where AFP-Florida State Director Skylar Zander first crossed paths with Tabertshofer, and Zander has welcomed Tabertshofer to the team.

“Derick’s steadfast dedication to our craft is rivaled by hardly anyone I’ve ever worked with; he’s hardworking and dedicated to getting the job done,” Zander said. “He has increased our ability to understand key pieces of policy and has put us in a position to successfully advocate our position.”

Tabertshofer is slated to take on major responsibilities heading into the next campaign cycle.

“Derick is also going to be a major

factor on ideas and strategy for our 2024 Session and action cycle,” Martinez said. “He truly enjoys the legislative and campaign process and puts in the effort that our organization thrives on.”

As Tabertshofer has gone from an apolitical family to a dedicated member of The Process, he said noble


vision to

aims keep him moving forward as his career progresses.

“Having the ability to give back really motivates me,” Tabertshofer said. “I am in the unique position to be the voice for those that don’t have the ability to speak for themselves.”

Go explore. Go visit monuments and mountains and make the mundane magical with adventure. Go forth to find new places and spaces. Go on to travel again. Because we’re still here—ready, willing and able to get you anywhere you want to go.

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“He is a natural
wonk and has the passion and
be our best resource in Florida.”
– danny martinez


Courtney Thomas is often referred to as a walking billboard for the City of Tallahassee, a description fitting her role as Director of External Affairs for the city.

In her role, she leads community and constituent relations within the

Office of the Mayor.

Thomas is Tallahassee. She was born and raised in Florida’s capital city, she earned her undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s in applied American politics and policy at Florida State University, and now teaches at FSU

as an adjunct professor.

The Tallahassee Democrat last year named her one of Tallahassee’s 25 Women You Need to Know.

Not only does Thomas wield power as a member of Mayor John Dailey’s executive staff, she’s cultivating and forging a new generation of leadership to keep Tallahassee on a sustainable path to progress.

She mentors young women in the city through Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Leon County Chapter of the Charmettes. Last year, she co-hosted AKA Day at the Capitol, an annual legislative advocacy event.

Through her day job, she spearheaded an initiative to install free period product dispensers in City Hall and city community centers. Tallahassee is one of the only cities in the nation to provide free menstrual products for residents, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

And Thomas gives back in other creative ways, too. After earning her certification as a yoga instructor during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas began teaching yoga classes downtown. But she doesn’t pocket the proceeds. Instead, she directs them to a number of nonprofits she supports, such as the Girl Flo Project, Second Harvest and Capital Tea. She also donates proceeds to a breast cancer support group at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

Thomas’ past professional work includes service as a legislative assistant for the Florida Dental Association, work on former U.S. Rep. Al Lawson’s 2016 congressional campaign, and a stint as a constituent services representative for Lawson and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham

At just 32 years old, it’s clear Thomas has plenty more to add to her résumé. Might that include running for office herself someday? It might. In 2020, Thomas participated in the She Should Run Virtual Cohort program, which aims to increase the number of women considering running for public office by providing workshops, courses, resources and networking to women looking to take the leap.


Nikki Whiting

In some ways, Nikki Whiting was born ready. Her Cuban American family has experienced both political repression and a hard-won prosperity. In her 30 years, she has studied hard, chosen carefully and stayed current with world events in the face of fragmenting economies abroad and divisions at home. She has proven an adept learner and a clear speaker, traits that have led to at least two large steps upward, most recently to her role as Communications Director for the Florida Department of Health.

Being chief spokeswoman for such a critical Department with COVID-19 still afoot does not intimidate her. Neither did the duties of her previous job, which included advising Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez on issues related to the Western Hemisphere and their impact on the state.


“I always come with the attitude of, you know, ‘Put me in, coach,’” Whiting said.

Those coaches have been quick to oblige, starting with U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban American elected to Congress. Whiting interned for Ros-Lehtinen on her way to earning a bachelor’s in English at the University of Florida. She returned for two additional years, this time on Capitol Hill, working as Ros-Lehtinen’s legislative assistant and Press Secretary.

“I had an absolute ball,” Whiting said of the popular Republican, who had chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee and easily won re-election in a predominantly Democratic district. “Ileana was the most enthusiastic member of Congress. She approached everything with enthusiasm, whether on foreign affairs or talking to a constituent. It was a lot of fun just standing alongside her and amplifying what she was doing.”

In 2017, Ros-Lehtinen announced she would retire after 38 years in legislative service. Whiting stayed on, but in the meantime enrolled in a graduate public administration program at the University of Miami. By January 2019, she was midway to a master’s degree and handling communications for Esteban Bovo, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner.

“It was a fun two years,” Whiting said. “He was a man of the people, with blue collar values and a servant’s heart.”

Bovo entered the Miami-Dade County mayoral race in 2020 and lost. “I was devastated,” Whiting said. But

before long, another opportunity surfaced. It always seemed to work that way, that even a tough loss hid something else just ahead, something better than she could have planned.

Her family history and that of Miami’s Cuban community had prepared her for deeper disappointments. Whiting’s mother had a good relationship with her own father, a police officer in Cuba. But she didn’t get to grow up with him. Authorities arrested him shortly after Whiting’s mother was born in Miami in 1960 on charges of plotting against Castro’s government. He remained imprisoned for 20 years while her maternal grandmother played the piano and sang to make ends meet.

“My mom didn’t meet him until she was 20 or 21,” Whiting said. “It’s those stories that motivate me to preserve the freedom that we have, and advocate for it as well.”

As a child, she was mesmerized by the monthslong standoff over 7-yearold Elian Gonzalez, whose mother had drowned in the migration from Cuba and whose father wanted custody. Nikki was just a year older than the boy, almost to the day.

“I said, ‘Mom, who is that lady going to Elian’s house and playing with him?’” she said. “She was like, ‘Oh, that’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’. That was really kind of the transformative moment, weirdly enough, when I put it into perspective.”

Whiting is quick to note enormous variety within Hispanic populations. Still, she saw Hispanic voters moving toward the GOP before pollsters did.

“I saw Miami-Dade County was always going to turn,” she said. “No one owns any voting bloc or should ever get complacent about it.”

Meanwhile, no sooner had her candidate lost that county’s mayoral race in a runoff before a plum opportunity showed up. Whiting gained much from her two years as senior adviser to Nuñez, the Lieutenant Governor, who she admired because “faith, family and freedom are the values that inform her life and have made her who she is.”

Stephanie Smith, a TECO Energy vice president of state and regional affairs, saw the way Whiting absorbed the demands of that position and performed at a high level.

“She is extremely savvy when it comes to the political process,” Smith said. “She is a fiercely loyal person, very strong in her convictions. She is very well read, very smart. She does her homework and just carries herself on a different level.”

That kind of talent would likely carry Whiting much further, Smith figured. It already has.

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“I always come with the attitude of, you know, ‘Put me in, coach.’”

Witbracht Rachel

In a way, our final honoree has been preparing for her current responsibilities her whole life. She didn’t know it, but growing up in a military family can do that for you.

Rachel Witbracht has moved quickly since her final semester of undergraduate school, during which she helped manage the successful campaign of her hometown state House candidate. In the final months, and with Alex Andrade, of Pensacola, comfortably ahead, she joined Rep. Frank White as District Secretary during his run for Attorney General.

White lost that race to Ashley Moody, and Witbracht returned to Rep. Andrade, who had campaigned in part on “pro-military” values. Thirteen months later, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, who chaired the State Affairs Committee and would soon chair Commerce, lured Witbracht onto his own staff, a move that benefited both the Representative and the aide.

