In the run-up to his Jan. 8 inauguration, Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis is building his administration, appointing people to head state agencies. Here are five he’s named so far, with background information provided by the governor’s office:
Ken Lawson for Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
Lawson was previously Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and CEO of the state’s public-private tourism agency, VISIT FLORIDA. Lawson served as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Marine Corps. (DeSantis was also a JAG – in the U.S. Navy).
A native Floridian, Lawson received his bachelor’s and law degrees from Florida State University. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. In 2001, he was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Enforcement for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he oversaw several federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. efforts combating terrorist financing. Lawson also served as Assistant Chief Counsel for Field Operations with the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration.
Jamal Sowell, recommended by DeSantis as CEO for Enterprise Florida, Inc.
Sowell is currently chief of staff at Port Tampa Bay. His appointment must be confirmed by the Enterprise Florida’s Board of Directors. Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership that works to recruit businesses to Florida.
Sowell is a former U.S. Marine, serving in Afghanistan, and is a University of Florida alumni. He has a Masters of Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with coursework in 19th Century American Literature at Amherst College. He has a law degree from Indiana University’s Bloomington Maurer School of Law, where he was a Pat Tillman Scholar. During his time in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence appointed Sowell to a state board regulating health facility administrators.
Republican State Rep. Halsey Beshears, to head the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
DeSantis applauded Beshears as a “champion for deregulation, streamlining and pro-business policies.” Beshears represented a sprawling Panhandle district in the rural areas surrounding Tallahassee. Beshears has been involved in numerous businesses, including commercial property management, bicycle equipment and sales, retail nurseries, and a wholesale agriculture company. He holds a B.S. degree in Social Science from the Florida State University and a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship from the University of Florida.
Republican State Rep. Danny Burgess for Executive Director of Florida’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Burgess served as a Captain and Judge Advocate in the United States Army Reserve. He was elected to represent eastern Pasco County in the Florida House of Representatives in 2014, and was subsequently re-elected in 2016 and 2018. Prior to joining the Florida House of Representatives, Burgess served on the Zephyrhills City Council and as Mayor of Zephyrhills. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida and his Juris Doctorate from Barry University School of Law.
Melinda Miguel, as Chief Inspector General.
Since 2000, Miguel has served as an inspector general in multiple capacities, including at the Government Publishing Office, deputy inspector general at the Architect of the Capitol, chief inspector general of the State of Florida under two governors, and inspector general of the Florida State Board of Administration, Florida Attorney General’s Office, Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Miguel is a certified inspector general, certified financial services auditor, certified business manager, certified internal controls auditor, certified cybercrimes investigator, certified construction auditor, certified Florida contract manager, and a certified project management professional. She also was previously a certified government financial manager and certified fraud examiner. Miguel holds a Master’s Certificate in Local Government Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Florida State University.