Hawthorn Staff

Dr. McGrath
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
Chairman

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.

Hammelman on white
Chief Comm. Ofc.

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.

Brandow on white
Chief Financial Officer

James Brandow serves as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Hawthorn.

At Hawthorn, Brandow has created and manages systems for financial and employee utilization analysis by clients, projects and functions, and serves as the senior financial member of the Management Committee.

He previously served as Accountant and Controller for the New York public relations firm of Boxenbaum Grates, Inc. and on the accounting and sales staff of Master Computer, Inc.

Brandow is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and holds a B. S. in Accounting and Business Law.

A native of New York, he and his wife Anne Marie, with their daughter Lindsay and two sons, James and Matthew live in Alexandria, Virginia.

Miller B. Girvin black and white
Senior Vice President

Miller Beale Girvin serves as Vice President, Communications and heads Hawthorn’s Birmingham, Alabama office. Having been bitten by the political bug during her time in Washington, she has a focus on government relations and strategic political communications. Girvin got her start in politics in the office of then-Speaker of the House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert, where she specialized in international affairs and national security. She provided regular briefings to the Speaker on visiting international dignitaries and acted as a liaison with embassies regarding their legislative interests.

Reed Ehrhardt
Account Executive

Reed A. Ehrhardt is an Associate and Account Manager at The Hawthorn Group. Mr. Ehrhardt is responsible for coordinating all elements of client accounts including research, materials, and personnel allocation. His strategic focus is one based on optimizing client relationships by providing services tailored to meet each client’s needs and exacting standards.

Prior to joining The Hawthorn Group Mr. Ehrhardt taught English in Argentina and performed real estate research and analysis in Washington D.C.

Mr. Ehrhardt is a graduate of Washington and Lee University where he received a B.S. in Business Administration with Special Attainments in Commerce. Throughout his academic career he focused on international issues studying abroad at both the London School of Economics and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. He is proficient in both Mandarin and Spanish.

Born and raised in Kenai, Alaska Mr. Ehrhardt lives in Arlington, Virginia. When not at work you can find him enjoying the outdoors or volunteering at the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Jefferson Freeman
Research Director

Jefferson Freeman is Hawthorn’s Research Director.  His experience covers a range of fields including statistics, econometrics, digital media, mechanical engineering, and communications. Jefferson provides clients with research coordination and analysis (including issues and polling), implementing elements of grassroots and GrassTops campaigns, building databases, and developing and implementing comprehensive digital strategies.

Jefferson joined Hawthorn as a summer intern in 2011, returning summer of 2012 before coming on as a Research Analyst fall of 2012. Prior to joining Hawthorn, Jefferson wrote for his college newspaper and managed databases at the mental health non-profit, Humanim, based in Columbia, MD.

Raised in Clarksville, MD, he is an Eagle Scout and attended Harvard’s Model Congress in 2008. He attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO where he received his Bachelors in Economics in 2012. He lives in Washington, DC and volunteers at several DC arts organizations where he assists them in the development and implementation of their social media strategies.

Janice Chase
Administrative Assistant

Ms. Chase started with The Hawthorn Group in 1996 as a Receptionist. She currently serves as Administrative Assistant for support services working on many different accounts. A graduate from Western High School in Washington DC she received an Associates degree in Business Administration from Washington Technical Institute.

During her spare time Janice volunteer’s for many charitable organizations including SOME, Providence Hospital, and Children’s Hospital.

Petrosky on white
Executive Assistant

Charles Petrosky joined The Hawthorn Group as Executive Assistant to the Chairman after 13 years of experience as an Executive Assistant to admirals and generals in the United States military. His service as Aide-de-Camp to flag rank officers earned him a nomination to the Clinton White House as Military Secretary to the President of the United States.

Among his office management duties in a highly visible military office, Petrosky was responsible for protocol, correspondence, scheduling and security issues. He planned and coordinated the 1995 U.S., French and Royal Navy Staff Personnel Talks in Paris and London, and served as liaison to embassy staffs.

Sowah on White Background
Director, IT Projects

Anthony Sowah is The Hawthorn Group’s Director of IT Projects and Infrastructure.

He joined the Hawthorn Group in 2008 and provides direct management of the company’s technical infrastructure, including hardware, procedures and collaboration tools.

Prior to joining Hawthorn, Anthony worked in the Web Strategy and Operations Group at AARP Services, Inc. an arm of the AARP. There he was responsible for desktop support, presentation management, website updates, and new employee training.

He holds IT certifications from George Mason and George Washington Universities.

