Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Meet Jen Gaviria, one of the ’30 under 30′ rising stars of Florida politics

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Jen Gaviria is a great example of the “small world” principle of politics in the nation’s 3rd-largest state.

She got involved in The Process through the student government at Florida State University, just blocks away from the state Capitol where she now plies her trade.

Though she now works on such big-time issues like jet fuel tax exemptions and the legislative food fight between ticket retail giants like StubHub and TicketMaster, she humbly remembers the day when the policy items on her agenda dealt with FSU’s annual Pow Wow and how to spend student A&R fees, before heading off to law school and taking her talents to Adams Street.

Here’s Jen Gaviria in her own words.

I am … 29.

I live in … Tallahassee, Florida. I am originally from Weston in South Florida, and can honestly say that I never thought I would consider Tallahassee “home”… but I love it! If you knew me 11 years ago, then you’d understand – I went home to South Florida every other weekend.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to live in Italy for six months, and that was a life-changing experience! While living in a place and visiting a place are two different things, traveling is the most enriching life experience. In June 2016, I am headed back to Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru.

I got involved in politics …  through my involvement with FSU’s Student Government. As a student senator (thanks to my colleague Chris Schoonover), I had the honor of representing FSU’s student body at the Capitol and was introduced to then state Rep. Anitere Flores by our student government lobbyist and ironically my current boss, Nick Iarossi.

One principle I always put above politics is … My faith, family, and friends – I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive family, and friends that I consider family.

Person or people who gave me my first shot …  state Sen. Anitere Flores and the incredibly talented team at Capital City Consulting.

I’ve already worked for/on … I began working for the Florida House (as an intern) while I was a student at FSU. Since then, I ran a successful grassroots campaign to the Florida Senate (knocking on 15,000 doors in the district), and worked as a staffer in the Senate before leaving to attend law school. After graduating from law school, I joined Capital City Consulting and have had the privilege of representing our clients before Florida’s executive and legislative branches.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for … 
I immediately go to “Google News” and research the subject area to read recent news on it and acquaint myself with the issue. Then, I grab my 11×11 post-it note pad to jot down notes and organize my thoughts.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors … My parents worked incredibly hard to provide me with great opportunities, and led by example. I am forever grateful for the lessons I continue to learn from them.

The people I most admire in politics are … Good leaders, in all aspects of the political process, who are committed to excellence. It is easy to get bogged down with the politics of politics (hah!), but people with a vision who maintain their focus are those who I admire most.

One lesson I’ve already learned is … Know your issues inside out. It is important to understand the entire picture.

If I wasn’t working in politics … I would love to study wine and become a sommelier. Who wouldn’t like getting paid to study and taste wine?!

In 10 years, you’ll read about me … Well, I will be 39 then, so hopefully I will make the cut for “40 Under 40.”

You can connect with me on social media: @capcityconsult or @jenny5686 (but I don’t tweet…I’m a retweeter.) Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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