About Gene Reineke A proven partner with
over 30 years experience

Gene Reineke

Gene Reineke

Gene is a senior executive with 30 years of experience in developing and positioning communication and public policy objectives, as well as personnel management responsibilities, in both the private and public sectors for c-suite executives and senior government officials. He specializes in senior corporate communications consulting for Fortune 500 companies focusing on issues management (including crisis response), executive positioning, thought leadership, media relations strategy, and reputation protection and enhancement as well as community and government relations.

Gene spent 18 years working in Illinois state government in the administrations of former Governors James R. Thompson and Jim Edgar. Reineke served in a wide variety of positions in both administrations including as a member of the cabinet (Illinois Dept. of Central Management Services) and as Chief of Staff to the Governor.

After his public service, Reineke joined the international public relations and public affairs firm of Hill + Knowlton Strategies. His various positions with the agency includes serving as Chief Operating Officer for the U.S., U.S. Director of Client Service, and running at various times the firm’s offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Southern California, while overseeing other offices in Texas, Florida, and the Pacific Northwest.

Reineke also did “on-site” assignments at H+K Strategies’ clients including at AIG during the economic implosion in the US during 2008/2009, as well as becoming the interim Chief Communications Officer for Cigna during the lead up in 2009/2010 to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

In June, 2012 Reineke decided to leave H+K Strategies after more than 14 years to start his own firm, Hawthorne Strategy Group based in Chicago. The firm’s very first client was Aflac and since has grown to represent clients in the retail, aviation, railroad, media, real estate, and technology sectors. Reineke has also worked as a facilitator for the Illinois State Senate Republican caucus and lectured at an executive education program for the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business as well as the Edgar Fellows program at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign campus.

chris-mckay

Chris McKay

Chris McKay is an account supervisor for the Hawthorne Strategy Group. Chris works closely with the firm’s founder Gene Reineke on a daily basis. Chris specializes in social media, website development, and digital strategies. He focuses on the technology sector and “start-up” entrepreneurial businesses.

Prior to Hawthorne Strategy Group, Chris observed start-ups and NGOs all over the globe as he taught English and traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and Africa. Chris has experience working with Non-Governmental Organizations in Switzerland and the top rehabilitation hospital in the U.S. (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Chris was invited to, and has spoken at the Edgar Fellows program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

Chris graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in philosophy.

photoJosh Harmon

Josh is an account manager at Hawthorne Strategy Group. Working in close collaboration with both Gene and Chris, Josh conducts targeted research for clients and leverages the group’s extensive professional network to ensure Hawthorne’s approach best fits the needs of our clients. Josh maintains clear, open communication channels and performs continuous research to validate strategies and maximize effectiveness.

Before joining the team at Hawthorne, Josh performed campaign research and strategy implementation for a 2014 Illinois Gubernatorial candidate. He also spent time with ManpowerGroup, an industry-leading Human Resources firm, serving a myriad of clients across Illinois.

Josh holds a B.A. degree in global studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his time there he served as the International Protocol Intern for the Office of International Engagement where he coordinated with international embassies and the World Bank. He also studied policy implications of the Arab Spring on site in Rabat, Morocco.

1979

Intern for U.S. House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, D-Mass.

1980

Campaign staff for Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Dave O’Neal

1981

Administrative Assistant in the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s office

1982

Campaign staff for Illinois governor candidate James R. Thompson

1983

Scheduler for Gov. James R. Thompson

1984

Ran boards & commissions appointment process for Gov. Thompson

1985

Director of Governor’s Office of Public Affairs

1986

Campaign manager for Illinois U.S. Senate candidate George Ranney

1986

Directed BUILD ILLINOIS, a $2.3 billion infrastructure redevelopment program

1987

Headed the Governor’s Office of Personnel

1988

Campaign for Presidency: George H W Bush vs. Michael Dukakais

1989

Member of gubernatorial cabinet, Illinois Department of Central Management Services

1990

Reineke’s final year serving Governor Thompson

1991

Executive Director, Illinois Republican Party and Executive Director, Citizens for Jim Edgar

1992

Ran Pres. George H.W. Bush’s Illinois campaign

1993

Executive Assistant for Economic Development for Illinois Governor Jim Edgar

1994

Chief of Staff to Gov. Jim Edgar

1995

Budget discussions with Gov. Jim Edgar

1996

Attending National Governors Association meeting with Gov. Jim Edgar. Last year that Illinois Republicans controlled the General Assembly

1998

Joined international public relations firm Hill & Knowlton as Director of Public Affairs

1999

Named General Manager of Hill & Knowlton’s Chicago office

2000

Reineke discusses presidential campaign strategy with Texas Governor George W. Bush

2001

Named Chief Operating Officer of Hill & Knowlton U.S.

2003

Served as General Manager of Hill & Knowlton’s Washington, D.C. office

2004

Appointed head of Hill & Knowlton’s Public Affairs practice in the U.S.

2005

Resumed General Manager responsibilities of the firm’s Chicago office

2006

Reineke begins relationship with Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business

2007

Assumed responsibility for Hill & Knowlton’s Southern California operations

2008

Reineke supports former NYC Mayor Rudolph Guiliani’s presidential candidacy. Gene helped direct the crisis communications response team for AIG.

2009

Served as interim Chief Communications Officer for Cigna Corp., and led the company’s communication response through the debate and passage of the Affordable Care Act

2011

Named U.S. client service Director for Hill + Knowlton Strategies

2012

Founded Hawthorne Strategy Group