TALLAHASSEE — Cynthia O'Connell, a communications professional with ties to Tallahassee and higher education, is Gov. Rick Scott's pick to lead the Florida Lottery.
Contrary to the majority of Scott's 10 secretary appointments, O'Connell brings capital city ties to her new role. Before becoming chief executive of her Tallahassee media consulting firm, O'Connell Consulting, she was a senior vice president of Hill and Knowlton and started the public relations firm's Tallahassee branch.
O'Connell had served as the lottery's division director of research and promotions, the Governor's Office said.
The widow of Florida Supreme Court justice and former University of Florida president Stephen C. O'Connell, she recently wrapped up her second five-year term as a UF trustee. Her online trustee bio lists the lottery as one of her public relations clients when she worked at BSMG Worldwide.
O'Connell takes over an agency that employs 400 people with a $135 million budget. The lottery has lost its luster in recent years thanks to the expanding popularity of casinos, online gaming and parimutuels.
"Cindy brings an impressive record of leadership and brand management to the Florida Lottery and will improve the agency's important mission of maximizing revenues for the enhancement of public education in Florida," Scott said in a statement.
O'Connell declined to comment when reached by phone. She said the governor's press office would field media questions, but the office did not respond to a request for O'Connell's salary and start date.
Fifteen agency heads remain unnamed.