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Gene Reineke


After spending almost two decades in Illinois state government for two gubernatorial administrations, Gene Reineke moved to the private sector to work on behalf of corporate clients and other organizations at the international public relations firm of Hill+Knowlton Strategies.


Gene’s experiences and expertise have been focused on issues management, crisis communications, thought leadership, reputation building, enhancement, and protection on behalf of his many clients over the past almost twenty years. Gene was on-site at AIG when the firm was at the center of the 2008-2009 U.S. economic ‘great recession,’ and at Cigna as the interim chief communications officer in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) in 2010.


After serving as Hill+Knowlton’s U.S. chief operating officer and head of client service, in addition to leading offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., Gene decided to start his own venture more than five years ago and formed his own communication consultancy, Hawthorne Strategy Group, which is based in Chicago.


Hawthorne’s first client was Aflac, the supplemental insurance company. Since then, Hawthorne has grown to ten full-time employees with clients located across the US and in Europe (Red Bull) – from the Midwest and the nation’s capital to California and Texas, in sectors ranging from medical technology to higher education. Local Chicago-based clients include the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McCormick Place) to various civic nonprofits serving the greater Chicagoland community.


Gene holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Loyola University Chicago, a Master’s degree specializing in American Government from Boston College, and eight professional certifications from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.


Gene divides his time between a condo a few blocks from Wrigley Field and a home in Valparaiso, not far from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.