Skyboat Lobbyists

 

Rob LehmanWilmer Hale

Senior Public Policy Advisor

 

Co-Chair, Legislative Affairs and Public Policy Practice

 
 

Rob Lehman focuses on government relations and developing and implementing strategies to help clients achieve their objectives in Congress and in Federal agencies. With more than 20 years of experience on Capitol Hill, he is well-equipped to address critical issues ranging from trade, tax, energy, homeland security, transportation and financial services to healthcare, competition and intellectual property. Mr. Lehman is co-chair of the firm’s Legislative Affairs and Public Policy Practice.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Lehman served as Chief of Staff to Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). As Chief of Staff, he led policy and strategic development and implementation of Senator Portman’s legislative priorities, including the introduction of 65 bipartisan bills. Mr. Lehman also previously served as Chief of Staff for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Chief of Staff for the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and senior leadership aide to a member in the US House of Representatives.  

In addition, Mr. Lehman previously managed federal and state government relations for a top international law firm, where he represented Fortune 100 companies, trade associations and non-profit organizations before the executive and legislative branches of government.

As Senior Public Policy Advisor, Mr. Lehman’s practice is limited to US legislative and executive branch lobbying matters.

 

Brian D. Ballard, President

Named among the top Republicans in Florida by Campaign & Elections Politics, Brian has earned a reputation as a tireless, persistent and effective advocate for his clients' interests. His accomplishments have spanned over 25 years and includes legislative successes on hundreds of policy and funding initiatives in Florida.

Brian's political portfolio includes significant roles in presidential campaigns including the historic election of President Donald J. Trump. He was an integral player in the President's successful Florida campaign serving as Chairman of Trump Victory and leading the campaign's finance efforts in Florida. Brian also had the honor of serving a as a member of the Electoral College casting his vote for President Trump. The President-elect appointed Brian to serve as Vice Chairman of the Inaugural Committee and as a member of the Presidential Transition Finance Committee.

As one of the top political insiders in Florida, Brian has worked on several presidential and gubernatorial campaigns during his career. He chaired the Florida Finance Committee of Republican nominees John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Brian and his wife Kathryn were selected by two Florida Governors to plan and execute their inaugural ceremony and events, serving as Co-Chairs of the inauguration of both Governor Rick Scott and Governor Charlie Crist.

Among his important public service experience, Brian was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Advisory Council, and also directed the transition and assisted in the U.S. Senate confirmation of Governor Bob Martinez as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Drug Czar) in the Executive Office of the President.

As chief of staff in the Executive Office of the Governor, Brian developed a special interest in environmental issues. Among his accomplishments, he served as chief architect of Preservation 2000, the largest public acquisition program for environmentally sensitive lands in the nation. He also served as Florida's chief negotiator with the U.S. Department of the Interior to end offshore drilling along the state's southeast coastline and the Florida Keys. The American Lawyer magazine rated Brian as one of America's top rated lawyers in the field of Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources law.

Committed to community service, Brian has been a member of the Council of 100, the Collins Center for Public Policy, Florida Governor's Mansion Foundation, and the City of Tallahassee Architectural Review Board. He has received Florida's highest award for historic preservation recognizing his efforts involving preservation of historic buildings. In 2016, Brian and Kathyrn were inducted into Florida State University's Francis Eppes Society for their philanthropic support to the University.

Before establishing Ballard Partners, Brian served as managing shareholder for Bryant Miller Olive P.A. He currently serves as counsel to Panza, Maurer & Maynard, P.A. He received both his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida, where he was later inducted into the University's Hall of Fame.


Tom Apodaca, Founder, Managing Partner

Mix a lifetime of business experience with over a decade in elected office – the past 5 atop the State Senate – and you get Tom Apodaca's unique ability to deliver for his clients by bridging private-sector challenges with good public policy. Apodaca, the freshly retired Senate Rules Chairman, is the founder and Managing Partner of Vista Strategies. The new firm specializes in lobbying, corporate consulting, strategy and economic development.

Tom and his wife, Lisa – a retired public school teacher – have been married 36 years. They have two sons, Brandon (33) a fly-fishing expert in Western North Carolina, and Tate (29), who’s chasing real estate dreams in Colorado. Tom and Lisa split their time between Raleigh and Hendersonville.