Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Recommends Dana Young as CEO of Visit Florida

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today recommended former Florida State Senator Dana Young to the Visit Florida Board of Directors to be selected as the next CEO of Visit Florida. 

“Dana Young is an exceptional leader who has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all Floridians through her work in the state senate,” said Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. “Her leadership ability and experience make her an excellent candidate to lead Visit Florida in their mission to maximize the economic impact of travel and tourism to our state. I look forward to working with Dana to strengthen our tourism industry and build on the economic success of our great state.”

Dana Young, CEO of the Visit Florida
Dana Young, a sixth-generation Floridian, was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. In November 2010, she was elected to the Florida House of Representatives and served District 60 until November 2016. In November 2016, she was elected to the Florida Senate (Tampa – 18th District). Senator Young is a product of the Florida public school system, and received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida State University. In pursuit of her interest of the law and public policy, Senator Young graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1993, and then returned home to Florida to begin her legal career at Fowler, White, Boggs, P.A.

In October 2014, then Representative Young was tapped by Florida House Speaker Crisafulli as Majority Leader to serve for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. This follows two years serving as Majority Whip and Deputy Majority Leader under Speaker Will Weatherford. In April 2013, she was appointed by Governor Scott to the Florida Defense Support Task Force. From 2011-2012 she served as Chairman of the influential Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation.

Sen. Young has worked tirelessly to pass legislation aimed at creating an exceptional business climate and a world-class quality of life for Floridians. In her legislative career, she has sponsored and passed numerous bills, which are now law. She and her husband, Matt, have been married for over 20 years and have two daughters, Alexandra and Carson.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Selects Mary Mayhew as Secretary of The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced former Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Mary Mayhew, will serve as Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) for the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration.  

“With decades of experience and service throughout various leadership roles in both the private and public sectors, Mary Mayhew is a proven innovator and an effective leader in the field of health care,” said Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. “Mary will be an outstanding Secretary who will bring bold and tested leadership to the Agency.”

Mary Mayhew, Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration
Mary Mayhew currently serves as Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, where she is responsible for the management of the $375 billion federal Medicaid program serving over 74 million individuals. In that role, she has lead national Medicaid and CHIP policy and program operations and supporting federal efforts to provide states with greater flexibility while increasing accountability for improved health outcomes, effective pathways out of poverty and prudent use of taxpayer resources.

Mayhew previously served as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) where she implemented innovative reforms to the agency, including transforming Medicaid’s transactional focus to an organizational structure focused on value, cost-effectiveness, and health system improvement, increasing focus on program integrity and fraud investigations and implementing a federal grant review process to strategically prioritize grant requests and to evaluate program accountability, among other accomplishments.

While serving in this role, Mayhew was awarded the Freedom & Opportunity Award from the Maine Heritage Policy Center, and the Economic Freedom Award from Americans for Prosperity for her accomplishments as Commissioner of Health and Human Services.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Announces Central Hires To The Executive Office of the Governor’s Communications Team

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced two central communications staff members who will be joining the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG). Hires include Meredith Beatrice as Deputy Communications Director and Dave Vasquez as Press Secretary. Beatrice and Vasquez will join the communications office in the EOG led by Director of Communications Helen Aguirre Ferré. “Having worked with Meredith and Dave during the campaign, as well as the transition and inaugural, I know firsthand the talent these seasoned communications professionals will bring to the EOG,” said Governor-elect DeSantis. “I’m proud of their commitment and dedication to our state and look forward to their service to this administration and to the people of Florida.” 

Meredith Beatrice, Deputy Communications Director
Beatrice is a veteran of political and government communications. She most recently served as Communications Director for the Republican Party of Florida, where she focused on Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial race and supported the Ron DeSantis for Governor campaign. Her previous roles include serving as the Director of External Affairs for the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission and the Communications Director for the Florida Department of State. Prior to moving to Florida, Meredith served as a Director at JDA Frontline, a public affairs firm located in Washington, D.C. 

Dave Vasquez, Press Secretary
Vasquez is a political and communications professional who most recently served as Press Secretary throughout Governor-elect DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign and Transition. Prior to joining the DeSantis campaign, Vasquez served as an Associate Director and External Affairs Manager for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. A former campaign manager for Representative Bob Cortes, Vasquez successfully led communications and operational efforts during the 2016 election cycle. He is a graduate of Florida State University where he earned a B.S. in International Affairs.

