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Cynthia McCafferty

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As President and CEO of Hawthorne Strategy Group, Cynthia McCafferty provides Hawthorne clients with an unrelenting commitment to service. Don’t let her title fool you, Cynthia does more than manage internal operations and lead new business development. Our fearless leader loves leading a small firm because she still gets to roll up her sleeves and work side-by-side with her team and our wide array of clients.

Cynthia joined Hawthorne in 2015, after nearly two decades at FleishmanHillard International Communications in St. Louis, where she served as a senior vice president and senior partner. While at FH, Cynthia became an expert in strategy and integrated campaign management. One of Cynthia’s final projects at FH was leading the Get Covered Illinois campaign alongside her future Hawthorne colleagues, Gene Reineke and Wendi Taylor Nations. Through this joint campaign, which won a half dozen awards, Illinois enrolled nearly 1 million residents for health insurance and placed Illinois as a national leader in ACA implementation.

Following the success of that partnership, Cynthia brought her talents to Hawthorne where she has been elevating communication programs for clients ever since. Her clientele has included the Women’s Business Development Center, Chicago Dental Society, and the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, along with national and international brands such as SAC Wireless, Evinrude, and Red Bull.  


Under Cynthia’s leadership, the Hawthorne team developed a fresh identity for Chicago’s McCormick Place as it expanded into new facilities, resulting in increased engagement with community influencers. She also led the development and execution of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) audit for KCI, an Acelity company. Through the audit process, Cynthia led the Hawthorne team in creating a three-year action plan to improve KCI’s corporate reputation, rooted in a deep understanding of industry best practices.

Cynthia began her career as a grassroots organizer for a statewide environmental organization, before moving into lobbying and electoral politics. In 2019, Cynthia was recognized as one of “Chicago’s Most Influential Women” by the Chicago Business Journal.​ And, in 2021, she was named an Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Woman Magazine. Cynthia is a member of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Board of Directors.

Education: Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis and Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Saint Louis University. She recently completed the WBENC Executive Education Program Sponsored by Wells Fargo.


Currently Reading: Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton, and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.


Pet: A yellow lab named Pippi and a terrier mix named Monty


Cynthia’s Ideal Friday Night: Exploring a new city or hosting a cèilidh – a Gaelic term meaning an informal gathering of friends often referred to as a “kitchen party”.

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