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 also specializes in managerial & structural development advice for firms in the public relations industry

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.


Tim Touhy

Tim is a veteran public relations expert specializing in issues management, media strategy and reputation enhancement. In his 20-year career, Tim has received numerous awards for his leadership in crisis communications programs, public policy advocacy and strategic media relations. Tim works closely with his clients to develop tailored communication programs to support their business and organizational needs, drawing on his vast experience counseling CEO’s, CFO’s and corporate communication leaders.

Tim’s career includes both public sector and private sector experience. He served as deputy press secretary for former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar and as the chief spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the nation’s second largest prosecutorial office. He was also the director of communications and public affairs for Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV), one of the largest producers of commercial and military trucks, diesel engines and school buses. He also worked at the public relations firm of Hill + Knowlton Strategies in Chicago and Washington D.C.

Tim is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and is a professionally certified life and executive coach from the Coaches Training Institute. Tim serves on the board of directors of the The Agency Theater Collective, a non-profit theater company based in Chicago.


Chris McKay

Chris McKay is an accounts supervisor specializing in technology, events, business positioning, strategic positioning, branding, marketing, and reputation development. His focus has been on “start-up” entrepreneurial businesses. Chris is heavily involved in the tech startup community in Chicago. Aside from working closely with tech companies, he has spoken at InspireStartups and maintains office hours at 1871 at the Merchandise Mart. He has also presented on the social media strategy of the Obama presidential campaign at the Edgar Fellows Program on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Chris also focuses on internal communications, logo development, and corporate naming from a strategic perspective. Additionally, Chris creates and distributes fact sheets, press releases, Q&A documents, and coordinates media relations.

Prior to Hawthorne Strategy Group, Chris worked with start-ups and NGOs around the globe. He also 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 graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in philosophy.


Andrew Herrera

Andrew is an account manager at Hawthorne Strategy Group. Working in close collaboration with Gene Reineke and Tim Touhy, Andrew is a key member of the Get Covered Illinois team specializing in small business outreach.

Before joining our team, Andrew performed strategic market research for the trade and investment arm of the Scottish government, Scottish Development International. He has since spent 8 months working as a consultant for a hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Andrew holds a dual B.A. & B.S. in Spanish & Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his time there he served as outreach coordinator for The Immigrant Helpline (an immigrant resource and advocacy center). He also studied the social implications of international economic policy.


Marisa Coulter

Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Marisa is currently enrolled at DePaul University. She is pursuing her bachelors in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Graphic Design. Marisa joined Hawthorne Strategy Group in June as an Intern. In her spare time, she enjoys extending her communications skillset as a member on the PR committee of DePaul University’s Colleges Against Cancer organization. Marisa enjoys singing, kayaking, cooking and antiquing.


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


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


Administrative Assistant in the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s office


Campaign staff for Illinois governor candidate James R. Thompson


Scheduler for Gov. James R. Thompson


Ran boards & commissions appointment process for Gov. Thompson


Director of Governor’s Office of Public Affairs


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


Directed BUILD ILLINOIS, a $2.3 billion infrastructure redevelopment program


Headed the Governor’s Office of Personnel


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


Member of gubernatorial cabinet, Illinois Department of Central Management Services


Reineke’s final year serving Governor Thompson


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


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


Executive Assistant for Economic Development for Illinois Governor Jim Edgar


Chief of Staff to Gov. Jim Edgar


Budget discussions with Gov. Jim Edgar


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


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


Named General Manager of Hill & Knowlton’s Chicago office


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


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


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


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


Resumed General Manager responsibilities of the firm’s Chicago office


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


Assumed responsibility for Hill & Knowlton’s Southern California operations


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


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


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


Founded Hawthorne Strategy Group