Beatrice and Vasquez will begin their work together on January 9, 2019, immediately after Governor DeSantis and Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez take their oaths of office.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Selects Mark Inch as Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced former Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and retired United States Army Major General, Mark Inch, will serve as Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections for the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration.  “Mark Inch is an exceptional leader who has dedicated his life to serving and protecting our country at home and abroad,” said Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. 

“Mark is one of the foremost experts on criminal justice, having Directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons and I am proud to have him bring his knowledge and expertise to this new administration. I look forward to working with him to strengthen Florida’s Department of Corrections and ensure efficiency and accountability at such an important agency.

Mark Inch, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections
Mark Inch was appointed Director of the Federal Bureau Of Prisons and served in that role with distinction until 2018. Inch served as the Provost Marshal General and Commanding General of the Criminal Investigation Command and Army Corrections at Headquarters for the Department of the Army where he served at home and abroad for 36 years.

Inch was the principal military advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army on all policing matters. He was also responsible for developing and executing strategy, policies, plans and programs for the Army’s policing organizations. He held the role of Commanding General of the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 in Kabul, Afghanistan where he was responsible for Detainee Operations and Rule of Law Development within the Army’s Security Sector.

In 1982, Inch received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Archaeology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. In 2002, he received a Master of Arts Degree in Geography, from The University of Texas at Austin. Inch received a Master of Military Art and Science Degree from The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 2005.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Selects Chad Poppell as Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced former Secretary of the Department of Management Services, Chad Poppell, will serve as Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families for the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration. An experienced public servant, Poppell will lead the agency beginning in January, as the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration takes office.

“Chad Poppell is a dedicated public servant with a proven track record of achievement within the public sector,” said Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. “From his service at the Department of Economic Opportunity to his leadership at the Department of Management Services, Chad is the kind of leader who will be committed to strengthening Florida’s families and fighting for Florida’s children.

Chad Poppell, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families
Chad Poppell currently works as the IBM Industry client Leader for Florida’s Public Sector, which includes state and local government, as well as K-12 and higher education. Before this role, Poppell served as the Secretary of the Department of Management Services. There he worked to support state agencies as well as current and former state employees with workforce and business-related functions.

Previously, Poppell served as Chief of Staff to the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state agency charged with advancing economic development, growth management, community development and workforce development activity across Florida.

In 2011, Poppell was employed as the Director of Employee Services by JEA in Jacksonville, Florida. Before his time in this role, Poppell served as the Chief of Human Resources for the City of Jacksonville.

Poppell earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, and his Master of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Announces Key Hires to the Executive Office of the Governor

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor-elect Ron DeSantis announced key additions to the Executive Office of the Governor. Key hires include Chris Spencer, who will join the administration as Policy Director. Justin Caporale will serve as Director of External Affairs. Amanda Emmons and Makenzi Mahler will serve as Director of Scheduling and Director of Appointments, respectively.

“This team of qualified, dedicated and talented individuals will help us deliver on the issues that matter most to Floridians from economic growth to water quality and more,” said Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. “I’m proud to announce their service to our state and I have every confidence in their commitment to the people of Florida.”

Chris Spencer, Policy Director
Spencer most recently helped manage Transition Advisory Committee efforts for Governor-elect DeSantis. With experience in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, Spencer brings a wealth of policy and procedural experience to the new administration. A former Chief Legislative Assistant in the Florida Senate, Spencer helped to manage the legislative office of Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).

Justin Caporale, Director of External Affairs
Caporale is an experienced advance and operations professional with an extensive background in developing the strategy and overseeing the management of political events and advocacy campaigns. Justin worked as a senior Advance and Operations lead throughout the 2016 Donald J. Trump for President campaign before serving in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President and the Director of Operations for the East Wing. Justin previously served as the Director of Operations and Chief of Staff for Concerned Veterans for America and most recently worked as Director of Advance for the Ron DeSantis for Governor campaign before serving in his current role as Executive Director of the DeSantis-Nuñez Inauguration.

Amanda Emmons, Director of Scheduling
Amanda Emmons will join the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration as Director of Scheduling. Emmons previously served in the Governor-elect’s Transition as the Director of Scheduling, a role she also held throughout the DeSantis-Nuñez campaign. Prior to her role in the campaign, Emmons worked as a Staff Assistant to Senator Marco Rubio where she served as a grant and intern coordinator for the Senator’s office.