“She’s a rock star,” said Ingoglia, now a Senator. “She was with me when I was in leadership, and being in that position offered me the opportunity to carry a lot of very substantive bills with a lot of impact on the state of Florida. And she was right there with me doing the research, making sure the language was right. Quite frankly, I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Today, Witbracht serves as Director of Government Relations for the University of West Florida, her alma mater. At 27, she is the youngest member on the cabinet of President Martha D. Saunders by a few decades. She acts as the university’s lobbyist while contracting with outside lobbyists and consultants, contributing to strategic planning and much more.

“In just a few short years, she has really grown,” said lobbyist Rich Heffley, who, with


partner Kelly Horton, has seen that evolution from aide to managing external relations for a university. “The fact that she has pre-existing relationships with legislators, with staff, with lobbyists and with the university folks makes her particularly valuable.”

Witbracht believes her formative years prepared her for Tallahassee’s quick shifts and redrawn allegiances. “I spent my entire childhood moving from place to place,” she said, “and learning how to adapt. So I think that (state politics) wasn’t quite as much a challenge for me, just because I am so used to having to learn new experiences, and where to fit in and how to pivot to get things done, no matter what the circumstances are.”

The daughter of a Coast Guard engineering officer and a teacher, Witbracht was born in Key West. Her father’s duties would take the family to Jacksonville, also to California and Hawaii. Sometimes after school, her mother took her to a pristine beach near Base Honolulu.

“Those are some of my most cherished memories,” she said.

They resettled in Pensacola when Rachel was around 10, this time for

the long term. A peripatetic childhood yielded to a cozy mooring spot with an underrated beach. The University of West Florida was just 20 minutes away. There, she double-majored in journalism and legal studies, edited UWF’s chapter of Her Campus, an online magazine for female college students, and directed government affairs for the Student Government Association.

On an SGA trip to Tallahassee, Witbracht pitched causes alongside her peers and entertained a new thought.

“It dawned on me that, ‘Wow, this might be really fun to do in real life,’” she recalled.

That journey started almost immediately and then picked up speed. By November 2019, she was joining Ingoglia’s office and preparing for grad school at Florida State University. “I got to work on a lot of the Governor’s priorities,” she said. “It was an honor for me to be able to collaborate with people at such a high level who know policy so well.”

With an eye for exactitude, she helped refine legislation to its clearest elements. For example, a professional deregulation bill she worked on in 2019 (HB 27) was at least a hundred sections thick, relaxing licensure requirements

critics saw as anticompetitive (say, for out-of-state landscape architects who were licensed in other states) and repealing others altogether (auctioneers, boxing time keepers, talent agents who only work with adults).

“It was rewarding to work on policy that uplifted our industry workers and made employment more accessible for Floridians,” she said.

Along the way, she learned to master subjects she had known little about before they came up in the House.

“Rachel loved diving into complex policy issues, which is one of those things, I think, that set her apart,” nowSen. Ingoglia said. “The bigger the task, the more focused and better she got.”

Witbracht undertook this work while completing FSU’s Master of Applied American Politics and Policy program. In September 2021 she returned to the University of West Florida, now as Director of Government Relations.

Her accomplishments since include helping to secure last year a $6 million increase in UWF’s base budget. The school, which has an enrollment of around 14,000 students, had not previously seen an increase since 2016.

“That will go a long way to ensuring students’ success is at the top of our priorities,” she said.

She’s glad to be back on campus as a staffer, now advocating for students. “The biggest thing for me right now,” she said, “is that I got my start in politics at the University of West Florida. And now I’m doing this professionally for the university. So it feels like a full-circle moment for me, that I get to effect some good for a school that I know is amazing, that has amazing teachers and administrators and does a lot of good for the region.”

There is another kind of preparation, an ongoing one, words from Aristotle she uses to challenge herself: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

She likes to spend downtime reading or listening to 1970s music. Pensacola Beach, with its sugary white sand and emerald waters, is a good place to bring a blanket and a book.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 123
“It was rewarding to work on policy that uplifted our industry workers and made employment more accessible for Floridians.”
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DIAGNOSIS: in Florida health care politics The top influencers

Often disregarded as overly wonky and completely unsexy, health care can be a glossed-over part of Florida politics. But it is one of the most complicated, important and controversial areas of policy in the Sunshine State. Whether it’s on who should qualify for Medicaid, whether kids should get access to gender-affirming care or how doctors get reimbursed, the debates can sometimes spill from boardrooms to dining rooms, even if some of the nuance doesn’t always translate.

That’s where the state’s health care influencers come in. They’re lawmakers and lobbyists, regulators and doctors. And together, they help determine where and how Floridians access care; how much they pay for it; and, in the case of this year, if they should even be allowed to have it.

This is a group of influencers that, in recent years, has seen it all. They’ve navigated a pandemic filled with questions about masks and vaccines. They’ve waded into the murky moral grounds of transgender care. And they’ve tackled a legal framework that pits insurance providers against lawyers.

Here are the lawmakers, lobbyists, CEOs, nonprofit leaders, medical school deans and others who make it all happen.

Mike Anway


Anway is the regional senior director of state advocacy promoting patient access to medicines. Prior to that, Anway served as the director of federal affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). He was previously the head of former Gov.  Rick Scott’s Health and Human Services Unit in the Office of Policy and Budget.

Steve Bahmer

Leading Age Florida

Bahmer is the President and CEO of LeadingAge Florida, a statewide nursing home association that represents a continuum of care providers. Bahmer is a member of the board of directors for LeadingAge at the national level. He also serves on the committee for the Florida Palliative Care Coalition and is a member of the University of Central Florida Senior Living Management advisory board.

Doug Bell

Metz Husband & Daughton

A lawyer, Bell is among the legal Florida elite earning AV® Preeminent distinction, the highest available mark for professional excellence from Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Ratings. His lengthy list of clients includes the American Lung Association, BioFlorida, Inc., the Bristol Myers Squibb Company, Centene Corporation, Curaleaf Florida, LLC, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Inc.

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Travis Blanton

Johnson & Blanton

After working for the Republican Party of Florida, the Department of Elder Affairs and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), Blanton joined Johnson and Associates in 2002, which evolved into Johnson & Blanton in 2005. Among Blanton’s many clients are Advent Health, Baycare, Florida Community Care, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA), the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists and Moffitt Cancer Center.

Ron Book

Ronald L. Book P.A.

Book is one of the most successful lobbyists in Tallahassee, representing a broad array of interests before the Legislature and executive agencies. His clients include the North and South Broward Hospital District, the Public Health Trust/ Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Miami Project/Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, Miami Jewish Health Systems and VITAS Healthcare Corp.

Bo Boulenger

Baptist Health South Florida

Boulenger is the president and CEO of Baptist Health South Florida. As such, he is responsible for Baptist Health’s 12 hospitals and more than 200 outpatient facilities and physician practices, as well as the Miami Cancer Institute, the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, the Miami Neuroscience Institute, the Lynn Cancer Institute and the Marcus Neuroscience Institute. Boulenger also is Baptist Health South Florida incident commander for all of its emergency operations.

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Jason Brodeur

Florida Senate

Sen. Brodeur is the go-to person in the Senate for the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration on health care issues. He is the primary sponsor of pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) legislation this Session. Brodeur is also vice chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee and is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services. Brodeur served in the House for eight years prior to being elected to the Senate.

Audrey Brown

Florida Association of Health Plans

Brown has advocated on behalf of Medicaid, Medicare and private health plans for nearly a decade as president and CEO of the Florida Association of Health Plans (FAHP). Brown has over the years helped beat back legislation managed care plan providers said would increase health care costs. In 2020, Brown and FAHP lobbied to pass a law that prohibited air ambulance services from “balance billing” patients.

Melanie Brown-Woofter

Florida Behavioral Health Association

Brown-Woofter is the president and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association. She works to increase Medicaid funds for behavioral health. In 2022, Brown-Woofter lobbied to increase state Medicaid funding for community mental health by more than $100 million. She previously worked at AHCA as the Medicaid Managed Care Bureau Chief.