Henry Rubin
Associate

Henry A. Rubin is an Associate at The Hawthorn Group where he coordinates projects for clients on a variety of issues.

Mr. Rubin joined The Hawthorn Group after previously working at AARP on state level government affairs work and as a health policy analyst at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Rubin recently completed a dual MA in Government and MBA from Johns Hopkins University and graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in Political Science.

A native of Radnor, Pennsylvania, he currently lives in the Navy Yard section of Washington, D.C.

 

 

Senior Advisors

Scott Barker
Senior Advisor

Scott Barker has over 20 years experience in public affairs and communications, working with Fortune 100 companies, senior level government officials and political leaders and candidates.

Barker designs award-winning programs for clients communicating in today’s wired world. He creates measurable programs that integrate traditional and online communication tools — including websites, interactive advocacy sites, targeted online advertising, and social media to create a surround sound effect designed to change actions and opinions.

Previously, Barker worked for nine years as a strategist for Triad Communication, a high-tech public affairs communication agency. He also served in various communications positions for the Republican National Committee, including field advisor to GOP state parties, assistant press secretary and speechwriter to the chair and co-chair of the RNC.

During his time at the RNC, he pioneered an electronic bulletin board for use by the state parties. Barker’s programs have won awards from the Public Affairs Council and National Conference of Political Involvement Professionals. He is a contributing author to the Public Affairs Council Winning at Grassroots manual.

In his spare time, he bikes an average of 80 miles per week. He conducted a community symphonic band for 10 years, including the group’s Kennedy Center debut. As a boater he navigated the Intercoastal waterway from Jacksonville, Florida to Washington DC and as a hiker he completed a five day trek through the Andean mountains in Peru.

Bob Bonitati
Senior Advisor

Robert Bonitati joined Hawthorn as a Senior Counselor with 25 years of extensive experience in strategic public affairs analysis and issue management. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President at the Kamber Group in Washington, D.C.

Bonitati served three years as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison at the White House during the Reagan Administration. He served as key advisor to both the President and Vice President on issues affecting national and international labor constituencies. Prior to that, he spent six years as Director of Public Affairs for the Air Line Pilots Association where he managed a 42-member staff conducting public and government relations at the national level.

He received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. He also pursued graduate studies in Educational Psychology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and in Political Science at Arizona State University.

Angie Howard
Senior Advisor

With over 40 years of experience in energy and utility issues as well as public relations, communications, community outreach and leadership development, Angie Howard serves as a Senior Counselor to the Hawthorn Group.

Angie retired in May 2009 as vice president, Office of the President and Executive Advisor to the President for the Nuclear Energy Institute. She represented NEI with policy, academic and industry organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Angie, who joined NEI as Sr. Vice President, Communications, in 1996, had previous responsibilities for the organizations communications, external affairs and member relations activities.

Previously, Angie was vice president and director of industry relations and information services for the Atlanta-based Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, joining INPO in 1980 to establish its external and internal communications. She also was involved in the formation of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the development of communications activities for the WANO-Atlanta Center, which is co-located with INPO.

Before joining INPO in 1980, Angie was employed by Duke Power Company in various communications and nuclear information management positions from 1969 to 1980.

Angie received a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. She has completed the Reactor Technology Program for Utility Executives sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Academy for Nuclear Training. She is a member of the Clemson University Research Foundation Board and the University of Tennessee Nuclear Engineering Department Advisory Committee. Angie was the recipient of the 2009 Women in Nuclear Global Leadership Award.

Rex Kelly
Senior Advisor

Rex Kelly, a Senior Counselor with the Hawthorn Group, served as an executive with Mississippi Power for more than 21 years. His understanding of communication and external process led the company to the top spot nationally in customer satisfaction and earned him Utility Communicators International’s Communicator of the Year award six times. His work also earned national and regional awards from the National Association of Broadcasters and the American Advertising Federation.

He successfully managed many external issues as a member of Mississippi Power’s Management Council, including external communications, community affairs, charitable foundations, creative and media services, and public relations programs.

Kelly has used his skill to enhance the political climate in his region, serving in key positions on more than 14 campaigns. He holds a degree in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi. Rex is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and was named a Top Ten Community Leader in South Mississippi for 2003 and inducted into the Roland Weeks Leadership Hall of Fame.

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Kelly played guitar in a number of dance bands. He later served with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service with a stint as a television anchor in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

Bryant Kinney
Senior Advisor

Bryant Kinney has more than 25 years of experience in energy industry public and government affairs, media relations, crisis communications and philanthropy.

