When Justin D. Ross resigned from the House of Delegates in 2012, it felt like a big deal.
Ross was only 36 at the time, a rising star in Annapolis and in Prince George’s County politics, with a decade of legislative service under his belt. He told The Washington Post he was tired of being “a part-time father.” But his decision to move on was also seen as an indictment of the slow pace of advancement for most state lawmakers in the legislative power structure.
Ross certainly did all right for himself. Within months, he was joining forces with several other smart Annapolis operatives to form Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson (PWRJ), which quickly became one of the most successful government relations firms in the state. Ross parlayed his close ties to House leaders into annual earnings that routinely hovered around the half million-dollar mark, and the lead partner of the firm, Timothy A. Perry, a one-time chief of staff to the late Senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D), annually cleared $1 million in earnings.
At home, Ross remained a powerbroker. He became a confidant to Prince George’s County Executives Rushern L. Baker III (D) and Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) and other political leaders. A former commercial real estate broker, he also became a top strategist and cheerleader for economic development projects in the county.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ross and PWRJ will announce the next move in his professional progression — and it also feels like a big deal. Lobbyists come and go all the time in Annapolis, but most remain tethered to State Circle and the government relations trade, sometimes jumping from firm to firm. He is leaving the lobbying practice almost entirely to pursue a new career in the sports and entertainment industry. Beginning July 1, Ross will serve as senior vice president of Global Sports Programming for Next Level Sports & Entertainment (NLSE), which was recently purchased by former Obama administration Defense Department official and tech entrepreneur Andre Gudger, who happens to be a UMBC graduate.