In the Departure Lounge: Several high-profile staffers and lobbyists

Silhouettes passenger airport. Airline travel concept.

Summertime often sees a flurry of personnel moves in the world of government and politics. Continuing this occasional series, we update you on who’s in the Departure Lounge.

First up in the Lounge is Fred Piccolo, the former Communications Director and spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Speaker José Oliva. Piccolo has left his position as Executive Vice Chancellor for the Florida Department of Education’s college system and is now the Communications Director at the Florida Justice Association.

As first reported by POLITICO Florida, Mr. Meerkat, Matthew Mears, is leaving his position as the Department of Education’s general counsel to run the state’s Division of Early Learning.

Another high-profile flyer in the Departure Lounge is Paige Davis. Previously a Deputy Chief of Staff to Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Davis, who was the campaign manager of Patronis’ first race, is transitioning to the Republican’s reelection campaign, where she will be an in-house fundraiser. Davis is also moving to Jacksonville to be closer to her husband, Nick Primrose.

Emily Duda Buckley, a truly generous and kind person who spent the last two years as Director Legislative Affairs at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is now a lobbyist at the Dean Mead lobbying firm, where she will rejoin former colleagues, Marc Dunbar and Chris Moya. Meanwhile, Carlos Nathan, who had served as Buckley’s deputy, has been promoted to Director.

Smart guy Chris Emmanuel, who had been the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s primary advocate for transportation, utilities, energy, and property rights issues, is now in Chris Spencer‘s shop — the Office of Policy and Budget — in DeSantis’ office. Also new to OPB are Melissa Smith and Michael Wilson, who moved over from the Florida House.

BillieAnne Gay, a fierce competitor in our TallyMadness tournaments, exits her position as Director of Legislative & Advocacy Services at the Florida School Boards Association. “BillieAnne has been instrumental in leading our advocacy services for the past several years and will be greatly missed,” said Andrew Messina, the Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association. We already know what Gay’s next move is, but it deserves a full write-up, so check back on that later this week.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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