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Gene Reineke


Work with Hawthorne

At its core, Hawthorne Strategy Group is built on personal relationships. As CEO, Gene is the first point of contact for all our clients. From our up and coming local clients to the Get Covered Illinois Affordable Care Act rollout (GCI), Gene is always centrally engaged in directing the campaign. As co-lead of GCI, he helped guide the massive public sector marketing and education campaign to critically acclaimed success, enrolling nearly 1 million uninsured Illinoisans in health plans. Through his strong leadership Gene has led countless other campaigns to success for both public entities and private businesses.

Gene’s work has included corporate and marketing communications campaigns, public affairs and policy assignments, issues/crisis/reputation management, and community relations outreach on behalf of each of the firm’s clients. He has worked extensively with Aflac, AIG, CSX, GCI, Gary/Chicago Airport, and World Business Chicago, to name a few.

What brought him to Hawthorne

Gene enjoyed an almost twenty year career in Illinois state government in two gubernatorial administrations. He has served as a member of a governor’s cabinet, as a governor’s chief of staff, and held a variety of other positions in the administrations of former governors Jim Edgar and James R. Thompson.


After leaving public service, Gene joined the international public relations firm of Hill + Knowlton Strategies (H+K) where he worked for more than a dozen years. His roles and responsibilities at the firm included serving as Head of US Client Services, US Chief Operating Officer, and General Manager of the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. offices. Gene has been on-site for clients over the years dealing with issues ranging from the 2008 “Great Recession” and economic meltdown at AIG in New York City, to acting as the Chief Communications Officer for Cigna during the lead up to the Affordable Care Act in 2010.


Gene left H+K to found Hawthorne Strategy Group in early 2012. The company specializes in many of the same public relations and strategic counseling services that Gene developed at his previous firm. The key difference? Hawthorne offers clients a personalized client engagement experience at a more accessible price.


Gene holds a B.A. from Loyola University Chicago, a M.A. from Boston College, and has earned six business certificates in leadership and negotiations from the University of Notre Dame.

Personal Interests

Gene enjoys city life during the week in Chicago while “chilling out” on weekends with his family near the Indiana dunes. He can usually be found exploring the West Loop’s restaurants with friends and business partners. Gene enjoys reading and watching movies in his free time, and is currently binge watching HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”