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Jerry M. Ray - PrincipalAbout Us

Jerry M. Ray, President

For more than 30 years, Jerry M. Ray has held senior positions in corporate, political, and government organizations, developing, integrating, and implementing complex business, public affairs, and communications strategies.

Throughout his career, he has developed strategies for organizations during periods of major transition, often under duress. Neither deadlines, nor crises, intimidate him. He has managed messages and communications processes in periods of growth as well as contraction, for acquisitions as well as divestitures, and for entrepreneurial start-ups as well as senior-management succession.

He is a trusted business partner of senior executives, unit managers and line employees, and has built strong relationships with elected officials, community leaders, government regulators, and senior reporters.

 

The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE)
Jacksonville, FL
November 1997 to December 2009

Most recently, Ray served as senior vice president for external affairs at The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE), one of the largest landowners and real estate developers in Florida. As the company’s chief communications and public affairs officer, he was responsible for advancing St. Joe’s vision and values with a vast array of external stakeholders. He elected to leave the company at the end of 2009, after a corporate change in control.

At St. Joe, Ray was instrumental in the planning, entitlement, and funding of the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport that opened near Panama City Beach, FL on May 23rd of this year. Ray also led a successful region-wide effort to bring Southwest Airlines to the new airport.

Senior Executive Leader

Reporting to St. Joe’s chief executive officer, Ray was a member of St. Joe’s senior executive and corporate disclosure committees, participating in the development and implementation of St. Joe’s business strategy.

Ray has extensive experience working with boards of directors, investment bankers, security analysts, lenders, outside counsel and regulators, along with executives of partner, target, and acquirer companies.

When St. Joe’s primary shareholder sought to reduce its ownership of the company, Ray managed communications surrounding a series of secondary offerings, block sales, and share-repurchase programs that reduced their stake from more than 70 to less than 5 percent. During the process, average daily trading volume of the company’s securities increased by 800 percent.

Throughout his tenure at St. Joe, Ray led a staff of employees and consultants responsible for corporate communications, business alliances, public-debate management, government relations, and economic development.

High-Stakes Public Debate Manager

St. Joe became a recognized leader in large-scale master planning with a regional approach to responsible land use. Ray managed the national and state public debate evoked by St. Joe’s development vision for its million acres in Northwest Florida. Over a decade, St. Joe successfully launched more than 50 major development projects. The largest was the 71,000-acre West Bay Sector in Bay County, FL anchored by the new international airport. Ray managed a regional team in an intense public debate throughout the new airport’s approval, funding, and litigation process. He led the creation of alliances and coalitions to build third-party support for the project, including a formal relationship with The National Audubon Society that resulted in the preservation of more than 40,000 acres of some of Mother Nature’s best work. The $330 million international airport was the first to be built in the U.S. since the completion of DIA in Denver.

Message Development Expert

Acting as St. Joe’s chief consensus officer, Ray worked with other senior executives to create and refine corporate messages that were incorporated into business models, investement theses, internal communications, government-relations initiatives, real esatate development programs, and marketing materials. St. Joe was considered a “story stock,” and accordingly, Ray’s focus was an integrated corporate narrative designed to be memorable, transparent, and clear.

He became a coach and counselor for other senior executives and board members preparing messages and materials for shifts in business models, investor presentations, public hearings, confrontational congressional testimony, and hostile media interviews.

Seasoned Media Relations Specialist

Change makes news, and Ray has extensive on-the-record connections with top-tier media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, Bloomberg News, CNN, and Fox News.

At St. Joe, Ray managed crises caused by hurricanes, protests, and legal challenges. Over his career, he has given and managed thousands of interviews, media tours, and news conferences. He has organized and conducted scores of editorial-board presentations throughout the country.

Corporate Communications Architect

In 1997, when Peter S. Rummell, chairman of Walt Disney Imagineering, became chairman and CEO of what had been St. Joe Paper Company, Ray was a member of the original executive team Rummell brought in to transform the aging industrial conglomerate into a dynamic real estate developer.

Ray led the creation of an integrated brand for the reborn St. Joe, which included a new corporate name, graphics package, and stock market symbol. From the conception of St. Joe’s real estate business model, Ray was the company’s communications architect. He created from scratch an external affairs infrastructure for the multi-billion dollar, publicly traded company and the largest landowner in Northwest Florida.

Stakeholder Alliance Builder

Ray advanced St. Joe’s objectives by aligning them with the interests of diverse organizations. He built and managed strategic alliances made up of a wide range of strategic partners.

Because of its industrial papermaking legacy, St. Joe needed to earn credibility as a developer of critically acclaimed homes and places. To accomplish this objective, Ray created and led a strategic alliance with Time, Inc., the publishers of Southern Living, Coastal Living, and Southern Accents. The alliance, which included St. Joe’s creative team and building-product manufactures, produced a dozen Idea Homes over eight years, each with extensive coverage in the three publications. The coverage positioned St. Joe as a highly sophisticated developer and significantly raised the profile of its residential and resort projects.

 

Powell Tate
Washington, DC
August 1991 – November 1997

Prior to going to St. Joe, Ray was one of the founders and a senior vice president of Powell Tate, a Washington public affairs firm. At Powell Tate, he focused on public-debate management, crisis communications, media training, and congressional testimony preparation. Ray grew his practice to be the firm’s largest, with clients that included Delta Air Lines, General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed Martin, and The Walt Disney Company.

 

Burson-Marsteller
Washington, DC
September 1988 – August 1991

As Senior Vice President at Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations and communications company, Ray developed messages and prepared messengers involved in crisis situations, congressional debates, major financial transactions, and international initiatives.

 

Press Secretary, U.S. Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama
Washington, DC
August 1981 – September 1988

Ray was press secretary to U.S. Senator Howell Heflin, (D-AL). In that position, he developed communications strategy and managed national and state media relationships.

Ray handled media relations during the hearings conducted by the U.S. Senate Iran Contra Committee and the confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominees held by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He also participated in the proceedings of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on antitrust and intellectual property rights. He served as communications director for the “Keating Five Hearings” conducted by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

 

University Relations, Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama
May 1972 – August 1981

As assistant director of university relations, Ray managed message development for the full range of university stakeholders. He served as the university’s spokesperson, overseeing its news bureau and broadcast services. He worked with members of the faculty to promote new research initiatives.

 

Education and Other Interests

Ray holds an undergraduate degree in communications from Auburn University and a graduate degree in mass communications from the University of Alabama. He is a high-energy self-starter, an accomplished storyteller, and an excellent public speaker. Ray has served on the board of directors of Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, on the executive board of Florida’s Great Northwest, Inc. (Northwest Florida’s regional economic development organization), and on the board of the St. Joe Community Foundation.

He is a member of the U.S. Senate Press Secretaries Association, where he has served as a board member and officer. With Sally Field and Beau Bridges, he appeared as a reporter extra in the motion picture, Norma Rae, directed by Martin Ritt.

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