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Colleen Burton

Florida Senate

Burton chairs the Senate Health Policy Committee, the first committee of reference for most health care-related bills. That makes Burton the gatekeeper of most substantive health care policy issues the upper chamber will consider over the next two years. Burton also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, as well as the Banking and Insurance and Fiscal Policy committees.

Christa Calamas

Florida House

Calamas has guided Florida health care policy as a legislative staff member for a little more than 16 years. In that time, she has written new health law on issues ranging from abortion to end-of-life care, and from telehealth to a ban on transgender health care for minors. In addition to working for the legislative branch, Calamas served a seven-month stint as AHCA Secretary and was the assistant general counsel to former Gov. Jeb Bush during his second term as Governor.

Chris Chaney

The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners

Chaney catapulted into the Legislative Process after working on Scott’s first campaign for Governor and then on Scott’s transition team. From there, Chaney was named the Legislative Affairs Director at AHCA, which made him the point man on all policy and appropriations. Now his clients include the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants, Centene Corporation, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the FHA and Health Network One (HN1).

Mike Cherniga

Greenberg Traurig

Cherniga is a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig and a member of the firm’s Health Care & FDA Practice. His work spans the health care spectrum on regulatory compliance issues, ranging from the federal Stark Law and similar state physician self-referral prohibitions to HIPAA. He also advises clients on government payor requirements as well as insurance and managed care reimbursement requirements. He’s also an expert in health care transactional law as well as corporate health care regulatory issues.

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Chris Clark

Florida Medical Association

Clark became CEO of the important group that represents Florida’s physicians a year ago after first joining the organization in 2014. But before joining the FMA, he had spent years working for some of the state’s most wellknown Republicans, including Gov. Bush. He also served as the Chief of Staff for then-Senate President Don Gaetz. In 2018, he was part of the DeSantis transition team following the Governor’s first statewide election win.

Gus Corbella

Greenberg Traurig

Corbella has staked out a ubiquitous presence in the halls of the Capitol for more than two decades. Corbella has been with Greenberg Traurig since 2004 and is now senior director of government law and practice policy for the firm’s Tallahassee office. Before he joined the firm, he worked as Chief of Staff for then-Senate President Jim King and worked as staff director in House and Senate majority offices.

John Couris

Tampa General Hospital

Couris is the president and CEO of Florida Health Sciences Center, which comprises a number of health care organizations including Tampa General Hospital. Under Couris’ leadership, Tampa General opened the Global Emerging Diseases Institute (GEDI), a new facility and the first of its kind in Florida devoted to clinical care, cutting-edge research, and education for emerging infectious diseases. Couris, who joined the hospital in 2017, is spearheading the largest master plan in its history: a $550 million capital commitment to bring more advanced technology and innovative care to its patients.

Jim DeBeaugrine

RFJ Governmental Consultants

DeBeaugrine has more than 30 years of Florida legislative and government experience, 19 of them spent on the House Appropriations Committee staff and another approximately four as the director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). DeBeaugrine has earned a reputation as the go-to lobbyist when it comes to developmental disability policy in the state.

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Mark Delegal

Delegal | Aubuchon Consulting

Delegal is the co-founder (along with Josh Aubuchon) of the public policy and government relations firm Delegal | Aubuchon Consulting. Delegal, a lawyer and lobbyist, focuses his lobbying efforts on all lines of insurance and recently backed efforts to expand wrongful death lawsuits against physicians and hospitals. Delegal also helped secure $30 million in health care research funding for Florida’s three academic cancer centers.

Hayden Dempsey

Greenberg Traurig

Dempsey is Chair of the Florida Government Law and Policy Practice at the firm, and he regularly represents clients on Medicaid and health care regulatory issues. He previously worked for four Governors, including as special counsel for Gov. Scott. Dempsey also worked for Gov. Bush and started his professional career working for former Gov. Lawton Chiles and former Gov. Bob Martinez.

Aimee Diaz Lyon

Metz Husband & Daughton

Lyon, a lawyer and lobbyist, represents an array of health care clients from the dental hygienists and physical therapy associations to Centene Health Plan. Lyon previously served as director of governmental affairs for the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association and honed her legislative chops by working as staff for the Florida House.

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Liz Dudek

Greenberg Traurig

With more than 40 years of state government experience it’s no wonder Dudek was hired as the director of health care affairs for Greenberg Traurig’s Tallahassee office. Dudek knows more about the certificate of need (CON) program than anybody, having been in charge of it for years. As AHCA Secretary, she oversaw the first procurement of the state’s Medicaid program and helped shift Medicaid hospital reimbursement from a cost-based, per diem system to one that relies on diagnostic related groups, or DRGs.

Leslie Dughi

Metz Husband & Daughton

Dughi has been lobbying the Legislature for more than 25 years and has made a name for herself in the health care, health insurance and workers’ compensation fields. Dughi’s clients include Gilead Sciences, the Florida Dental Hygienists Association, the Florida Physical Therapy Association, the Florida Psychiatry Society and the Florida Society of Ambulatory Surgical Centers.

Cody Farrill

Gov. DeSantis’ Office

Farrill serves as the Director of Cabinet Affairs. But the former Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff at AHCA and the Department of Management Services, respectively, has emerged as the health care point man for the DeSantis administration. This Session, Farrill is taking the lead on shepherding Desantis’ PBM legislation across the finish line.

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Samantha Ferrin

Simply Healthcare, an affiliate of Elevance Health

Ferrin was named lead lobbyist for one of the largest Medicaid managed care plans, Simply Healthcare, in September 2022. Prior to joining the health plan, she was with the Greenberg Traurig law firm, where she focused on, among other things, health care policy and government procurement. Ferrin also served as Interim Secretary of the Florida Lottery.

Dr. Henri Ford

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Ford is the Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, the oldest medical school in the state. He currently serves as chair of the AAMC Council of Deans. In October, Ford will be named president of the American College of Surgeons (he currently is serving as president-elect). Ford is an internationally renowned pediatric surgeon who, in 2015, completed the first successful conjoined twins’ separation in Haiti, where he was born and lived before immigrating to the United States.

Sam Garrison

Florida House

Garrison is the man with the health care spending plan in the House. Garrison, a partner with the Bradley, Garrison & Komando, P.A. law firm, was first elected in November 2020. After just one term in the House, he was named chair of the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Garrison, a former prosecutor in the State Attorney’s office, helped establish Clay County’s first rape crisis center.

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Pat Geraghty

Guidewell Mutual Holding Corporation, Florida Blue and GuideWell Group, Inc.

Geraghty is the president and CEO of the Guidewell Holding Corporation, which includes in its portfolio, among other things, Florida Blue and Guidewell Group Inc., companies for which Geraghty also serves as president and CEO. Florida Blue is the largest insurer in the state.

Carol Gormley

Independent Living Systems

Prior to being named the Vice President of Government Affairs for Independent Living Systems, Gormley was the health care whisperer shaping Florida health policy for decades, first in Bush’s office of planning and budgeting and then in the Legislature. She most recently was Chief of Staff for former House Speaker Jose Oliva, helping him pass a sweeping health care agenda that included eliminating Certificate of Need regulations.

Jan Gorrie

Ballard Partners

The amount of work Gorrie accomplishes by 9 a.m. rivals that of the U.S. Army. Lucky for Florida, she has focused her efforts on educating the future workforce by lobbying on behalf of the state’s medical schools, as well as ways to bring additional Medicaid funding to improve reimbursement for the faculty medical plans at various colleges of medicine and for safety net hospitals. Gorrie, a lawyer, is the managing partner of Ballard Partners’ Tampa Office.

