An Interview with Ryan West


For Ryan West, the Chief of Staff for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is more than just the leader in championing free enterprise. To him, it is the place where he found a start to his career.

West, a graduate of Florida State University, and former Policy Director of Economic Development and Education for the Florida Chamber credits the enterprise with allowing him to get a ground-level view of what it means to advocate for a free market.

“When I was getting my Master’s degree, I interned with the Florida Chamber’s Government Affairs Department for the 2006 legislative session,” West said. “I learned a lot about the legislative process. I think that time at the chamber built the foundation for the rest of my career.”

It was during a Florida Chamber event West was able to meet his future boss, CFO Patronis.

“The first time I met CFO Patronis was at one of the Political Institute meetings. That is how our professional relationship began and it’s probably a large reason that I am in the position that I am.”

West took over as Chief of Staff for CFO Patronis in August after Robert “Budd” Kneip retired. He previously served as the chief advisor to Patronis during his time as the commissioner on Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC). Commissioners Ronald A. Brise and Ben “Steve” Stevens, III also enlisted West as a chief advisor while at the PSC.  West cites accountability in the workplace as one of the primary traits that have carried over from his tenure in the Florida Chamber to his role now as Chief of Staff.

“The two biggest things that I learned that still apply today are how to pay attention to detail and being accountable to supervisors that were very focused on providing value to their members and to the state of Florida,” West said. “The people I was able to work with and the connections I was able to make were invaluable. Working with Marian [Johnson], David Hart, Mark Wilson and folks like that allowed me to advance my career.”

In a press release announcing the move, CFO Patronis cited the working history between him and West as one of the determining factors in the decision.

“Ryan has been a trusted member of my team since day one, and there is no one better suited to serve as my second in command,” Patronis said in a statement. “His instincts and experience have afforded him the tools to do the job, and I have full confidence that he will successfully lead our team for years to come.”

While West may not be at the Florida Chamber anymore, he continues to dedicate himself to securing Florida’s future and championing free enterprise.

“Free enterprise allows the individual to succeed when opponents of free enterprise want to consolidate power with the government. It allows you to go out and build something with your own mind or your own hands and prosper from the fruits of your labor,” West said. “It values the work of the individual more than government entities and we can never turn our back on that.

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