Meet Adam Giery & Carolyn Johnson — two of the “30 under 30″ rising stars in Florida politics

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Adam Giery, 27, credits the Gubernatorial Fellows program for providing his first experience in public policy.

“This program fostered an environment that allowed me to explore state government while guiding me towards my first career,” Adam writes.   From there, Adam has worked for the Executive Office of the Governor, the  Division of Florida Colleges, and the University of Central Florida.  Today, Adam serves as the director of talent, education and quality of life for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Adam credits his mentors — Chris Hart, Fred Leonhardt, Mike Hightower, Marybeth Ehasz, Will Holcomb, and his father — for guiding his ascent and for embodying what he considers the most valuable principle: integrity.

Adam explains: “It has been my experience that those individuals who participate in the political process while maintaining their integrity and treating people with respect are those who are both personally and professionally successful.”

In ten years, we will be reading about Adam having started a nonprofit, teaching at the college level and owning his own business.

Last tweet from @AdamGiery: “Classic. I wish we could do a throw back phone day at the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/tw7CIIaIZH

Carolyn Johnson, 29, is a St. Pete native and graduate of the University of Central Florida who entered politics as “an accident.” 

“A passion turned into a job, which then turned into a career,” Carolyn writes. “I love not only knowing what’s going on in our government, but that I can make a difference. “

She has worked as a research assistant to UCF University Relations, in the offices of Rep. David Mealor and Rep. Chris Dorworth, was deputy campaign manager for the “yes on Amendment 4” campaign in 2012, and served as chairman of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans.  Currently, Carolyn works as policy director for business, economic development and innovation with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Through this, Caroyln has learned that politics shouldn’t be personal and that she can still be friends with people on the “other side” of whatever issue she is working on.  Likewise, she admires people in politics who are in it for the right reasons and not because of their ego.  Be on the lookout for more to come from this rising star.

Here is Adam in his own words, followed by a profile of Carolyn.

I am 27 years-young.

I live in Tallahassee and I am from Orlando . I went to school at The University of Central Florida. I am planning on traveling by train across the country and I hope to travel to Europe in the near future.     

I entered politics because I was teacher in a public school and quickly realized that we needed to make some serious changes to our state’s education system. As cliché as this may sound, I knew that no matter how much effort I put forth in my classroom, I was never going to be able to tackle systemic challenges without engaging in the develop of public policy.  I wanted to be a vested stakeholder in the decision making process of our elected officials and that desire led me to Tallahassee.   

One principle I always put above politics is integrity.  It has been my experience that those individuals who participate in the political process while maintaining their integrity and treating people with respect are those who are both personally and professionally successful.

Person or people who gave me my first shot: I credit the Gubernatorial Fellows program for providing me with my first experience in public policy.  This program fostered an environment that allowed me to explore state government while guiding me towards my first career.  I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in a career in public policy or state government. 

Ive already worked for/on:

The Executive Office of the Governor

The Division of Florida Colleges

The University of Central Florida 

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for the ability to learn from a new experience or individual, while also being able to have a significant lasting impact. 

Ive been blessed to have these people as my mentors:

Chris Hart – President & CEO of Workforce Florida

Fred Leonhardt –  Director at Gray Robinson Law Firm

Mike Hightower –  V.P. Gov & Legislative Relations at Florida Blue

Dr. Marybeth Ehasz- Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Services at the University of Central Florida

Dr. Will Holcomb – Fmr. Chancellor of the Florida College System and Interim President at Florida State College at Jacksonville

Pat Giery –  Father 

The people I most admire in politics are: Those who do not take themselves too seriously, while at the same time staying true to their personal principles.

One lesson Ive already learned is Never underestimate the importance of humility and the power of hard work.  I have found that these two qualities coupled with intelligence can make for a truly transformative leader.   

If I wasnt working in politics, Id be working in the field of higher education and/or being an entrepreneur.  I have owned several small ventures and found the experience of operating each business to be very fulfilling. However, working in academia and being surrounded by a creative environment would also be rewarding. 

In ten years, youll read about me starting my own nonprofit, teaching as an adjunct professor and owning my own business.

You can connect with me via (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Twitter: @AdamGiery

LinkedIn: Adam Giery            

Email: [email protected]

Carolyn Johnson

I am 29 years-young.

I live in Tallahassee… Am from Saint Petersburg …. I went to school at University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). I hope to visit (which place) soon enough- I have to choose just one place?  Let’s just say I look forward to going on multiple trips now that session is over to visit friends.

I entered politics because… honestly, it was an accident.  A passion turned into a job, which then turned into a career.  I love not only knowing what’s going on in our government, but that I can make a difference.

One principle I always put above politics is… Honesty

Person or people who gave me my first shot: Greg Shuckman, Dr. Holsenbeck and Fred Kittinger at UCF, then Julie Fess and Sharon Spratt hired me to work for former State Representative David Mealor

I’ve already worked for/on: Research Assistant at UCF University Relations, District Assistant to Representative David Mealor, District Assistant and Legislative Assistant to Representative Chris Dorworth, Deputy Campaign Manager for the Yes on Amendment 4 Campaign in 2012, and served as Chairman of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans.  I have also volunteered on various campaigns during my time in politics.  I currently am the Policy Director for Business, Economic Development and Innovation for the Florida Chamber of Commerce

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for… the quality of the issue or candidate.  I have so far been blessed to work on both issues and for people that I believe in.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors: Julie Fess, Sharon Spratt, Chris Dorworth, and my “official” mentor and grand mentors Sarah Martinez and Kelly Horton.  More recently, I have started to learn a lot from Mark Delegal, David Daniel and Vicki Weber

The people I most admire in politics are: those that are in it for the right reasons and not because of their ego.

One lesson I’ve already learned is… that I can still be friends with those on the “other side” of whatever issue I am working on.  Politics shouldn’t be personal.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in… I’d probably be a scientist or an engineer

In ten years, you’ll read about me… 10 years is a long time.  If you told me 10 years ago I would be where I am today, I would have laughed.  I eventually would like to contract lobby and branch out to do some federal lobbying as well.  Maybe one day have my own firm or be a partner.  Not sure where that all fits into the 10 year picture.

You can connect with me via Facebook: /carolynj84; Twitter- @carolynj84.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been 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.