The top influencers in Florida health care politics

Susan Harbin Alford

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Gov. DeSantis has made increasing cancer funding a top priority since Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis’ battle against the disease. That focus is good news for Harbin Alford, senior director of government relations for ACS-CAN. Prior to working for ACS-CAN, she worked for the Florida Association of Counties for eight years.

Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos

Florida Healthy Kids Corp.

Haridopolos was a practicing physician seeing 2,000 patients annually in Melbourne until recently taking a sabbatical to care for her father as he battles cancer. She also is the Chair of the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation board of directors, the panel in charge of administering the Florida KidCare program.

Gayle Harrell

Florida Senate

Sen. Harrell has been a Florida lawmaker for more than 20 years. She served 16 years as a member of the House and is in her second Senate term. A former health care administrator, she managed her late husband Dr. James E. Harrell’s OB-GYN practice. Harrell was the founder of the Breast Imaging Center. She is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, which makes her the chief health care budget writer for the Senate.

Shevaun Harris

Department of Children and Families

Secretary Harris’ agency is at the epicenter of the state’s efforts to return its Medicaid program back to pre-pandemic operations and remove 1.7 million people from the rolls. Harris helped First Lady DeSantis launch Hope Florida, a program that encourages community involvement on the path toward economic self-sufficiency. Harris worked at AHCA for nearly 20 years before being tapped to head DCF.

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Joe Anne Hart

Florida Dental Association

Hart has been the face of the Florida Dental Association in Tallahassee for more than 20 years, championing access to dental care for Floridians in order to reduce visits to hospital emergency rooms for dental emergencies. She also has worked to increase the number of dentists in the state, securing passage of a dental loan repayment program in 2019 that would provide 10 dentists willing to work in medically underserved areas up to $50,000 a year for five years to repay student loans.

Allegra Jaros

Wolfson Children’s Hospital

Jaros joined Wolfson Children’s Hospital as president in January and will continue to advance its mission of improving the health of the region’s children through patient- and family-centered care, education, research and child advocacy. Prior to joining Wolfson, Jaros was the president of John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, and was responsible for the design and development of the $272 million Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Brian Jogerst

WayPoint Strategies

His health care and lobbying roots run deep. Jogerst, co-founder of WayPoint Strategies, wasn’t far removed from high school when he worked for former Gov. Martinez’s Legislative Affairs Team. Jogerst launched his private lobbying career in 1992, joining the FHA. Today, his clients include Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, FHCA and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, among others.

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Jeff Johnson

AARP Florida

For the past 13 years, Johnson has been the state director for AARP Florida, an association that has 2.8 million members and more than 3,000 volunteers. AARP Florida has long been a leading voice on nursing home care in the state and focuses on aging in place by promoting “livable communities.”

Jon Johnson

Johnson & Blanton

Managing Partner at Johnson & Blanton, Johnson’s entrance into politics was through the Republican Party of Florida, where he worked as deputy finance director when he was only 20 years old. It’s been nonstop for the Florida GOP and Johnson since. Johnson worked for Gov. Martinez, overseeing professional boards at the then-Department of Professional Regulation. He worked with the FMA after leaving government. Today, Johnson focuses much of his attention on health care, managed care, workers compensation, professional regulation and insurance.

Mike Jones

Molina Healthcare of Florida

Jones has been at the helm of Molina Healthcare of Florida, serving as its president, since 2018. The managed care plan offers access to Medicaid managed medical assistance, specialty and long-term care offerings to more than 181,000 members.

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In a dynamic state like Florida, there are many paths for growing your business. Connecting with industry inuencers, policy makers and business leaders is a crucial part of the process. Gunster’s diverse team of lobbyists and lawyers have deep experience making the right connections and identifying opportunities for our clients. We use our experience and credibility to represent clients before the exec utive and legislative branches of the state government. With more than 260 attorneys and consultants in 13 offices across Florida, Gunster is statewide and state wise.

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Back Row: Ronald Brisé, Timothy Stapleton, Kevin Cleary Front Row: Sha'Ron James, Corrine Maro, Julie Fess, and Larry Williams

HCA Healthcare of Florida

As Vice President of State Government Affairs, Kinney lobbies on behalf of the system’s 49 hospitals, 40-plus freestanding emergency departments and 30 ambulatory surgery centers. HCA Healthcare of Florida also has 134 graduate medical education programs that help train the state’s future physician workforce.

Natalie Kelly

Florida Association of Managing Entities

Kelly has more than 35 years of lobbying experience on behavioral health issues, including the last nine as the CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities, a statewide organization that oversees the safety net providers of Florida’s behavioral health system. Prior to joining the Association of Managing Entities as its CEO in 2014, Kelly worked for the Alzheimer’s Association for 17 years.

Dr. Colleen G. Koch

University of Florida College of Medicine

It may not be the oldest medical school in the state, but it’s arguably the most prestigious, and Dr. Koch is its first female dean. She is leading the college while it implements a strategic plan with seven pillars: education; research; patient care; people; diversity, inclusion and health care equity; system integration; and value. To boost its education and research opportunities, the college launched a new AI curriculum.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo

Florida Surgeon General

Gov. DeSantis tapped Dr. Ladapo to become the state Surgeon General in 2021. Ladapo, who previously worked at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) medical school, has been highly critical of federal COVID-19 policy and a vocal skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines. He also pushed for a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Ladapo earned his medical degree from Harvard along with a doctorate in health policy. Before he was at UCLA, he was a faculty member in the Department of Population Health at New York University School of Medicine and worked in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Nathan Landsbaum

Sunshine Health, a subsidiary of Centene

Landsbaum was appointed Sunshine Health Plan president and CEO in September 2021 after serving for four years as the CEO for Home State Health in Missouri. Landsbaum began his work in Florida days before Sunshine Health merged with Staywell Health Plan, making it the largest Medicaid managed care organization in the state in terms of enrollment. In addition to operating in the Medicaid market, the health plan provides benefits to people in Florida’s welfare system, as well as medically complex children.

Dr. Alma Littles

FSU College of Medicine

Dr. Littles was named interim dean of the Florida State University College of Medicine in February 2023. Prior to being named interim dean, she was the senior associate dean for medical and academic affairs, leading the college’s accreditation efforts and its community-based education model. Little’s sterling reputation extends beyond the medical school. She is also secretary of the FMA and is a delegate to the AMA.

Dr. Charles Lockwood

Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida

Applications to the USF College of Medicine have increased by more than 40% in the eight years since Lockwood has been dean. The median MCAT score has increased from the 78th to the 95th percentile; the mean GPA among students entering the program is up; and the percentage of students recruited from traditionally underrepresented groups increased to 18% in 2022. The medical school dean and executive vice president of USF Health, an OB-GYN, is credited with leading a research team that discovered fetal fibronectin (fFN), the first biochemical predictor of prematurity.

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Matthew A. Love

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

Love joined Nicklaus as CFO in 2018. He was appointed interim president in 2019 and accepted the position as president and CEO in July 2020. A 309-bed hospital, Nicklaus is the only specialty hospital exclusively for children in South Florida and is home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States.

Frank & Tracy Mayernick

The Mayernick Group

The Mayernicks represent the Florida Health Care Association, the state’s largest statewide nursing home association, and Florida HCA Healthcare, the hospital system with the largest network of doctors, nurses and care sites in the state. The duo also represents Alkermes, a Dublin, Ireland-based pharmaceutical company that manufactures VIVITROL. Unlike other treatments for opioid addictions, such as methadone, VIVITROL isn’t a narcotic. The drug, which must be ordered and administered by a physician, is an extended release formulation of naltrexone proven to be effective, but it’s expensive.