Bryant retired from Duke Energy Corporation following a career that spanned over two decades, most recently with him serving as vice president of regulatory and government affairs for the company’s Carolinas operations. During his career he led external and internal communications, media relations, public policy, philanthropy and crisis communications functions for nuclear power, gas pipeline, energy delivery, corporate communications and other key company operations.

As vice president, public affairs for Duke Energy’s energy services group, Bryant oversaw communications for the development of energy projects in 20 states and Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. He developed programs to establish the company’s presence and brand in new regions of the U.S. and internationally. He fostered positive relationships with national and international media, local communities and employees and achieved public acceptance for company’s multi-billion dollar domestic and international developments. He managed crisis communications response to operational, managerial and financial events impacting the company.

Bryant formerly served as manager, power generation communications for the Tennessee Valley Authority, responsible for all public and media relations and crisis communications for the federal power agency’s nuclear, fossil and hydro-electric generating facilities. Before joining the energy industry, he served as director of emergency management services for Cherokee County, N.C., and an emergency response planner for the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.

Bryant graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He has served on various community and regional boards including as Chairman of the board for the North Carolina Independent College Fund. He is currently treasurer and a member of the board for Leadership North Carolina.

Jim Kiss
Senior Advisor

One of public relations’ most respected senior advisors, James M. Kiss serves as Chairman of Hawthorn’s Advisory Board and counselor to a number of Hawthorn clients.

His distinguished career has included service as Managing Director, International for Arnold Consultants, whom he joined from Haley, Kiss & Dowd, a public affairs firm he established in 1980 after 15 years with Hill & Knowlton. He joined H&K as a vice president and, left the firm as an executive vice president and a member of the agency’s board of directors. Earlier, he spent ten years as director of public relations for one of the world’s largest magazine publishers and four years as director of promotion and public relations for a regional broadcasting company.

Known widely as an international business consultant, he has represented a wide range of clients including American Express, Anheuser Busch, AT&T, British Airways, Campbell Soup, DuPont, General Mills, Mars, and the U. S. Olympic Committee. He has also represented Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia, and West Germany.

Kiss serves on the National Advisory Board of the Democratic Leadership Council and is a Founding Trustee of the Progressive Policy Institute.

A native of Philadelphia, he earned his B.A. and L.L.B. from Temple University and served as a combat correspondent in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He and his wife, Dr. Jeanne Marie Kiss, live in St. Mary’s, Georgia.

Dale Leibach
Senior Advisor

Dale Leibach, has held senior level communications positions in both the private and public sector including the White House and Capitol Hill. He has extensive experience in high-stakes communications to help clients achieve public policy, legal and communications goals and has worked with the principals of The Hawthorn Group for nearly 30 years.

He advises clients on communications strategies including legislative initiatives, regulatory action, and Congressional oversight. Leibach led the communications efforts for a coalition in the high-profile battle over broadband spectrum. [The “Save Our GPS” coalition (www.saveourgps.org) was named by The Hill publication as one of the leading public affairs efforts in 2013.]

Leibach has worked with leading law firms on complex litigation ranging from qui tam cases, to labor disputes, to False Claims Act and Class Action lawsuits.

For more than a decade, Leibach has worked with a number of companies in lead paint litigation in numerous cities and states across the country, where lawsuits have wound their way through the courts to resolution in state Supreme Courts on a half-dozen occasions.

A leading education organization in the for-profit sector was called to Congressional hearings followed by a False Claims Act/qui tam case involving the Department of Justice (DOJ) and litigation by a dozen state Attorneys Generals. Leibach managed communications for the entire process.

Lyndsey Medsker
Senior Advisor

Lyndsey Medsker is a communicator with nearly two decades of Washington, D.C. experience in issues management, public affairs and digital media. Lyndsey has served in senior level positions at nationally-recognized agencies including public affairs firm Rasky Baerlein|Prism; digital agency New Media Strategies; and crisis management firm Dezenhall Resources.

Lyndsey has extensive experience designing strategic communications programs around high-stakes, high-profile issues in a variety of industries ranging from energy, pharmaceutical, food and financial services to consumer products and healthcare. She also is a digital media specialist who develops comprehensive education and advocacy programs using the latest in digital and social media.

Originally from Montana, Lyndsey lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two young sons. She is active in local politics (recently gaining national attention for her efforts to reverse a sledding ban on Capitol Hill), serves on the PTA Board and is often seen riding around town on her long-tail cargo bike.

