Florida’s largest lobbying firm is expanding its Tallahassee-based advocacy team with the addition of veteran campaign strategist and executive branch lobbyist Karis Lockhart.
Lockhart is joining The Southern Group after an extensive career in state and local campaigns. She brings with her expertise in policy and appropriations on issues ranging from economic growth and development to infrastructure, sustainability, resiliency and disaster response.
“Karis literally grew up in the political process and those early experiences have positioned her for untold success in Florida’s political arena,” Southern Group founder and chairman Paul Bradshaw said. “The depth of her contacts and the sophistication of her political strategies translate to wins, whether she’s on the campaign trail or in the halls of the Capitol. I’m confident our Southern clients are going to benefit from her addition to our advocacy team.”
Lockhart previously served as the Deputy Director of legislative and cabinet affairs for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), where she brought various agency priority issues to successful conclusion. There, she helped secure funding and establish policies supporting the state’s workforce, and successfully championed the state’s rural economic development grants programs. Other successes include implementation of the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program and the establishment of the Florida Office of Broadband.
“Karis’ knowledge and work ethic are beyond compare,” Rep. Wyman Duggan said. “She works tirelessly in support of the issues she champions, and I am certain she’ll be an immediate asset to her clients and represent them well.”
Lockhart’s campaign experience includes work for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 campaign where she cultivated relationships throughout Florida’s political landscape, including with city, county and regional contacts in Central Florida, where she is from.
“Karis Lockhart is a rare talent possessing the powerful combination of incredible drive and deep knowledge of our state’s political and administrative processes,” Tallahassee managing partner Rachel Cone said. “She has a long, bright future ahead of her at The Southern Group.”
Lockhart was recognized by INFLUENCE Magazine in 2019 and 2020 as one of Florida’s “Rising Stars” in the Florida political process. She currently serves on Sen. Marco Rubio’s Regional Service Academy Nomination Board.