Mary Mayhew

Florida Hospital Association

Mayhew left a position in Washington with the Donald Trump administration to accept a post in the DeSantis administration instead. As AHCA Secretary, Mayhew helped the Governor in the early stages of the COVID-19 response. She stepped down in September 2020 and accepted a position as president and CEO of the FHA. There, she directed a study of the state’s nursing workforce, which resulted in the infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into nursing programs.

Michael Mayo

Baptist Health

Mayo is president and CEO of Baptist Health, which has a network of more than 2,000 medical staff. Baptist Health is the only locally governed, faith-based, not-for-profit, mission-driven health care system in North Florida. Mayo has 32 years experience running health systems including as CEO of Orange Park Medical Center (HCA) and as chief operating officer of Memorial Hospital Jacksonville. Mayo serves on the University of North Florida (UNF) Foundation Board; the Dean’s Council of UNF; and is an adjunct professor at UNF Brooks College of Health.

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James McFadden III

The Southern Group

McFadden worked for the Legislature, the Governor’s Office and AHCA before taking a position at The Southern Group in 2012. While he’s versed in agriculture and technology issues, he’s on this list because of his health care expertise, which is underscored by his impressive list of clients. Among others, he represents Florida Blue, Florida Senior Living Association, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Surgeons for Safety, Inc., MCNA Dental Plans and GuideWell Group, Inc.

Martha McGill

Nemours Children’s Hospital Florida

As President of the Central Florida Region, McGill is responsible for building and integrating Nemours’ network of practice sites and partnerships across Florida. Florida’s Network Operations Chief Medical Officer and departments on Service Delivery and Innovation, Strategy and Business Development, Physician and Patient Network Operations, and Practice Administration all report to her.

Carlos Migoya

Jackson Health System

When he agreed to serve as President and CEO of Jackson Health System in 2011, Migoya inherited a system that had posted an $82 million loss the prior year. Since his arrival, the system has produced an annual surplus. In 2013, he led a successful campaign to have Miami-Dade County voters approve an $830 million bond program, the cornerstone of a $1.7 billion capital plan to renovate, modernize and expand Jackson’s facilities, which includes Jackson Memorial Hospital. In 2020, he led Jackson’s public vaccination program, which resulted in more than 175,000 people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson sites.

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Andrew Molosky

Chapters Health System

Molosky is the president and CEO of Chapters Health System, one of the nation’s premier community-based health care delivery systems. Molosky has repositioned Chapters Health into a provider of risk-bearing programming for hospice, palliative care, home health, durable medical equipment and pharmacy services.

Luis Mosquera

Health Network One

Mosquera is the CEO of Health Network One, a health care organization that employs more than 260 people and generates revenue in excess of $250 million annually. Over the past two decades, Mosquera has led the company’s expansion into several new geographic and product markets while effectively retooling operations to adapt to the ever-changing regulatory environment.

Keith Myers

MorseLife Health System

Myers is the CEO and president of MorseLife Health System, which offers a full continuum of long-term care services including a Gold Seal nursing home, assisted living, home health, hospice, PACE, and independent living in Palm Beach County. He serves on the Florida Health Care Association’s board of directors.

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Christopher Nuland

Law Office of Christopher Nuland

Nuland, a Jacksonville health care lawyer, is a rare breed. He lobbies the legislative and executive branches and represents physician clients, advising them on rules and laws and how to remain in compliance. He represents the Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Florida Society of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery and the Florida chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

Toby Philpot

Floridian Partners

The FHCA had one of its best Sessions while Philpot was on board, helping to finally pass legislation that reduces the number of nursing hours residents are required to receive. He also helped secure a $293 million recurring increase in reimbursements, the biggest rate bump in FHCA’s history. Before he joined FHCA, Philpot worked at AHCA, where he was instrumental in passing requirements for nursing homes to have emergency backup power.

David Pizzi

Florida Blue

Florida Blue is the largest health insurer in the state. Pizzi, who has been with the company for 20 years, is now its vice president of government relations, meaning he has an eye on all things related to health insurance and health care. Pizzi has an unusual background for a health insurance lobbyist, having previously worked as an EMT and registered nurse.

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Holly J. Prince

Anthem, Inc., Simply Healthcare Plans, Inc.

Prince is the regional vice president for Anthem and the chief operating officer for Simply Healthcare. She joined Anthem as part of the acquisition of Simply Healthcare Plans, where she was the first CFO and an integral member of the executive management team. She previously was the corporate controller and interim CFO for DentaQuest, a managed Medicaid dental plan. Her health care career was launched in public accounting.

Emmett Reed

Florida Health Care Association

As the Executive Director of FHCA, Reed is responsible for overall operations, hiring association staff and outside lobbyists to pass the agenda set by the association’s board of directors. Since Reed took the helm more than 10 years ago, the association has played a key role in developing a new Medicaid reimbursement system. He also helped get Medicaid increases and pass a new law lowering minimum nursing requirements, which the FHCA branded as modernizing staffing mandates.

William “Bill” Rubin

Rubin Turnbull & Associates

Rubin, the founder and chair of Rubin, Turnbull & Associates, has been a constant presence in Florida lobbying and political circles for decades. He has long lobbied for prominent health care clients including companies linked to Scott before he became Governor. Rubin initially worked in state government, rising to the post of assistant insurance commissioner and treasurer. He started lobbying in 1985 and launched his own firm in 1992.

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Joy Ryan

Meenan P.A.

Ryan, a shareholder at Meenan, P.A., has represented many different interests before the Legislature and executive branches. But her expertise is life, health, long term care, disability and, to a lesser extent, property insurance. She represents the managed care industry before the Legislature and also helps identify procurement opportunities, helping her clients prepare winning bids and defend winning bids against challenges. Ryan’s clients include America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Florida Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Association, Prime Therapeutics and Teladoc Health, Inc.

Helen Sairany

Florida Pharmacy Association

Executive Vice President and CEO for Florida Pharmacy Association, Sairany also is a pharmacist who has worked as a field provider for Doctors Without Borders in Iraq and Western Syria. She has been at the forefront of the Pharmacy Benefit Managers regulatory debate this Session in Tallahassee.

Martin Schappell

Shell Point Retirement Community

Schappell is the president of Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers, largest single-site continuing care retirement community in the state and home to about 2,400 residents. Shell Point has more than 1,000 employees and offers its residents access to independent living, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and a nursing home and rehabilitation center. The campus features a championship golf course and also boasts a guest hotel.

Alicia Schulhof

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

Schulhof was named president of Johns Hopkins in June 2021. A research and teaching hospital in St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children’s in December 2022 was for the second time named as a top children’s hospital for patient safety and quality by The Leapfrog Group. Nearly 600 physicians who specialize in more than 50 pediatric medical and surgical subspecialties work at Johns Hopkins.

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Jeff Scott

Florida Medical Association

For more than 20 years, Scott has been General Counsel for the FMA, Florida’s largest statewide physician association. In that time, Scott has championed changes to how medical malpractice cases are litigated and helped pass a law requiring health insurers to pay out-of-network physicians directly for services rendered rather than send reimbursements to patients.

Justin Senior

Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida

Before being named the CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida (SNHAF), Senior was in many instances the face of Gov. Scott’s health care policy. He served as the state Medicaid Director from 2011 to 2016, overseeing the procurement, implementation and operation of Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program. Scott appointed him AHCA Secretary in October 2016, a position Senior held until January 2019, when he resigned to take the helm of the SNHAF. Senior is helping to lead efforts this Session to increase state funding for graduate medical educational programs and payments to hospitals for providing pediatric care.

Tim Stapleton


Stapleton, a consultant with the Gunster firm, has more than 25 years of experience dealing with health care policy, politics and business. He was CEO of the FMA from 2008 to 2021. Stapleton first joined the FMA in 1998 and prior to becoming CEO he served as vice president of public affairs and executive director of the FMA’s political action committee. Before landing at the FMA, he served as a regional representative of the American Medical Association in Chicago and as a lobbyist for the Medical Society of the State of New York.

