Hawthorn Leadership


John McGrath, M.D.
Vice Chairman

As Vice Chairman, Dr. McGrath brings extensive experience in strategic policy communication and healthcare consultation to the Hawthorn Group.

Dr. McGrath has served as a consultant on crisis consultation and intelligence issues to the U.S. Departments of Defense, State, and as a policy advisor to the Office of the Surgeon General. He has also served as a member of, or consultant to, numerous federal and state commissions, and as an advisor to several governors.

John Ashford

Once a country and western disc jockey, John Ashford is now Chairman and CEO of The Hawthorn Group, L.C., the international public affairs and public relations firm he co- founded in 1992. Drawing on communications and public affairs experience gained in hundreds of successful political and corporate campaigns, Ashford now provides senior counsel to Hawthorn clients across the country and around the world. Raised in a small farm community, Ashford first appeared on the political scene in his native Missouri. When he was only 26 years old, the Kansas City Star had already called him a “political kingmaker.” After staff work on Capitol Hill for members of the U.S. House and Senate, Ashford spent a decade with the legendary political consultant Matt Reese. Together they worked in more than 200 candidate and corporate campaigns around the world and pioneered the adaptation of political grassroots techniques to serve Fortune 500 companies. Attending Missouri Valley College, where his father was a Hall-of-Fame football coach, John instead studied classics and ancient Greek, earning a B.A. in philosophy. He received his Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the American Association of Political Consultants, The National Press Club, The Harvard Club, The International Churchill Society, the American Guild of Organists and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. He lives in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and is the father of a 17-year old son and 15-year old daughter.

Larry Walsh
Vice Chairman

Larry Walsh is a senior advisor to corporate management and boards on a broad range of issues related to crisis preparedness and reputation management. As Vice Chairman of the Hawthorn Group, he works with companies around the globe to develop and implement issues management programs and to provide real-time crisis management support. He also serves as a Senior Consultant to Marsh, the world’s leading risk advisor, on crisis planning and response.

Walsh has more than 25 years experience in public affairs and issues management, including: restructuring and bankruptcy, shareholder litigation, management turnover, government inquiries and data theft and breach. And, he has advised companies—from financial services, to consumer products, to healthcare—and industry trade groups on the development and implementation crisis management programs, including communications planning and training.

Suzanne Hammelman
President & Chief Operating Officer

With 30 years of hands-on experience creating and managing research-based communications programs for candidates, corporations, and associations, Ms. Hammelman works with clients to find creative, cost-effective solutions to their internal and external communications problems. She is a recognized expert at developing precisely targeted grassroots campaigns that identify and activate unexpected sources of support and utilize effective, non-traditional methods to change opinion and actions.

Hammelman manages successful, long-term programs for several of Hawthorn’s largest corporate and coalition clients. She created and managed a multi-million dollar national grassroots membership organization that successfully moved public opinion and positively impacted public policy decisions at the local, state and federal levels. Hammelman has created and implemented successful external communications programs for heavily regulated industries. She created an award-winning internal community and grassroots program for another Fortune 500 company that brought together management and employees from dozens of facilities.