Makenzi Mahler, Director of Appointments
Currently serving as Deputy Director of Recruiting for the Transition, Mahler will join the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration as the new Director of Appointments. Prior to her role on the Transition, Mahler served as Deputy Finance Director for the DeSantis-Nuñez campaign. Before joining the campaign, Mahler spent over three years at the Republican Party of Florida where she worked on strategic initiatives and in finance for the House Majority effort. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida State University where she earned a B.S. in Political Science.

“This is a talented group of individuals who have demonstrated the aptitude to serve not only the Governor-elect, but the people of Florida with distinction,” said Susie Wiles, Executive Director of the DeSantis-Nuñez Transition.

The staff will begin their work together on January 9, immediately after Governor DeSantis and Lt. Governor Nuñez take their oaths of office.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Selects Simone Marstiller as Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced former First District Court of Appeal Judge and former Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Simone Marstiller, will serve as Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration.  

“Few people have the leadership experience and government expertise to match Simone Marstiller,” said Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. “Simone is among the most talented and experienced professionals that our state has to offer and I am proud to have her join the Administration as the Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. She’s established an exceptional record of professional accomplishment and I look forward to working with her to further improve our state’s juvenile justice system.

Simone Marstiller, Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Simone Marstiller currently serves as Of Counsel with Gunster, Yoakley, Stewart, P.A., where her practice areas include appellate consulting and litigation, government affairs, procurement, ethics and elections. She joined Gunster in 2017 after retiring from the First District Court of Appeal, where she served as a judge for six years.

In 2001, Simone became Assistant General Counsel to Governor Jeb Bush, where she assisted the Governor’s General Counsel in overseeing the legal operations of the Governor’s agencies. In 2002, Simone was selected to serve as General Counsel for the Department of Management Services (DMS), the administrative agency for state government. There, she managed all legal affairs for the agency, including matters related to government procurement, outsourcing, state facility management and collective bargaining. While serving in this capacity, Governor Bush appointed her Interim Secretary of the agency.

From DMS, Simone returned to the Governor’s Office in 2003 to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff. In 2004, Governor Bush appointed her State Chief Information Officer to head state government’s central technology planning and policy organization, and in 2005 she became Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the state’s largest regulatory agency.

In 2007, Attorney General Bill McCollum appointed Simone Associate Deputy Attorney General for the State of Florida during which time, she also served as the agency’s General Counsel. When appointed to the appellate court in 2010, Simone was serving as Executive Director for the Florida Elections Commission.

Simone was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1988 from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, in 1996 from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Reappoints Barbara Palmer as Director of Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced Barbara Palmer will continue to serve as Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) for the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration.  

“I am pleased to reappoint Barbara Palmer to serve as the Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities,” said Governor-elect DeSantis. “Barbara has spent many years working to advance the needs of Floridians with disabilities and I have seen that she has the leadership capabilities and subject matter expertise needed to drive innovative public policy that will allow persons with disabilities to flourish in our communities across the state for years to come.” 

Former Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner added, “I’m excited that Governor-elect DeSantis has chosen Barbara Palmer to continue leading the APD. I’ve had the honor to work closely with her during my tenure as Senate President and I know she has a passion for individuals with unique abilities and will serve the new governor and our state with distinction.”

Barbara Palmer, Director of the Agency for Persons with DisabilitiesPalmer currently serves as the Director of APD, where she was appointed by Governor Rick Scott in August 2012. Prior to this position, Palmer served as the Chief of Staff of the APD.  

Before APD, Palmer was the Assistant Secretary for Administration for the Florida Department of Children and Families, and also served more than 15 years as President and CEO of Palmer, Musick & Associates. Throughout her career, Palmer has been the Chief Executive Officer of Illuminactive Multimedia, Inc.; Special Consultant for Governmental Affairs and Marketing for Pennington, Wilkinson & Dunlap, P.A.; Director of the Division of Hotels and Restaurants for the Florida Department of Business Regulation; Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations for the Florida State University; Director of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics for FSU, and Executive Director and Vice President of IMPACT Enterprises, Inc.    

Palmer has received numerous awards and honors, including being inducted into the “Florida Women’s Hall of Fame,” the “FSU Athletic Hall of Fame,” the FSU Circle of Gold, the “Tallahassee Community College Hall of Fame,” and the “Leon High School Hall of Fame;” and the recipient of the “President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports National Award,” the “Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Leadership Award,” FSU College of Education “Distinguished Alumni Award in Business & Industry,” Florida Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, “Outstanding Service Award,” and the National Association of Collegiate Women’s Athletic Administrators “Lifetime Achievement Award.” She also established the “Barbara J. Palmer Award” for Outstanding High School Athletics.  