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Katie Strickland

Gov. DeSantis’ Office

Strickland has been the Deputy Chief of Staff for the DeSantis administration since November 2021 and she works with key agencies such as DOH, AHCA and APD. Strickland previously was Deputy Communications Director for DeSantis. She also previously worked as Communications Director for Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Deputy Communications Director for APD.

David Strong

Orlando Health

For the last eight years, Strong has served as the president and CEO of Orlando Health, a hospital system with 16 hospitals and more than 22,000 employees. The hospital system also owns Orlando Health Strategic Innovations, an innovation platform with a corporate venture fund that invests in promising early-stage health care companies from around the world. Strong serves on the boards of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the FHA, as well as the Executive Committee of SNHAF.

Shane Strum

Broward Health

Strum has been the president and CEO of one the nation’s largest safety net health care systems since March 2021. He was DeSantis’ Chief of Staff prior to taking the helm at the North Broward Hospital District, which operates as Broward Health. Strum was senior vice president at the North Broward hospital District, which operates as Memorial Healthcare System, before he went to work for DeSantis. Strum also worked as Chief of Staff for former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Spring 2023 The top influencers in Florida health care politics

Jennifer Sweet

Aetna Better Health of Florida, a CVS health Company

Sweet, who was named CEO of Aetna Better Health of Florida in 2020, spearheaded the launch of a cost-saving program that combines in-home care with telemedicine and technology. Aetna Better Health partnered with Emcara Health for the Medicaid initiative, which will focus on medically complex adults living in Tampa Bay, Orlando and Miami-Dade.

Jason Weida

Agency for Health Care Administration

As AHCA Secretary, Weida is in charge of the agency that, thanks to the Medicaid program, has the largest budget of all state agencies at $38.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2022-23. In addition to administering the Medicaid program, AHCA also regulates health care facilities, from nursing homes to hospitals to abortion clinics. Weida presides over the agency as it prepares its third procurement of the Medicaid managed care program

Jamie Wilson

Moffitt Cancer Center

As Vice President of Government Relations for Moffitt Cancer Center, Wilson is responsible for government relations at the state, federal and local levels, advocating for increased funding for cancer research and education. Prior to joining Moffit in 2007, he was a founding member of the lobbying firm Liberty Partners. Wilson previously worked for the Republican Party of Florida and also spent 11 years in U.S. Sen. Connie Mack’s Office.

Amy Young

Ballard Partners

A managing partner at Ballard Partners’ West Palm Beach office, Young has had an influential role in Florida health care policy for the last three decades. Young’s clients list includes Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Sage Therapeutics, District XII of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the Florida Society of Pathologists.

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The top influencers in Florida health care politics
Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 157

Everglades Restoration After 25 Years: A


FEATURE Success Story


Photography Ibrahim Alava

If you haven’t paid attention to the Everglades in a while, now might be a good time. Despite dour outlooks over the years, it’s not a stretch to note tremendous accomplishments in restoring the Everglades, and the boogeyman of yesterday is an important partner today in continuing to improve one of Florida’s most famous natural resources.

Coming up on the 30th anniversary of the Everglades Forever Act, around 95% of the Everglades now meets the 10 parts per billion phosphorus standard, and all of Everglades National Park is meeting the 10 parts per billion phosphorus standard. It’s a success story that happens when industry, regulators and the public move toward the same goal.

On top of that, farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) have been required to reduce phosphorus coming off their lands by 25%, but the EAA has averaged a 57% annual reduction for more than 25 years.

Getting to this point took developing and following best management practices (BMPs) developed at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

“BMPs for the reduction of dissolved phosphorus have received considerable attention,” according to a UF/IFAS publication authored by Professor Samira Daroub, Center Director for Soil and Environmental Chemistry. “The primary sources for dissolved phosphorus are soil mineralization and fertilizer application. Mineralization of the organic soils of the EAA was accelerated by excessive draining, which exposes the subsoil to aerobic conditions, causing oxidation and solubilization of organically bound phosphorus.” People began determining when and where water flowed, resulting in buildup of phosphorus where there wasn’t previously, as nutrient-rich soil sped down canals instead of getting gradually filtered on the way to the ocean.

This is the challenge presented to growers in the region, including farmers at U.S. Sugar.

“Farmers are an important piece of this part of the Everglades, and the man-made drainage system was designed so that EAA or farm water was used to hydrate the more southern parts of the Everglades,” said Judy Sanchez, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and

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Judy Sanchez

Public Affairs for U.S. Sugar in Clewiston. “It is not really accurate to say that the naturally high nutrient levels of the land south of Lake Okeechobee, muck soils created by nature, are ‘pollution’ just because the government drainage system moved them in unnatural ways that created change.”

“They are natural parts of the Everglades. However, we now know how to move water in better ways.”

Results from BMPs became significant a decade into the work. These practices include sophisticated land leveling, canal and ditch sediment removal, retaining more water on land, soil testing before each planting, and a host of other practices.

tal phosphorus per acre after BMP implementation compared to 1.3 pounds total phosphorus per acre before (water year 1995).”

One of those BMPs is the employment of cover crops to prevent erosion, so, for instance, U.S. Sugar isn’t just growing sugarcane on its fields south of Lake Okeechobee.


“In (water year) 2004, phosphorus concentrations from the EAA averaged 69 parts per billion compared to the pre-BMP base period phosphorus concentration of 173 parts per billion,” according to UF/IFAS. “This major and sustainable reduction is directly attributable to the BMP program. Adjusted unit area loads on project farms averaged 0.73 pounds to-

“We have about a dozen or more vegetables that are grown, (including) kale, on our property,” Sanchez said. “So, this is where the winter and spring vegetables are produced, not only for Florida families, but for the nation’s families.”

Fruit and vegetables from fields in the EAA feed about 180 million people along the U.S. East Coast annually, according to statistics from the Florida Farm Bureau.

Water managers, including former South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) water resources manager Terrie Bates, agree the partnerships have been a success. “The best management practices conscientiously implemented by the EAA farmers, working

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Terrie Bates Bald eagles, bobcats and a variety of other species call the Everglades Agricultural Area home. During the winter months, migratory ducks can be seen in wetlands areas near the EAA.

in tandem with the stormwater treatment areas constructed and operated by the water management, have resulted in measurable and significant improvement in water quality throughout the Water Conservation Areas,” according to Bates.

Work isn’t slowing down — indeed, it’s bolstered by a recent announcement by Gov. Ron DeSantis

“Today, I am proud to announce the next step in this administration’s continued dedication to Florida’s treasured environment,” DeSantis said in early January. “This order directs funding and strategic action that will continue our momentum and enhance our ongoing efforts to expedite critical Everglades restoration projects, employ sound science to protect and restore our waterways, and fund infrastructure projects to improve water quality and safeguard Florida’s water supply.”

The DeSantis administration, through an executive order, committed the Department of Environmental Protection to secure $3.5 billion for Everglades restoration and water quality projects over the next four years.

“In Gov. DeSantis’ first term, we broke ground on, hit a major milestone and completed more than 50 Everglades restoration projects,” SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss said. “Because of his unwavering commitment to our natural resources, the South Florida Water Management District will be able to do more to move water south, reduce harmful discharges, and improve water quality.”

“Florida has benefited from many different stakeholders stepping up in a big way to make Everglades Restoration a priority,” said former DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, who served in the position under Govs. Rick Scott and DeSantis. “The federal and state support for these projects — combined with the implementation and success at a regional level — has been a major success story.”

