The latest edition of INFLUENCE Magazine features the 2017 Golden Rotunda award winners - Florida Politics

The latest edition of INFLUENCE Magazine features the 2017 Golden Rotunda award winners

GrayRobinson, the mammoth legal-lobbying firm whose governmental affairs practice is headed by former House Speaker Dean Cannon, has won the Golden Rotunda for Lobbying Firm of the Year.

Brian Ballard, the Florida-based lobbyist with deep connections to the Trump administration, was named Lobbyist of the Year.

The award for Boutique Lobbying Firm of the Year went to The Mayernick Group, the firm headed by husband-wife duo Frank and Tracy Mayernick.


This is the second year of awarding the Golden Rotundas, given by INFLUENCE Magazine to recognize the best in the governmental affairs profession. Winners are determined by voting within the profession.

To determine the Lobbying Firm of the Year and the Boutique Lobbying firm of the Year, each of the 30 largest governmental affairs firms (by reported compensation) were give one ballot and asked to submit a weighted ballot what they are the top three firms.

A first place vote earned three point, while a third-place vote earned one.

GrayRobinson saw its staff size and client list grow faster this past year than almost any other major firm. It also landed one of the key recruits coming out of the Scott administration when it hired Kim McDougald, the former chief of staff to the governor.

From left, Jason Unger, Kim McDougal, Katie Flury, Jessica Love and Dean Cannon from Gray/Robinson gather in downtown Tallahassee to celebrate being named Lobbying Firm of the Year.

“It’s an honor for our firm to win this prestigious award,” said Cannon. “It speaks to the hard work of every member of governmental affairs team as well as to the deserved successes of the clients we represent.”

For the second year in a row, Southern Strategy Group finished second in Firm of the Year voting. Sean Pittman‘s practice was the runner-up in the Boutique category.

A note here about one firm that did not finish first or second, yet deserves recognition. Smith Bryan & Myers landed in the Top 5 in final voting for Firm of the Year. This is noteworthy because, year after year, the same four or five firms finish at the top of rankings based solely on compensation reports. While SBM certainly does well in compensation, it doesn’t earn as much as a Ballard or a SSG. What it does earn, clearly, is the respect of its peers since it is other lobbyists — most of whom are the managing partners of a firm’s governmental affairs practice — who voted on the Firm of the Year awards. Kudos to the entire team at Smith Bryan & Myers.

In addition to the firm awards, more than a dozen lobbyists won individual Golden Rotundas.

After ride-sharing legislation was finally signed into law, Uber’s Stephanie Smith was the runaway winner in the In-house Lobbyist of the Year category. Eileen Stuart, who helped Mosaic Company navigate a difficult situation when a sinkhole opened at its New Wales plant, is the runner-up.

Smith and Stuart are among several female lobbyists who won Golden Rotundas, setting a new benchmark within the governmental affairs profession.

Stacy Arias (Law Enforcement), Jennifer Green (Disruption), Ashley Kalifeh (Insurance) and Heather Turnbull (a runner-up in two categories) are among this year’s recipients.

Other noteworthy award winners were:

— Bill Rubin, in the new category of Lobbying Play of the Year. Rubin, who is closely aligned with the Scott administration, finished second to Ballard in Lobbyist of the Year voting.

Allison Liby-Schoonover and husband Chris Schoonover, were recognized for their work on education industry issues.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.
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