Rachel Cone

Rachel Cone joins Southern Strategy Group after more than a decade of service in the highest levels of local and state governments. Rachel served as the Interim Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), where she successfully shepherded the department’s policy agenda and $11 billion budget across the finish line of the 2017 legislative session.

During her time at FDOT she also served as the Assistant Secretary for Finance and Administration, overseeing the offices of work program and budget, finance, procurement, technology, human resources, performance management and other administrative functions. She managed three of the largest transportation work programs in state history and represented the department in front of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Treasury, Fitch and Moody’s rating agencies.

Rachel also directed changes to how the department finances the work program, and successfully advocated for statutory changes that resulted in a new financing vehicle for the department. This allows the department to fund additional, major transportation projects at a lower cost. She also oversaw the reorganization of the department’s technology offices, which resulted in a culture shift for the department in how it prioritizes, spends and manages transportation-specific and traditional technologies.

In 2012, Governor Rick Scott appointed Rachel to serve as his Deputy Chief of Staff, where she was responsible for advising him on statewide issues, appointments to boards and commissions and providing guidance and direction to 14 state and quasi-governmental agencies on operational and management issues, including policy, budget, communication, legislative strategy and agency priorities. Those agencies were the Departments of Business and Professional Regulation, Citrus, Emergency Management, Economic Opportunity, Environmental Protection (and Water Management Districts) and Transportation. Also included under her purview were Florida Wildlife Commission, Space Florida, Visit Florida, Volunteer Florida and CareerSource Florida.

Rachel previously served as the External Affairs Director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection where she directed planning and statewide communications strategies for the department, and coordinated communications efforts with Florida’s five water management districts. This included topics such as renewed water management district oversight, various departmental restructuring, the health of Florida’s springs, Governor Scott’s Everglades Restoration Strategies plan and Florida’s ongoing recovery after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Prior to her family’s move to Tallahassee, Rachel served on the executive leadership team in the Mayor John Peyton administration in Jacksonville. Rachel began her career as a military reporter at the Florida Times-Union.

Rachel is a proud graduate of Auburn University. She and her family are active members of Trinity United Methodist Church, and Rachel serves as a member of the Board of Trustees at Holy Comforter Episcopal School in Tallahassee.