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Chauncey Goss
A great egret and her hatchlings nest near the shores of Lake Okeechobee.
Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 163 Florida’s Specialty Hospitals for Children are committed to staying at the leading edge of pediatric care and ensuring every Florida child has access to the world-class, specialized care they need. The only Florida hospitals that solely provide and invest in care for children The top four hospitals in the state with the highest Medicaid utilization Represent the most pediatric subspecialty areas, treating children with the most critical and complex care needs Expand Florida’s workforce of highly skilled, highly specialized pediatric care professionals 1 in 4 Florida children will be treated in Florida’s four nonprofit, specialty-licensed children’s hospitals.

Added Valenstein, “Gov. DeSantis and our federal partners deserve all the credit for their persistence in getting these projects the funding they need.”

Part of the task going forward must involve water storage north of Lake Okeechobee to help reduce the flow of nutrients into the lake and also cut down on the damaging releases to the coastal estuaries. Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells are receiving attention as possibly the quickest and most cost-effective way to provide a major part of the needed storage.“

“Almost all of the inflow to the lake comes from the north and the com bination of some surface storage facilities and multiple ASR wells looks like an effective way to accommodate large volume storage in the sensitive upstream watershed,” said Michael Ellis, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for U.S. Sugar. “Preliminary investigations indicate that the geology there is well suited to the place ment of multiple ASR wells. When paired with an appropriate operational schedule for the lake, the wells would be operated to place into underground storage — water that would otherwise have ended up as unwanted discharge to the coastal

“The ASR wells have the very significant added benefit of being able to return water to the lake during dry periods when South Florida’s water users, including the environment, need it.”

The Governor and Legislature agreed to give $250 million over the last four years for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, which takes advantage of these ASR wells, many of which are already in use around the state. The project is part

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(Above) Roseate Spoonbills in flight near a sugarcane field in Clewiston, Fla.5. (Right) Caracaras are commonly found seeking nourishment in the muck soils of the EAA.


Marco Rubio

of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, a joint effort in which the federal and state governments, U.S. Sugar and other stakeholders came together in 2000 to support and start projects to secure the Everglades’ future.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio emphasized the importance of the project in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers in September asking the Corps to expedite a needed report to Congress.

“In addition to restoring important ecosystem functions in the Okeechobee watershed,” Rubio said, “the project will allow water managers to optimize management flexibility in order to improve the ecology of the lake, reduce harmful discharges to the Northern Estuaries, provide a more reliable source of water for municipal and agricultural use, and generally facilitate the allocation of volumes of water when and where it is needed most.”

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PR eempt their next move

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sac h sme d ia . co m | 85 0 . 2 22. 199 6 Public Relations | Public Affairs | Research | Crisis | Digital

What I’ve Learned

Lenny Curry

52, Jacksonville

Mayor of Jacksonville, Dad

As told to Rosanne Dunkelberger


I was born in Key West. I’m a seventh-generation Conch. My dad ended up down there because his father was in the Navy. (When) my grandfather got out of World War II, he wanted to go as far south in the U.S. as he could so he went down (to) Key West and met my grandmother and settled. My mom was multi-generational. I was there until I was 12 years old. You’re always in the sun, you’re always in the water. That was the ’70s, so doors were unlocked. We were out running the streets all night riding bikes and playing games. It was a really fantastic time. It was hard to leave. My dad’s parents had settled in Orange Park and we wanted to get closer to them … so we moved to Middleburg, Florida, which was very rural at the time. We lived one mile down a dirt road. I’m a graduate of the University of Florida. ... My kids want to go to FSU, but that’s another story.


I earned my bachelor’s degree in accounting and was in the master’s program when I left to do an internship at what was then Coopers & Lybrand. I felt like I was making so much money in the internship, I talked them into hiring me full time. I took the CPA exam in Georgia and passed it. Probably interesting fact: I sat for the first CPA exam where they let you use a calculator.

Coopers & Lybrand merged with Price Waterhouse and became PWC. I was a senior manager there; the next step was partner. Another senior manager and I were working late one night — probably about 11 p.m. We worked a lot of hours in those days. We were making really good money at our age. He did some quick math on a piece of paper

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Spring 2023
PHOTO: The Workmans

and said, ‘Hey I think I’m going to start a staffing and recruiting firm. And if … you do it with me, we’ll build out at this rate, we’ll make what we make today.’ So we left and started a company and had success. I don’t have any part of it anymore. I started that company in 2002, exited it when I became Mayor. It was a good run.


I volunteered for many years, knocked on doors for Ander Crenshaw’s congressional campaign (and) got involved with the local Republican Party as a volunteer as their treasurer in 2006. Then Barack Obama beat John McCain and the party had no leadership. Nobody wanted to be the Chairman. I said “I’ll do it.” The position was volunteer at that point. So that’s how I got involved in party politics.


Pension reform was huge. We had unfunded pension liability and no source of revenue to pay for it. Republicans said, generally speaking, ‘We don’t have a revenue source problem, we have a benefit problem.’ Democrats would say, ‘No, we don’t have a benefit problem. We need to go find more revenue.’ So we did both — and it was very challenging. The first challenging part was I had to convince the House and the Senate and then the Governor, because we had to go through them to allow us, through legislation, to extend an existing tax. Then we had to take it to the voters, then go to labor unions. That is where it started to get really sticky. Policemen and firemen had, before I got in office, certain pension benefits taken from them. What I said is, ‘Look, you built your lives around this. We promised you these benefits, we’re gonna restore everything you were promised. But in return, we want to move new hires into defined contribution plans.’ And that’s where we ended up. As a result, we have invested

heavily in our city, which we would not have been able to do without that. It’s not a sexy issue, but it fundamentally changed the future of our city. We have done almost a billion dollars in investments in seven years that we would not have been able to do without pension reform. We’ve paid down a half a billion dollars in debt since I’ve been in office. We’ve increased our reserves from $100-and-something million to over $350 million. We are financially sound and investing and rocking and rolling.

We heavily invested in infrastructure and I’ve been doing this now for seven years — big capital improvement budgets. That’s quality of life: people, sidewalks, parks, roads, septic tank removal — stuff that was promised 40 years ago, that was never delivered on. Big investments downtown. The Jacksonville Landing is a place that ... was recognized by many

because (when) people travel here for a sporting event, they usually end up there. It’s seen better days. We went through a huge fight to get our rights back to that — and under much criticism we knocked it down. But now it’s a beautiful green space that will at some point have additional development with a lot of green space. I mentioned the Landing because that’s a very visible thing. People recognize I reformed our Children’s Services, created an organization called Kids Hope Alliance, which is summer programs, after school programs, job programs. The jobs program before I got in office was good, but it was part time. We now have a yearround program, both with government entities and the private sector that employ young people that want jobs and experience and leadership. All that takes money. None of this would have been possible had we not done pension reform.

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LEFT: Former Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry waving goodbye to members of the Executive Committee during a specially called meeting in Tampa in 2014. (State Archives of Florida/Cotterell) RIGHT: Curry hasn’t settled on what he’ll be doing after he finishes up his term as Mayor, but says he’ll always be working to elect Republicans in the future. Photo by The Workmans.


I went to high school in a very rural area with a lot of Southern culture. But when I started to think about symbols, monuments that are on public property that exclude certain members of the community — I just don’t think that’s the proper place for it. Some have made the argument that these, at least in Jacksonville, were put up … for heritage. The truth is, those monuments were put up much later at a time when they were meant to exclude people. I just don’t think our public space … in Jacksonville should be any symbol. Any sign should be ‘Welcome to Jacksonville.’ Every member of every community (should) feel a part of wanting to be there.

I removed one because I had the authority to. It’s based on the cost to remove. I had the budgetary ability to do that unilaterally. The others need to be approved by City Council. And at this point … the body is choosing not to take a position. My guess is that’s political and … I hope they vote to remove, but if they don’t, they ought to make their positions public and let the public know where they stand, yes or no.