Palmer received a Masters of Science in Leisure Services Administration and a Bachelors of Science in Recreation Administration from Florida State University.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Announces Michael Ertel for Secretary of State

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced Michael Ertel will serve as Florida’s next Secretary of State for the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration. 

“As Supervisor of Elections in Seminole County – where he has been elected by the voters four times – Mike has proven that he is vastly qualified to lead the state’s elections efforts as Secretary of State, and will strive to ensure that Florida voters are confident that elections continue to be fair and accurate,” said Governor-elect DeSantis. “I look forward to Mike bringing not only his elections expertise to Florida voters, but his steady leadership to the Department of State, as it seeks to improve the quality of life for all Floridians through its various activities, including preserving the state’s historical and cultural heritage; maintaining an open government by providing all Florida citizens access to information; and, enhancing Florida communities through business-friendly grant programs.”  

Michael Ertel, Secretary of State
Ertel has been the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections for thirteen years. Originally appointed by Governor Jeb Bush in February 2005, he was subsequently reelected by voters in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2016. 

Prior to becoming an elections supervisor, he was a radio personality and an award-winning writer and journalist. Ertel spent eight years in the United States Army with service in the U.S., Panama, Berlin and the Balkans, among others. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/OLC, Army Achievement Medal w/2OLC, National Defense Service Medal, and the Expert Marksmanship Badge, among others. After the Army, he was in the public affairs field. Ertel served as Seminole County government’s first public information professional, as the director of public relations for a 185-location bank, and conducted post-disaster public relations for VISIT FLORIDA, Florida’s tourism marketing agency. 

Ertel is a highly sought out expert on elections issues, speaking to state, national and international election organizations. He has testified before a United States Senate subcommittee, as well as the State of Texas’ Legislature and the National Conference of State Legislatures on voter identification. He has spoken about election law to conventions of the American Bar Association and the American Association of Political Consultants. Ertel was a featured speaker on military voting rights at the Heritage Foundation, and was the only U.S. representative at the International Electoral Affairs Symposium in London, where he facilitated the discussion on rebuilding voter trust. 

Ertel has twice won International Electoral Awards, in 2013 for rebuilding voter trust, and in 2017 for voter engagement. He was one of ten inaugural recipients of Campaigns and Elections’ Innovator Awards. Ertel has been featured internationally on Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the U.K. Daily Mail. 

Ertel attended the University of Maryland University College and is a graduate of the journalism program at the Defense Information School. Ertel completed the Crummer mini-MBA at Rollins College in 2015. 

Ertel has been awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award by the City of Longwood and was honored by the Seminole County Bar with their inaugural Thomas Jefferson Award. Orlando Life magazine has named him the region’s best elected official. 

Ertel, his wife, Michelle, and their dogs, Winston, Betty and Stanley, live in Geneva. They have two children: Zane, 24, a UCF graduate, and Gillian, 22, also a UCF graduate.  

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis Issues Statement Regarding the Case of The Groveland Four

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today issued the following statement regarding the case of the Groveland Four: 

“Seventy years is a long time. And that’s the amount of time four young men have been wrongly written into Florida history for crimes they did not commit and punishments they did not deserve. Justice was miscarried for the Groveland Four beginning with events set in motion in 1949. Though these men now lie in graves, their stories linger in search of justice.

“I appreciate the Legislature’s unanimous resolve and CFO Jimmy Patronis’ recent request that the Clemency Board consider the case. I look forward to reviewing the report of the Office of Executive Clemency and making the cases of the Groveland Four a priority for the first meeting of the Florida Cabinet in January. This is an appropriate action first acknowledged when Governor Leroy Collins commuted one of the victims’ sentences in 1955. And make no mistake: these men were victims.

“I urge all Floridians to become acquainted with the facts of this case. And not only Groveland, but we must all learn from the past in its fullness. We should be shocked by the acts of evil that were done yet inspired by the men and women of good will who have refused to let sleeping dogs lie.

“I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried. The perpetrators celebrated. But justice has cried out from that day until this. 

“Seventy years is a long time to wait, but it is never too late to do the right thing.”