Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis announced Friday additions to the senior team in the Executive Office of the Governor.
Joining Shane Strum, DeSantis’ chief of staff will be Deputy Chiefs of Staff James Blair and Adrian Lukis. Roger “Beau” Beaubien will serve as director of cabinet affairs and will have an enhanced portfolio in addition to that role. Stephanie Kopelousos and Helen Aguirre Ferré will serve as director of legislative affairs and director of communications, respectively.
“This team of professionals, working under the direction of Shane Strum, will mean that we will be ready on day one to deliver on promises made throughout the campaign to the people of Florida — to grow jobs, protect Florida’s natural environment, keep our communities safe and ensure every child has access to a quality education. I am proud to be rounding out my senior team with a group of experienced, smart and dedicated public servants who have committed themselves to building a better Florida,” the governor-elect said.
DeSantis explained in a prepared statement, Blair most recently managed the Transition Advisory Committee efforts, seeking and receiving stakeholder input on a wide variety of important issues for the governor-elect’s consideration as he takes office. Prior to the senior policy role on the transition and a senior political role in the DeSantis campaign, Blair served as a longtime political advisor to former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. He also led the political arm of the Republican Party of Florida’s House Majority effort during the 2016 election cycle, which successfully retained all incumbent seats and added an additional seat to the House Republican majority. Blair is a graduate of Florida State University, where he earned a B.S. in Finance.
“James is a smart and hard-working talent and I know he is dedicated to advancing the governor-elect’s agenda and vision for the future of our great state. I’m proud Gov.-elect DeSantis chose to put his confidence in James and I know he will be well served by his decision,” said former Speaker of the House Corcoran.
Lukis will join the DeSantis administration from his position as senior advisor to House Speaker Jose Oliva. Lukis began his career as an attorney in Orlando before moving to Tallahassee to work as committee attorney and deputy staff director in the House. Prior to his position in the speaker’s office, he served as deputy director of agenda development at RPOF. Lukis is a graduate of Florida State University and received his Juris Doctorate from the FSU College of Law.
“Adrian served the House in both the Office of the Majority Leader and the Speaker’s Office with distinction, ability and integrity. I have no doubt that he will serve Gov.-elect DeSantis with the same quality and energy. I wish him and the governor-elect all the best and look forward to working with them to continue the success story of Florida,” Oliva said.
Beau Beaubien served in the governor-elect’s Transition as the Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison, a role he also held during the DeSantis-Nuñez campaign. Prior to his role on the campaign, Beaubien served as special counsel for Cabinet and Legislative Affairs to Attorney General Pam Bondi. He spent several years in private practice with the Coates Law Firm in Tallahassee. Beaubien is a graduate of the University of Florida and the Florida State University College of Law.
“Beau is a brilliant and dedicated professional who is respected by legislators, his colleagues and all who have had the pleasure of working with him. He has been a trusted advisor and member of my team. He loves our state and will work well with the great group of professionals that has been assembled. I know the governor-elect and his administration will be well-served by Beau’s addition to his team,” said Bondi.
Stephanie Kopelousos, currently the county manager in Clay County, will join the DeSantis-Nuñez administration as the director of legislative affairs. Kopelousos brings a wealth of experience to the Governor’s Office, having previously served as secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation from 2007 to 2011, where she first served as chief of staff. A well-respected leader of one of the largest agencies in Florida government and a successful county administrator in her home county, Kopelousos joins the team ready to work with on behalf of Governor-elect DeSantis with the Legislature to advance a people-friendly agenda for Florida.
“I cannot imagine a better selection for the governor-elect’s legislative affairs team than Stephanie. She has the knowledge of the process, the respect of the legislators and all individuals with whom she works and the leadership skills to get the job done. Having known Stephanie and her family for many years, I could not be more proud of her,” said incoming Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, a Clay County Republican.
Helen Aguirre Ferré returns home to Florida after two years as White House director of media affairs and a brief time as director of strategic communications and public affairs at the National Endowment for the Arts. A gifted communicator, proven leader and well-respected professional, this Miami native brings a wealth of talent to the new administration. Her experience with the range of communication modes and her ability to help tell a story will help Floridians remember why we love our state and help them envision the vast opportunities we have before us. She received her M.A. in Inter-American studies from the University of Miami and her B.A. in Political Science from Barry University.
“Helen will be a great asset to Gov. DeSantis as she returns to her home state of Florida to continue her work in public service. Having worked at the White House, the National Endowment for the Arts as well as a successful career in journalism, her wealth of experience on a national level will be essential in her new position as she will communicate seamlessly in both English and Spanish, a big plus in a state such as Florida,” said Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Mary Anne Carter. “We will miss her greatly.”
“This is as impressive a group of professionals in the Governor’s Office as any I can remember. Working with the governor-elect and Shane, they will accomplish great things. As a Transition co-chair, I have watched them come together and could not be prouder of this team,” said former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux.
This senior staff team will begin their work together Jan. 9, immediately after DeSantis and Nuñez take their oaths of office.