When he was a Congressman, he supported my first run. I remember him personally attending a fundraiser. Since he’s been Governor, he’s been great to Jacksonville. He’s been great for me to work with personally. In COVID, we opened our beaches first. I was mocked heavily on national media. We ended up being right, by the way — but at the time that wasn’t the narrative and the Governor publicly stood up for the decision that I made here. We’ve also worked together on economic deals in Jacksonville.

I think he’s been a phenomenal leader for the state of Florida. COVID was hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event for us, and the way he led and navigated Florida’s position in my city, in the whole state, I think for success … I’m just real proud of the work that he’s done.

He’s leading by what he thinks is the right thing to do. All the national noise when they attack him and criticize — he stays the course.


I started this account before I was in elected office. It just became a running thing that I do and just because I got elected Mayor of Jacksonville, I wasn’t going to change a lot of the things that I find interesting and share with my followers. From time to time I would go

I just don’t think our public space … in Jacksonville should be any symbol. Any sign should be ‘Welcome to Jacksonville.’ Every member of every community (should) feel a part of wanting to be there.
Mayor Curry has taken a controversial stand on confederate memorials in Jacksonville and has called on the City Council to weigh in on the subject. Photo by The Workmans.

back and forth with people. I have tried to do it much less the last seven years, but every now and then … usually if somebody’s been trolling me over and over and over again … I’ll say ‘OK, I’m going to engage this (person) one or two or three times and then walk away and see what happens.’ Then I usually turn my phone off. Sometimes I wake up to nothing. Sometimes I wake up to text messages and pings, and sometimes it ends up on the evening news.

If I express an opinion, it’s generally what I believe. I’m not just trying to be dramatic or create attention. I have thought, ‘Even though I believe that and think that, maybe I shouldn’t have put it out there. Maybe that should have just stayed with me.’ You know, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.

A couple of years ago I went through my feed over the holidays and I intentionally unfollowed a lot of stuff and went out of my way to research things that I’m interested in that are positive and started following certain accounts. … I was getting all this stuff that wasn’t political — it was cool stuff

that I’m interested in. Twitter can be a really good place for learning if people use it that way.


I’ve got three lovely kids and a wife that just are absolutely the center of my universe.  Molly is five years younger than me. When I was with Coopers & Lybrand and she was leaving UF with an accounting degree, I was part of recruiting her and trying to get her to go to work in the Jacksonville office. She went to Price Waterhouse in Tampa. The firms merged and she ended up in a class that I was teaching to new hires … and the rest is history. My wife is one of four children. I’m an only child. I told her before we got married, I wanted six kids. She won’t confirm or deny her response to that.


Yes, those are my words. I used to say ‘win’ but as I’ve gotten older and more mature, I realized that you don’t always win. So you have to compete and learn

from it and, whatever the outcome, go to the next thing.


I haven’t answered that question yet. I’m thinking through some things. I probably will go back into the private sector — maybe for a period of time, maybe forever. I don’t know. Maybe do something entrepreneurial again or there’ll be plenty of private sector options. I can tell you what I don’t do. I don’t wake up in the morning and think that I have to be an elected official, I have to have that position.

I’ve got a lot of road left in me. I looked at a congressional run a few months ago and decided that it wasn’t right for my family at this time. I want to be with my kids (while they are) in school. If the right door opens, I’ll consider walking through it. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep working hard to get good Republicans elected around the state and into federal office. … And if I have another run in me, I’ll be asking for help.

Spring 2023 INFLUENCE | 173 Political & Election Lawyers Elections • Government Relations Campaign Finance • Tax-Exempt Entities Natalie Kato WITH YOU WHEN IT COUNTS.

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1 Bunches of Smarties: as of 2021 rankings, Florida ranked #1 in higher education for five consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report.

2 Destin, Florida is named the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” while being home to the largest fleet of charter fishing vessels in North America.

3 Britton Hill is Florida’s highest natural point at 345 feet above sea level, making it the lowest high point in the United States.


There is one thing Florida lacks… dinosaur bones! There have been no dinosaur bones found in Florida during excavation.

5 Sunglasses have bad luck at Disney World, over 200 pairs of sunglasses are lost every day at the Walt Disney World Parks.

6 Have you heard of the Doolittle Raiders during World War II? This redemptive air mission after the bombing of Pearl Harbor trained right here in Florida at Eglin Air Force Base.

7 Italy… in America? Nope, the city of Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America because of its canal system, with 165 miles of local waterways.

8 Walkers Paradise? Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world totaling 4.5 miles.

9 Not only is Florida home to 11 national parks, but Florida’s state park system has been awarded best in the country for four years – more than any other state.

10 Since 2000, there has been $123 billion in damages caused by hurricanes that hit Florida.

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Articles inside


page 178

What I’ve Learned Lenny Curry

pages 170-176


pages 161-168

David Strong

pages 157-160

Justin Senior

pages 156-157

Joy Ryan

pages 154-155

Emmett Reed

page 153

Christopher Nuland

page 152

Andrew Molosky

page 151

James McFadden III

page 150

Mary Mayhew

pages 148-149

Dr. Alma Littles

page 146

Dr. Colleen G. Koch

page 145

Mike Jones

pages 143-145

Allegra Jaros

page 142

Advocacy. Strategic Counsel. Experienced Insight.

page 141

Susan Harbin Alford

page 140

Pat Geraghty

page 139

Samantha Ferrin

page 138

Leslie Dughi

page 137

Mark Delegal

page 136

John Couris

pages 134-135

Chris Clark

page 134

Audrey Brown

pages 131-133

Ron Book

page 130

Steve Bahmer

page 129

DIAGNOSIS: in Florida health care politics The top influencers

page 128

Witbracht Rachel

pages 124-126

Nikki Whiting

pages 122-123


pages 120-121

Derick Tabertshofer

pages 118-119

Alex Smith

pages 116-117

Pamela Sirota

pages 114-115

Jeff Scala

pages 110-113

Alex Santana

pages 108-109


pages 106-107


page 105


page 104

Avery Lopez

pages 101-103


page 100


page 99


page 99

Chad is wanting to become a subject matter expert and put

page 97

Chad Kunde

page 96

BD Jogerst

page 95


page 94

John Paul Fiore

pages 90-93

Julie Fazekas

page 89

Ryan Fernandez Michael

pages 86-88

Amol Dhaliwal

pages 84-85

Mary KatherineDelegal

pages 82-83

“ ... he goes the extra mile. He’s loyal, knows his stuff...”

page 81


page 80


pages 78-79


pages 76-77


pages 74-76

Maya Anderson

page 73

Alyssa Akbar

page 72

Keten Abebe

page 71

Rising Stars

page 70

Partners IN THE PROCESS How a Florida firm has become an unsung hero in Sunshine State advocacy

pages 66-69

On 3 Public Relations celebrates 15 years

pages 62-65


pages 58-61

Trucking for tort reform

pages 55-56

Bank failures and cryptocurrencies

pages 53-54

Sprinting through Session with Capital City Consulting

pages 48, 51-52

Shepherding Amazon through The Process

pages 47-48

Towson Fraser lead Tucker/Hall Tallahassee office

pages 32-36

Caroline Korba lands VP spot

page 31

BFR Briefings from the Rotunda

page 31

Gray Robinson adds a dynamic trio

page 30

Jeff Brandes launches Florida Policy Project

page 29


pages 25-28

Doing our par t

page 24

at the beach in style

pages 20-21

Flipping The Script Could Florida’s 10-year drought on film incentives be coming to a close?

pages 17-19


pages 13-15


pages 10-12

Springing Forward

pages 4-9
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