John Moore
Senior Advisor

A self-described “recovering journalist,” Moore has joined Hawthorn as a Senior Counsel after spending 15 years as an issues management and media relations professional helping corporations, coalitions, law firms and trade associations accomplish their business and public policy objectives. Before joining Hawthorn as a Senior Counselor, he was most recently a managing director at Qorvis Communications, a Washington, D.C. public relations firm. Prior to that, John was a principal in FM Strategic Communications.

John has represented roughly a dozen energy firms across the industry spectrum, including several of the nation’s largest utilities, coalitions of public power advocates, cutting-edge clean energy ventures, the nation’s largest nuclear waste company, coal-industry giants and a battery industry whose members include the brightest brands in the technology industry. He has devised strategies and developed crisp, concise and compelling messages targeting key stakeholders that enabled clients to surmount legislative and regulatory hurdles in Washington and state capitals around the country.

He spent much of his professional career in journalism, including 15 years at National Journal magazine, where he was a Managing Editor and a Staff Correspondent. John was also an associate editor of Legal Times. He has appeared as a commentator on C-Span, Fox News and NPR and written commentary for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News. John attended the University of Missouri-Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and graduated from Amherst College.

Arlen Reynolds
Senior Advisor

One of the top advisors in the healthcare field, Arlen Reynolds serves as a distinguished member of Hawthorn’s Advisory Board and counselor to a number of Hawthorn clients.

His distinguished career has included service with more than two decades experience running acute care hospitals both domestically and abroad, Arlen Reynolds has been recently appointed chairman of Brookwood Medical Center’s governing board.

Following his retirement from hospital administration, Reynolds served as president of TeamCare, the second largest institutional pharmacy company in the nation with operations in 30 states. He is now a private investor and strategic adviser to health care companies.

In addition to his service to Hawthorn, Reynolds also currently serves on the President’s Council at Purdue University, as well as Nesco Industries in New York, and Nashville-based HealthForecasts. He is a former member of the board of directors for HealthMont Inc., a rural hospital management company, and the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Foundation. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Jonathan Rick Headshot
Senior Advisor

Jonathan Rick is Senior Counselor, Digital Communications, and president of the Jonathan Rick Group, a digital communications firm that helps companies use social media to shape and tell their story. Whether via a website, social network, blog, vlog, ad, or app, Mr. Rick has employed e-strategies to drive public opinion, create and build a buzz among Influentials, and build brand equity. Rick has created and implemented campaigns for Fortune 100 corporations, the federal government, national nonprofits, and trade associations. He created the digital strategies for the widely lauded White House initiative, “Startup America”, an eight-city, cabinet-level road show to encourage entrepreneurship, and spearheaded the digital marketing and promotion for Operation MySpace, the first concert broadcast online in high definition.

Mr. Rick writes for publications including Mashable and Fast Company, has been quoted in media outlets including the New York Times and PR Daily, and speaks before organizations including Twitter and Visa. He serves on the board of directors of the Washington, DC, chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, and holds a BA in Government from Hamilton College.

Ellen Scotti Belli
Senior Advisor

Ellen Scotti-Belli, has lived overseas for the past 15 years, and is an expert on European and Central American affairs.

Scott-Belli began her career at The Hawthorn Group in 1995 as a member of the energy account team, and quickly moved through the ranks leaving in 1999 to join her husband on his Foreign Service posting to Tallinn, Estonia.  There she worked locally for the marketing department of the county’s largest bank, helping develop English language materials for their international clientele. Ellen also became part of the Embassy country teams in Tallinn, Estonia, and Panama City, Panama, assisting with large and small-scale events on behalf of the U.S. Ambassador, coordinating large U.S. Congressional Delegations and high-level U.S military visits to the host countries, and providing valuable insights to staff and visitors on the local community and customs.

Most recently, Ellen worked for the Peace Corps as an Expert Consultant in the Office of Recruitment, Selection and Support.  Ellen was tasked with developing a support program for the Peace Corps’ overseas staff.  Her work involved working with and advocating on behalf of staff members and their families in the 65 foreign countries that the Peace Corps operates.

Ellen is a graduate of the University of San Diego with a B.A. in History, and is fluent in both Italian and Spanish.  Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Los Angeles, California, by her Italian-born parents, she now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband and their two daughters.

Peter Stickles
Senior Advisor

Peter Stickles joined Hawthorn as a Senior Account Executive. He works on energy, telecommunications siting, gaming and distilled spirits issues as well as specializing in target research for several corporate clients. Prior to joining Hawthorn, Stickles served as a political appointee to the U.S. Department of Energy in the Bush Administration. His service at Energy included positions as Executive Assistant to the General Counsel and Assistant Secretaries of Policy and International Relations.